I haven’t said much about the 2016 U.S. presidential race, and I probably won’t say much more about it after this article, as I want to focus on more fundamental philosophic issues. But I’d like to say a few words about why I unequivocally support Ted Cruz for president and why I think all liberty loving Americans should as well.
Although not all of Cruz’s ideas are grounded in reality, and although some of them are dangerously false, Cruz regards ideas as important, and he has a body of principles that guide his thinking on political matters. Chief among these is his recognition of the fact that the U.S. Constitution is, as he puts it, “the supreme law of the land” and that the job of the president is to uphold and enforce it. “I will defend the Constitution—all of it,” promises Cruz.
Of course, I and other lovers of liberty take issue with Cruz about what the Constitution means in certain areas and about how best to enforce it. But many of Cruz’s ideas in this regard are substantially if not entirely good. Here are some representative instances (all quotations are Cruz’s own words unless otherwise noted):
Freedom of Speech
Ted Cruz recognizes the fundamental importance of the right to freedom of speech, and he vows to uphold the First Amendment as a fundamental law of the land. Does he support this right fully and consistently? No. Among other inconsistencies in this area, he supports certain “anti-obscenity” laws. But Cruz’s recognition of the existence and importance of the right to freedom of speech means that when he faces questions about the matter, he will approach them with the aim of understanding how this principle applies in the given context. He will not dismiss the principle as irrelevant or question whether it exists.
All of the other viable candidates in the running for the presidency have demonstrated utter disregard for the right to freedom of speech. And, because this right is the linchpin of a free society, this difference alone disqualifies them and puts Cruz in first place.
U.S. foreign policy has been atrocious for many decades, and Americans have paid horrifically for the fact. In just the past fifteen years, Islamic jihadists have murdered thousands of Americans on U.S. soil. During that same period, many thousands more Americans have been killed or maimed abroad while following altruistically driven orders to refrain from using their full capabilities against the jihadists—whom Presidents Bush and Obama have refused even to name, let alone to eliminate.
The causes of this problem run deep into philosophy, but one of the major causes at the political level is that every administration in recent decades has embraced the wrong purpose of U.S. foreign policy.
It appears that a Cruz administration would substantially correct this deadly error.
Cruz sees the proper purpose of U.S. foreign policy as what it is: to protect the lives and rights of Americans. In his words, we need “an America first foreign policy”—a policy under which we “judge each challenge through the simple test of what is best for America.” Accordingly, Cruz emphatically opposes so-called “nation building” or efforts to “transform foreign countries into democratic utopias,” such as “trying to turn Iraq into Switzerland.” Instead, says Cruz, “it is the job of our military to protect this country, to hunt down and kill jihadists who would murder us.” If and when the United States needs to use force to defend Americans from aggressors, says Cruz, “We should use overwhelming force, kill the enemy, and then get the heck out.” To which I say: Amen.
As for the rules of engagement that sacrifice U.S. soldiers on the alter of altruism, Cruz sees them as morally wrong—and says so. As he puts it, “What we are doing to our sons and daughters, it is immoral. We are sending them to fight with their arms tied behind their back. They cannot defend themselves, and it is wrong.”
Cruz holds that the U.S. military should be permitted to operate at full capacity and to do what needs to be done. Thus he vows to “carpet bomb” Islamic State (aka ISIS) into oblivion and to make “sand glow” if that’s what it takes to end the threat posed by jihadists and their supporters. In other words, Cruz unabashedly puts total war and nuclear weapons on the table. Needless to say, no other candidate does so.
Cruz acknowledges that the Islamic theocracy in Iran is a major sponsor of terrorism against America and, indeed, that “Iran has declared war on us.” And he promises that if he is elected president, “under no circumstances will Iran be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons,” adding, “if the ayatollah doesn’t understand that, we may have to help introduce him to his seventy-two virgins.”
That is how a U.S. president should speak. He should name our enemies, acknowledge that they have attacked us, mock them, and make clear that the United States has the means and the will to convert them to dust.
Cruz also promises, “If I am elected president, on the very first day in office, I will rip to shreds this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal.” And he says directly to the Iranian regime: “Either you will shut down your nuclear program, or we will shut it down for you.” Again, this is how the commander in chief of the U.S military should speak. He should be authoritative, articulate, and resolute. And, of the candidates running for the presidency, only Cruz exhibits these qualities.
