What is it about Republican Sen. Ted Cruz that seems to bother the Democrats so much?
Sure, he hit the ground running after being elected to the U.S. Senate from Texas, but does that really justify the level of abuse the members of the party of Jefferson and Jackson are heaping on him? Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a member of the Clinton cabinet and, briefly, a candidate for president recently singled him out as being in-authentically Hispanic. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., described him earlier this week, in a left-handed sort of way, as the equivalent of a schoolyard bully. It's almost enough to make a person cringe with embarrassment.
The Democrats are supposed to be the party of tolerance and understanding. (Leaving aside that, well into the 21st century, they elected as the Senate's president pro tempore a former member and recruiter for the Ku Klux Klan or that another of their most revered colleagues once left the scene of a one car accident for which he was at fault in which his female passenger died, the dominant media culture has given them power to determine the acceptable and to decide what is over the line on questions of race, sex and ethnicity.) If Reid and Richardson's comments were made by a Republican about a Democrat, the fury would be endless. Instead, because Cruz is a Republican, they feel free to fling epithets at him with abandon in the hopes that they will get him to back down, knowing that no one that matters will call them on it
"Back down from what," you ask? From trying to change the way the Senate operates, apparently, which Reid runs like his personal fiefdom. By frequently blocking Republican senators from offering amendments to even the most trivial legislation, he has turned the world's greatest deliberative body into a legislative quagmire where almost nothing gets done and almost the only way for the Republican minority to get a point across is through a filibuster.
Cruz is trying to change that along with the other "young Turks" like Kentucky's Rand Paul, Utah's Mike Lee and Florida's Marco Rubio. Not content to squabble over the crumbs Reid leaves behind, they are actually trying to insert policy alternatives into the debate, at the same time drawing important distinctions on serious policy questions.
If conservatives are serious about enacting reforms that will change the direction of the country, they will encourage Cruz and the others and back them to the hilt. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., seems already to have absorbed this lesson and has partnered with them on key efforts enough times that it can be safely said that he has become a believer.
Those who have been around Washington long enough can remember how a group of young congressmen led by Newt Gingrich, Bob Walker and Vin Weber took on the task of radicalizing their GOP colleagues in the U.S. House, pushing them to take stands on important issues rather than pursue compromise from a position of weakness. They got them to go to the floor and take their case directly to the American people over the then innovative C-SPAN cable and satellite television network.
It took almost two decades, and a lot of elections in between for the distinctions Gingrich, Walker, Weber and others were making to take root with the electorate but, by 1994, the GOP shook off what was believed by many to be its permanent minority status and win control of Congress' lower chamber for the first time since Eisenhower. By delivering on the promises they made in the Contract with America, the Gingrich-led Republican armada became the first GOP majority in the House to be re-elected since Herbert Hoover. Cruz and company are doing the same thing in the U.S. Senate.
By standing up for principle, by refusing to follow blindly the dictates of Reid and company, Cruz, Paul, Lee and Rubio are giving the "old bulls" fits. Reid's arguments, when he's not reduced to name-calling, seem to focus on their activities running counter to "the way things are done" in the Senate. That your opposition is engaged in poor form is a weak counter-argument, more appropriate to a European parliamentary chamber than to the U.S. Congress. Given that it took the Senate under Reid four years to pass a budget and that, under his leadership, it has become a place where much-needed pro-growth legislation passed by the House goes to die, it's a good thing there are some people willing to shake things up.
It's funny how those that decry negative campaigning the loudest – in case you are wondering, that would be the liberals – always seem to be the first to resort to name-calling. The floor of the Senate is not a schoolyard, as Reid made clear, but Reid would do better to take the log out of his own eye before spending time pointing out the cinders in the eyes of others.