Even though his filibuster against Obamacare is no proof that Ted Cruz is a real conservative, he deserves much credit for doing what he did.
And his Republican opponents are equally deserving of criticism, for their response to Cruz’s “red line”—and to be sure, Cruz did indeed draw the proverbial red line—is most certainly proof that they are not the conservatives who they claim to be.
First, it is “limited government,” and the individual liberty that this entails, for which Republicans are supposed to stand. Obamacare, though, is perhaps the most glaring affront to limited government and individual liberty that this country has witnessed in a long, long time, and maybe even ever—no mean feat considering just how enormous is the federal government.
So, unless Republicans are willing to make every effort to resist Obamacare, it is safe to assume that they are insincere, that they aren’t really conservatives.
The counter-objection to this line of reasoning—that Cruz’s Republican critics reject his tactics, but not his goal—is disingenuous. This gets us to our next point.
Second, while it may very well be the case that each and every Republican would like to see Obamacare go the way of the dinosaur, this goes no distance in making it their goal. I’d like to produce three best-selling books this year, but unless I am taking steps toward transforming my preferences into reality, this cannot be said to be a genuine goal of mine. Unlike Cruz, his critics have done nothing so far to convince us into thinking that they are determined to repeal it.
In other words, it is far from obvious that his Republican detractors share even his goal.
Third, as for their “tactics,” even on their own terms, the anti-Cruz “wing” of the GOP just doesn’t sound credible.
Cruz, the McCains and others tell us, is a “wacko bird,” a “fraud,” a “grandstander,” and the like, because he knows that his effort to defund Obamacare is bound to fail. That is, Obamacare will not be defunded. A much more promising “tactic” is for the GOP to reclaim the Senate in 2014 and then, then—watch out!—Republicans will deal with Obamacare.
It stretches credibility to the snapping point to think that anyone, let alone those who study politics for a living, could buy this line for a millisecond.
For starters, it is anything but a foregone conclusion that Republicans will reclaim the Senate in 2014. And even if they do, they will not be able to take care of Obamacare, in any way, shape, or form, until at least two years after that, for as long as Obama is president, Republicans’ chances of defunding, much less repealing, Obamacare will be no greater than they are now.
In fact, they will be even worse.
By 2016, Obamacare will have been fully in effect for nearly two years. As anyone so much as remotely familiar with the trajectory of Big Government programs—and there is no bigger Big Government program than Obamacare—knows all too well, once a program begins to fall over a land, it is there to stay.
Translation: Cruz’s detractors’ “tactic” is far weaker than that which he has employed.
Fourth, for as hard as they are at work trying to depict him as a crass opportunist, even Cruz’s opponents know that his campaign to defund Obamacare and his 21 hour filibuster were beyond mere symbolism. After all, that Republicans unanimously vote, and vote repeatedly, against Obamacare proves beyond a doubt that they know as well as anyone all about symbolism. But not only did very few Republicans refuse to stand alongside Cruz; they made a point of denouncing him, of ridiculing him, and doing so in such Democratic-friendly venues as CNN and MSNBC.
Why? It should be clear that they recognized that unlike any other mere act of symbolism, Cruz’s stance against Obamacare required courage, for it comes at a cost.
Cruz upped the ante.
Finally, if it is juvenile, naïve, self-defeating, etc. to try to fight for an end that is not likely to come to pass, as the anti-Cruz forces now insist, then I suppose they would have to agree that those of their base who, say, voted for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan last year were juvenile, naïve, and or self-defeating. Most polls taken during the election season consistently indicated that Romney had little chance of prevailing over Obama. As it turned out, they were accurate.
While many conservatives did indeed refrain from voting for Romney, according to this logic, all of them should have.
For that matter, if, as polls suggest now, Hillary Clinton is likely to have a lock on the presidency in 2016, maybe none of us should even bother voting for her GOP rival—who ever this may be.
Jack Kerwick received his doctoral degree in philosophy from Temple University. His area of specialization is ethics and political philosophy. He is a professor of philosophy at several colleges and universities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Jack blogs at Beliefnet.com: At the Intersection of Faith & Culture. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or friend him on facebook. You can also follow him on twitter.