In regard to Israel, Cruz recognizes this tiny, productive, rights-respecting state as America’s number one ally in the war against jihadists, and he promises that, under his administration, “America will stand unapologetically with the nation of Israel.” Our alliance with Israel, says Cruz, is “a strategic bedrock for the United States.”
America’s security is significantly enhanced by a strong Israel. Israel has been, is, and always will be the Middle East bulwark in defense of the West. Our American-Israeli alliance is something to celebrate. . . . [My] administration will on day one recognize Jerusalem as the eternal, undivided capital of Israel; and the U.S. embassy will be moved to Israel’s capital city. [We will] support Israel’s regional qualitative military edge and make sure that, especially in light of the worsening security climate caused by Iran and ISIS, Israel has everything it needs to defend itself.
No other candidate stands unapologetically with Israel, much less calls our alliance with the Israelis something to celebrate. Once again, Cruz stands alone.
Finally, Cruz acknowledges commonsense facts such as that the United States should stop accepting refugees from “countries with a significant al-Qaeda or ISIS presence” and that we should “empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.” (By “radicalized” Cruz means: likely to generate homegrown jihadists.) Of course, such ideas are not “politically correct”; rather, they are morally correct. And, of the candidates running for president, only Cruz advocates them.
Would a President Cruz follow through on all of these ideas? Maybe. Maybe not. But he has advocated these ideas and made these promises during his campaign; thus, if he is elected he will have a mandate to uphold them. And, to severely understate the case, no other candidate’s positions, ideas, or promises regarding foreign policy come even remotely close to being as good as his.
In regard to foreign policy, Cruz is the clear-cut choice for this lover of liberty.
Taxing, Spending, and Shackling Americans
On the domestic front, Cruz offers a similarly rational set of ideas.
The U.S. government has violated the rights of Americans in myriad ways for many decades. Through its mind-thwarting regulations and draconian taxation the government has destroyed countless dreams, ruined countless businesses, and throttled the U.S. economy in countless ways. Cruz, of course, has no magic bullet, nor does he have all the answers. But he does have some seriously good ideas about how to begin moving America back in the direction of being a rights-respecting, productive, economic powerhouse.
Cruz aims to free Americans of a substantial number of rights-violating policies and departments. His proposals include abolishing the Internal Revenue Service and establishing a simplified tax code with a 10 percent flat tax for individuals, and a 16 percent flat tax for businesses. Granted, this proposal entails serious complications because all taxation violates rights and because replacing the existing tax code with a flat tax will disproportionately harm some individuals and businesses in the short term. But eliminating the IRS and simplifying the tax code is an unmitigatedly good goal, in that (a) it would help to clarify what the government is doing in this area and how much it is taking from whom—and (b) it would free Americans from having to spend obscene amounts of time and money preparing their taxes every year. And, of course, no other viable candidate has proposed anything of the sort.
In regard to other agencies that violate rights, ruin lives, and sap the economy, Cruz aims to eliminate the Departments of Education, Energy, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development. Toward this end, he promises, “I will press Congress relentlessly. And I will appoint heads of each of those agencies whose central charge will be to lead the effort to wind them down.” This is huge. Eliminating the Department of Education alone would substantially improve the lives of Americans by orders of magnitude. And no other candidate in the running would even consider such a proposal, let alone make it a major part of his campaign platform.
Cruz further aims to cut at least twenty-five other federal agencies, bureaus, commissions, and programs—including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
And, of course, Cruz promises to do everything he can to encourage Congress to “repeal every single word of Obamacare.”
All of this is good—and only Cruz embraces or advocates any of it.
Calling Out Dishonest Politicians
Dishonesty in politics is not merely rampant; it is a fundamental cause of all other political problems. And Cruz is already doing something about it.
Cruz demands honesty from politicians, and he openly calls out anyone—including fellow Republicans—for lying if and when they lie. For instance, in October 2015, during hearings regarding the $80 billion budget proposal, Cruz called out those who were being dishonest about the nature and meaning of the plan in question. “We’ll spend now for a promise that ten years hence we’ll magically cut spending,” said Cruz, summarizing the deal. “Nobody in this chamber believes that. Nobody in the House of Representatives believes that. No member of the press believes that. Everyone understands this is a lie. It is an agreed-to lie by everyone.” And Cruz showed, using actual data and simple graphs, that it obviously was a lie. (See the video here.)
