To hear Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and other Republican presidential candidates tell it, America is a country on the brink of collapse. It is they, the candidates promise, who will “make America great again” – the Donald Trump slogan – and will rescue the United States from the Obama catastrophe and the certain doom of a Hillary Clinton presidency.
The country is not on the brink of collapse. It has weathered the Great Recession that began in the George W. Bush presidency, gained several million jobs, installed a government health insurance plan now helping roughly 16 million people, expanded Medicaid (though not in North Carolina, regrettably). Still, the doomsayers are still turning up the volume.
It has been a campaign that would bring a blush even to the late Barry Goldwater, the Arizona senator and nominee in the disastrous (for the GOP) 1964 election, when ideologues captured the party. Their message then was shallow, fear-mongering and divisive.
Cruz came to Raleigh this week with a sour refrain bashing Trump and Obama and promising to dismantle the Internal Revenue Service, Planned Parenthood and the Common Core educational standards. Oh, and he’d repeal the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.
Another centerpiece of the Cruz platform would establish a “flat tax,” long a darling of wealthy conservatives who want a big break for themselves while tossing a few extra cinder blocks on the backs of the middle class.
It’s interesting that Cruz, who once read Dr. Seuss on the Senate floor in a filibuster and is so abrasive and intolerant that even his mates in the “Senate club” don’t care for him, now is the hope of the party mainstream, who fear a Trump nomination would guarantee Clinton’s election and destroy the modern Republican Party.
Appearing at Calvary Baptist Church in Raleigh, Cruz hit his talking points, almost all of them negative. Planned Parenthood, though it gets no federal money for abortions, is a GOP target despite its help for millions of women with health care. Common Core has at least set minimum standards so parents can better tell how their kids are progressing in school.
What is Ted Cruz for? What hopes does he have? What dreams does he have to help the less fortunate? What programs does he want to cure cancer and Alzheimer’s disease? What plans does he have to help average American families restore the dreams crushed by the recession?
He must be saving those answers for later. Time’s limited, after all, and dispatching Trump is Priority One. What then? No Republican seems to know, which should frighten, equally, the party and the American people.