Many on the left, including myself, have a certain disdain for Senator Ted Cruz, an extreme conservative from Texas who is largely credited with being responsible for the government shutdown. Many liberals I know have referred to him as an ‘idiot’ or ‘utter moron’, and as a somewhat biased liberal myself I assumed that these characterizations were correct. However, tonight I learned from a friend of mine that some of these biased prejudices are not wholly accurate.
Unbeknownst to me, he is a highly educated individual. He graduated cum laude from Princeton University, specializing in international affairs. A skilled debater, he came in first place at a national debating championship. Following his undergraduate career, he attended Harvard Law School, graduating magna cum laude while also serving as an editor of Harvard Law Review.
It is undoubtedly easy to view opposing points of view as irrational. Likewise, it is not uncommon for liberals to view extreme Republicans as either uninformed or evil. Whether or not this is a false dichotomy remains to be seen. However, in the case of Ted Cruz it seems incorrect to label him as unintelligent. His academic successes and oratory skills are certainly that of an astute individual.
At the same time liberals and conservatives alike may question the rationale behind his extremist views. While everyone is entitled to their beliefs, some of his dogmas seem arbitrary. In this week’s Economist they discuss how Cruz’s, “revulsion for subsidies is selective: he has little to say about the unsustainably soaring cost of taxpayer-funded health care for the elderly,” yet he fights tooth and nail other entitlements and policies of government financing. Perhaps this has something to do with his dependence on elderly constituents for votes.
His impressive academic transcript and extremist views aside, Ted Cruz remains the man holding our government hostage for repeal of Obamacare, a piece of legislation passed by Congress, and upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States of America. It may be that Ted Cruz skipped out on his constitutional law classes back at Harvard, or perhaps he simply believes that a law is only constitutional if he says it is. Either way we will soon find out how steady his resolve is. Given that every week the government is shutdown economists have predicted a drop of 0.1-0.2% in quarterly growth rates, one can only hope that this whole debacle ends quickly.