Skip to main content

Ted Cruz knows exactly what he's doing

By James Moore, Special to CNN
October 18, 2013 -- Updated 1418 GMT (2218 HKT)
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during a news conference May 16 on Capitol Hill. Cruz threw himself into the national spotlight in September when he spoke on the Senate floor for almost 22 hours in an attempt to block funding to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during a news conference May 16 on Capitol Hill. Cruz threw himself into the national spotlight in September when he spoke on the Senate floor for almost 22 hours in an attempt to block funding to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
HIDE CAPTION
Texas junior Sen. Ted Cruz
Texas junior Sen. Ted Cruz
Texas junior Sen. Ted Cruz
Texas junior Sen. Ted Cruz
Texas junior Sen. Ted Cruz
Texas junior Sen. Ted Cruz
Texas junior Sen. Ted Cruz
Texas junior Sen. Ted Cruz
Texas junior Sen. Ted Cruz
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • James Moore: Once elegant U.S. democracy now in era of gunpoint government
  • He says Ted Cruz and tea party, with minority ruling majority, flout democratic ideal
  • He says willingness to halt government until one man's goals met is Cruz's point
  • Moore: Cruz and company have broken GOP in two, shown how our system can be hijacked

Editor's note: James C. Moore, a Texan, is a business consultant and partner at Big Bend Strategies, a business messaging firm. He is co-author of "Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential" and a TV political analyst.

(CNN) -- We had a process. Congress proposed, and the president disposed with his signature. A law then went on the books. Courts might be asked to test its constitutionality, but by surviving legal challenges, a measure became the settled law of the land, which was the case with Obamacare. The American legislative system was, in spite of the disturbing influence of big money, actually quite elegant. But now it is broken.

We have entered into an era of gunpoint government.

Americans have discovered that a tiny, radical minority can immobilize their entire country and hold it as still as a robbery victim staring at the barrel of a pointed gun. And regardless of how this might anger the majority, they must live with the fact that it can happen again.

James C. Moore
James C. Moore

And it likely will.

Political accommodation for the common good is not even a consideration. Shutting the country down is the only objective, with no purpose beyond political destruction and personal ambition. Any argument that the temporary closing of the U.S. federal government did not accomplish anything, in this scheme, therefore, is wrong.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and his acolytes of extremism have cracked the Republican Party into two dissimilar parts. The corpus of the moderate version survives with frailties and reduced numbers that make its national leadership improbable in the foreseeable future, while the tea party offspring of the GOP remain vital, as they have felt the blood rush of being a bully. But neither part of the Republican Party won a thing.

Except for the disdain of most Americans, and, possibly, much of the world.

Global leaders undoubtedly wonder why the United States thinks exporting its version of democracy is sane. Political recalcitrance over the American debt ceiling threatened to toss international markets into chaos simply because a small cabal of conservatives did not like a new law to provide health care to millions of people who cannot otherwise afford premiums. Politics or petulance? The anger of the few in the minority was never supposed to be able to stop the will of the majority.

The founders would be confounded.

Exasperation, however, has to be tempered by the painful knowledge that we the people elected these people. Cruz of Texas, who has become the de facto leader of the national GOP and appears to be shepherding his party into a burning building, won office by defeating his state's lieutenant governor in a July runoff.

The Texas tea party is made joyful by Cruz's exhortations, and in the obscure runoff 15 months ago, during the 100-plus-degree-burn of summer, they voted for him in big numbers, while moderates were hesitant to venture outdoors to even buy cold beer--or vote.

The defeated David Dewhurst, his rival, who is still in office, clearly envies the network TV lights cast upon the neophyte Texas senator and has begun a rank imitation with calls for the President's impeachment. A reason hardly seems to matter. The inflammatory quote is what counts.

But if we live in a democracy, don't we deserve what we have?

Politics now is the art of screaming louder than the other person and claiming principles that are so profound they are more important than the preservation of the union. The streak of anarchy that runs through the politics of Cruz and the tea party ought to frighten sober Americans. His ideological strain thrives on the notion that government should do little more than protect the borders, pave the roads and then get the hell out of our way.

Ted Cruz remains popular in Texas
Did Sen. Ted Cruz destroy the GOP?
The shutdown's biggest loser is ...