Such honesty and forthrightness is almost unheard of in a politician today. No wonder so many politicians dislike Cruz. He cramps their dishonest style.
The Federal Reserve, Money, and Banking
Cruz also shines on a number of subjects relating to the Federal Reserve, money, and banking. In regard to the causes of the 2008 financial crisis, for instance, Cruz acknowledges, “The Fed’s policy destabilizing our money contributed powerfully both to the bubble and collapse.” In regard to monetary policy, he calls for returning to a gold standard or, as he puts it, “keeping our money tied to a stable level of gold.” And, in regard to bank regulations, he calls for repealing the Dodd-Frank Act, which, he observes, has “killed hundreds and even thousands of small financial institutions.”
No other candidate acknowledges such facts or advocates such reforms.
Corporate Welfare and Subsidies
Cruz recognizes that the government should not be in the business of bailing out or propping up businesses—including big businesses—and he takes a principled stand on such matters.
For instance, during the Fox Business Network debate between the GOP candidates, in answer to the question “Would you bail out the big banks in a financial crisis?”—a question all the other candidates had dodged—Cruz said “Absolutely not.” When pressed and asked whether he truly would let banks the size of Bank of America fail if they were on the brink, Cruz said, “Let me be clear. I would not bail them out.”
Similarly, when Cruz was asked during a Texas Senate Republican runoff debate whether the government should have bailed out General Motors, he replied:
Of course we shouldn’t have . . . I don’t support bailouts, period. I don’t support the bailout of the auto companies. I don’t support the bailout of the banks. Government shouldn’t be in the business of spending taxpayer money to help private corporations. The role of government is to protect our rights, to protect our national security, to ensure rule of law and to stay out of the way and let entrepreneurs create jobs.
On the same principle, Cruz opposes ethanol subsidies and campaigned accordingly in Iowa—where he then won the Iowa caucus. He also opposes oil subsidies and campaigned accordingly in Texas—where he proceeded to win that primary.
Taking such stands and achieving such wins shows that being rationally principled works. And, of the candidates running for president, only Cruz does it.
Appreciation for Ayn Rand’s Ideas
Cruz is a fan of Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, and his appreciation for Rand’s work is no small matter. Of course, Cruz is not an Objectivist and doesn’t pretend to be. But he sees great value in Ayn Rand’s ideas. He sees Rand’s ideas as both principled and practical. This is why he brings them up in regard to Obamacare and other real-world problems of the day. And it is why he has mentioned Rand’s work not once but twice on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
In September 2013, Senator Cruz read excerpts from Atlas Shrugged during a speech in which he called for defunding Obamacare on the grounds that the law is contrary to liberty, morality, and the American way of life. His reading from Atlas began as follows:
We’re a nation that was founded on liberty. Always defend liberty. You know you really can’t go wrong with that as a motto. In the interest of that, I’d like to share a few excerpts from one of my favorite books, Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand.
Now let me encourage any of you who have not read Atlas Shrugged to go tomorrow, buy Atlas Shrugged, and read it. What’s interesting is in the last three years my understanding is that sales of Atlas Shrugged have exploded, because we are living in the days [anticipated by] Ayn Rand . . .
Among the excerpts Cruz then proceeded to read is the section on productivity from Galt’s speech, including this:
Productiveness is your acceptance of morality, your recognition of the fact that you choose to live—that productive work is the process by which man’s consciousness controls his existence, a constant process of acquiring knowledge and shaping matter to fit one’s purpose, of translating an idea into physical form, of remaking the earth in the image of one’s values—that all work is creative work if done by a thinking mind, and no work is creative if done by a blank who repeats in uncritical stupor a routine he has learned from others—that your work is yours to choose, and the choice is as wide as your mind, that nothing more is possible to you and nothing less is human—that to cheat your way into a job bigger than your mind can handle is to become a fear-corroded ape on borrowed motions and borrowed time, and to settle down into a job that requires less than your mind’s full capacity is to cut your motor and sentence yourself to another kind of motion: decay—that your work is the process of achieving your values, and to lose your ambition for values is to lose your ambition to live—that your body is a machine, but your mind is its driver, and you must drive as far as your mind will take you, with achievement as the goal of your road—that the man who has no purpose is a machine that coasts downhill at the mercy of any boulder to crash in the first chance ditch, that the man who stifles his mind is a stalled machine slowly going to rust, that the man who lets a leader prescribe his course is a wreck being towed to the scrap heap, and the man who makes another man his goal is a hitchhiker no driver should ever pick up—that your work is the purpose of your life, and you must speed past any killer who assumes the right to stop you, that any value you might find outside your work, any other loyalty or love, can be only travelers you choose to share your journey and must be travelers going on their own power in the same direction.
