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Ted Cruz: Politics Texas family style

TedCruz Sen. Ted Cruz. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Texans consume politics like barbecue. We grab a plate, find a seat, and declare our political position. Every day offers a political story in the (currently on the electoral maps) Red State of Texas. So it’s no surprise that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), whose politics lie on the outer realms of conservatism, would diss his Canadian citizenship — he was born in Calgary, Alberta to a Cuban father and an American-born mother — in favor of his roots in the U.S.

“I’ve been American since birth,” Cruz was reported as saying by NBC  News.

Frills like dual citizenship aren’t necessary when the goal is the White House. Besides, every full-blooded Texan knows that singing “O Canada” doesn’t compare to several hearty rounds of “The Eyes of Texas.”

It’s also not surprising that Cruz would propose shutting down the federal government unless the Affordable Care Act is defunded. In Texas, our politics are nothing, if not extreme. Scoring a political point is a Texas right: like air-conditioned SUVs and space to roam. Political one-upmanship is also a Texas fact: like hot August days and toll roads.

Then again, perhaps Cruz wants the public to focus on the health-care debate and not his personal history. Cruz knows that supplying a birth certificate doesn’t mean your parentage won’t haunt you at the polls. Or at the golf course. Or at the dinner table. Or in an Internet pop-up ad draped in red, white and blue. Recent political history with President Obama proved that. Truth is always suspicious to some folks.

Threatening a government shut-down before the current funding expires Sept. 30, may be the best dare-me move initiated by Cruz, who could be revving up for a presidential run in 2016. (He has refused to speculate on his legal eligibility, however.) A government shutdown isn’t your garden-variety threat because the implications could trigger staggering electoral misfires for the GOP in the 2014 elections. But Cruz is moving forward with his Wild-West tactic. Apparently, he will stand up for his base, no matter what the cost — even if it means splitting with less-radically inspired sections of the Republican Party.

Tuesday night Cruz was here in Dallas to stump about defunding the health-care law. Supporters drowned out the few protesters who shouted, “You have health care, we should too!”

The Washington Post reported that Cruz responded by saying:

“I’ll make an observation about those two young men,” Cruz said, after the noise subsided. “Number one, I agree with them. They should have health care and Obamacare is causing more and more people struggling to climb the economic ladder to lose their health care.”

Then, Cruz lauded his supporters for outnumbering the opposition.

“Every time they’ve come to protest in Texas, they’ve sent a small group of people, and ya’ll have outnumbered them two, and three, and four to one.”

Again, remember that Texans consume politics like ribs and potato salad. If you don’t push your way through line, you may not get fed. To drown out Cruz and his supporters, the simple thing to do is to recruit a larger posse to attend GOP buffets headlined by the senator.

Which seems to be the issue for Republicans in Texas and beyond. Cruz has amassed a formidable platform of power. But how does he really look as a possible presidential candidate? How would the Cruz Brand appear next to, say, Hillary Clinton? Is the Cruz Brand an electable image?

Oh. Well. That’s Texas politics — reliably complex. We have wacky political cousins, and we have to figure out how to get along at family reunions. We are Democrats and Republicans and every affiliation in between, and family is all we have. We’ve already lost the good image award in some circles. Surely Canada feels slighted by Cruz, and here in the States, the Business Insider reported on Tuesday that a poll showed that most Americans would kick Texas out of the union.

And leaving the republic isn’t such a bad idea for some members of the family. Remember the secession petition filed after the 2012 presidential election? You can fill fleets of Ford F-150s with Texas cousins who, if given a chance, wouldn’t mind seceding anyway.




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Joann Weiner · August 21, 2013

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