Cruz is wrong, of course, and the obligations of liberty are considerably more complex. We might die to preserve our nation's principles but most of us won't kill our country to win an argument.

If Cruz knew from the outset he was in an unwinnable fight, what was he really doing? What did he want? The obvious conclusion was that he lusted for attention to build a reputation among the tea party activists, whom he wants to begin thinking of him as their presidential candidate for 2016. They voted in disproportionate numbers to get him into the U.S. Senate and he hopes to animate that political base across the country and ride their cheers to the GOP nomination.

Whether that happens is of considerably less importance to note than the fact that he was willing to jeopardize the lives and incomes of millions of Americans, along with global economies, simply to get cameras pointed in his direction. Is there any other conclusion?

Cruz thinks he can speak directly to the voters and rise without the help of the political infrastructure of his party. Such an unconventional strategy may be his only hope, because there are few left in the GOP who will offer him any respect. The public has watched in abject horror as one office holder has pressed history's greatest democracy into a sausage grinder. And what has come out the other end is not immediately recognizable.

Our deliberative government was not designed to be hijacked by a few dissidents. But fanatics have found a way to pry open the cockpit door and demand course corrections that put everyone on board at risk. Because of this, we may have no choice but to rethink the very mechanics of how we create law and run the nation.

Cruz has at least done us the benefit of showing us that our system functions best as a platform for campaigning and getting re-elected and not for conducting the people's business; not even the disgraced Richard Nixon created such jeopardy with his betrayal.

But it's our fault. We cast the ballots and gave office to Cruz and his compatriots. The politically craven have taken up arms to stop the peoples' business and the attention is intoxicating. They have no reason to put down their weapons. They like this game because now it only takes one person to storm the battlements that protect American democracy.

Teddy got his gun

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of James Moore.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1925 GMT (0325 HKT)
Maria Cardona says Republicans should appreciate President Obama's executive action on immigration.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
Van Jones says the Hunger Games is a more sweeping critique of wealth inequality than Elizabeth Warren's speech.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2329 GMT (0729 HKT)
obama immigration
David Gergen: It's deeply troubling to grant legal safe haven to unauthorized immigrants by executive order.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0134 GMT (0934 HKT)
Charles Kaiser recalls a four-hour lunch that offered insight into the famed director's genius.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
The plan by President Obama to provide legal status to millions of undocumented adults living in the U.S. leaves Republicans in a political quandary.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0313 GMT (1113 HKT)
Despite criticism from those on the right, Obama's expected immigration plans won't make much difference to deportation numbers, says Ruben Navarette.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0121 GMT (0921 HKT)
As new information and accusers against Bill Cosby are brought to light, we are reminded of an unshakable feature of American life: rape culture.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2256 GMT (0656 HKT)
When black people protest against police violence in Ferguson, Missouri, they're thought of as a "mob."
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 2011 GMT (0411 HKT)
Lost in much of the coverage of ISIS brutality is how successful the group has been at attracting other groups, says Peter Bergen.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1345 GMT (2145 HKT)
Do recent developments mean that full legalization of pot is inevitable? Not necessarily, but one would hope so, says Jeffrey Miron.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
We don't know what Bill Cosby did or did not do, but these allegations should not be easily dismissed, says Leslie Morgan Steiner.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1519 GMT (2319 HKT)
Does Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas have the influence to bring stability to Jerusalem?
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1759 GMT (0159 HKT)
Even though there are far fewer people being stopped, does continued use of "broken windows" strategy mean minorities are still the target of undue police enforcement?
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 0258 GMT (1058 HKT)
The truth is, we ran away from the best progressive persuasion voice in our times because the ghost of our country's original sin still haunts us, writes Cornell Belcher.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 2141 GMT (0541 HKT)
Children living in the Syrian city of Aleppo watch the sky. Not for signs of winter's approach, although the cold winds are already blowing, but for barrel bombs.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
We're stuck in a kind of Middle East Bermuda Triangle where messy outcomes are more likely than neat solutions, says Aaron David Miller.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1216 GMT (2016 HKT)
In the midst of the fight against Islamist rebels seeking to turn the clock back, a Kurdish region in Syria has approved a law ordering equality for women. Take that, ISIS!
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 0407 GMT (1207 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says President Obama would be justified in acting on his own to limit deportations
ADVERTISEMENT