Cruz also read the passage in which Dagny Taggart poses the question, “What is morality?”—and receives the answer, “Judgment to distinguish right and wrong, vision to see the truth, courage to act upon it, dedication to that which is good, integrity to stand by the good at any price.” After pausing to let that sink in, Cruz said:
That’s counsel that the United States Senate should listen to. That’s counsel that I would encourage every Democratic senator who feels the urge of party loyalty to [listen to] . . . I would encourage my friends on the Democratic side of the aisle: As difficult as it is to cross one’s Party leaders, I say, with perhaps a little familiarity of the consequences of so doing, that it’s survivable—and that ultimately it is liberating.
(See the video here.)
Two years later, in October 2015, Cruz again mentioned Atlas on the Senate floor, this time in connection with how the government’s massive spending in practically every sector of the economy effectively forces businessmen to lobby legislators for special favors. As he put it: “Ayn Rand wrote in Atlas Shrugged about how productive members of society, business owners, would be forced to go to parasitical politicians (although some might suggest that’s a redundant phrase) on bended knee, begging for special dispensations.”
Imagine the possibility of a U.S. president speaking from the Oval Office, “I’d like to share a few excerpts from one of my favorite books, Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand . . .” and encouraging Americans, “go tomorrow, buy Atlas Shrugged, and read it.”
In other words, imagine President Ted Cruz.
There is more to like about Cruz, but the foregoing is sufficient to show that he is remarkably good in several ways.
Cruz also has significant flaws, and they are worth mentioning.
In large part because he embraces Christianity, Cruz is inconsistent in his defense of rights, and his inconsistencies here are not trivial. Among other serious negatives: He opposes a woman’s right to seek an abortion because he believes a fetus has rights as granted by God at conception. He opposes the rights of Americans to hire rights-respecting foreigners who want to work for U.S.-based companies (via his proposed immigration policy). And he claims a county clerk (Kim Davis) had a right to refuse to do the government job she was hired to do and is paid by taxpayers to do—a job that required her to issue marriage licenses for gay couples—and nevertheless to remain employed by the government.
Cruz is a Christian who takes his religion (semi) seriously. And I certainly understand why people of reason distrust a politician who believes there is “a guy in the sky” to whom we owe faith and obedience. All manner of irrational and life-throttling ideas can follow (and have followed) from that fantasy.
But Ted Cruz is not a theocrat. In the realm of politics, he recognizes that the U.S. Constitution takes precedence over his religion. As he puts it:
My faith is an integral part of who I am. I’m a Christian, and I’m not embarrassed to say that. I’m not going to hide that and treat it like something you can’t admit publicly. . . .
But I also think that those in politics have an obligation not to wear their faith on their sleeve. There have been far too many politicians who run around behaving like they’re holier than thou. My attitude as a voter, when some politician stands up and says “I’m running because God told me to run” [a veiled reference to Marco Rubio], my reaction is “Great, when God tells me to vote for you we’ll be on the same page.”
I’m not asking for your vote because of my personal faith. . . . I’m asking you to vote for me because I’ve spent a lifetime fighting to defend the Constitution and Bill of Rights, fighting to defend the American free enterprise system. And we need a leader who will stand up every day and protect the rights of everyone, whether they’re Christians or Jews or Muslims or anyone else. The Bill of Rights protects all Americans. It protects atheists. That’s the beauty of the Bill of Rights. . . . The Constitution and the Bill of Rights [embody] a unifying principle that can bring us together across faiths, across races, across ethnicities—and we need to come together behind the unifying principles that built America.
Cruz is far from flawless. But he is by far the best viable candidate running for president today.
We don’t get to dream up a flawless candidate and make him real. We have to choose among the actual alternatives, or enter a protest vote, or choose not to vote. Those are our only alternatives.
Given the foregoing facts, Cruz is the clear-cut best choice for America.
If you agree, share this article with everyone you think might appreciate it. And support Cruz in any way you selfishly can. You can contribute to his campaign fund here.
By Craig Biddle