Sen. Ted Cruz Offers a Choice, Not an Echo

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

When I read the report that Sen. Ted Cruz is going to oppose President Obama’s nomination of Loretta Lynch to be Attorney General, I thought, “There’s a gutsy choice.” I mean, who doubts that Cruz will be bombarded, once again, by the usual liberal hit-men, from Jon Stewart to E.J. Dionne to Rachel Maddow?

Even now, I can hear the shriek of the incoming barrage: “Cruz is playing the race card!”
But of course, Cruz is no racist. He is, after all, Hispanic; he carries multi-ethnicity in his very being. Moreover, if he had any observable racist tendencies, he never would have been admitted to such Ivy League bastions as Princeton University and Harvard Law School. And while at Harvard, for example, if he had said even one naughty thing, he never would have been chosen to help lead the prestigious Law Review. To be sure, his mostly liberal-leftist fellow students described Cruz as “polarizing”—we on the right can translate that as “principled”—but even the relentlessly left-wing Boston Globe couldn’t find anyone to call him a racist.
So why is Cruz now opposing the African-American Lynch? Why is he willing to bring down upon himself the full weight of the MSM avalanche? Here’s one answer: He thinks that Lynch disqualified herself when she said that illegal aliens have a right to a job in America, and that Obama’s amnesty is not amnesty.
And oh yes, there are other considerations weighing against Lynch: We have every reason to believe that she will carry on all of Eric Holder’s divisive policies; indeed, it has been reported that she was Al Sharpton’s choice for the top job at the Justice Department.
So here’s the funny thing: No Republican this side of MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough would even consider Lynch for the AG post, and yet a number of GOP Senators, including South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, have already indicated they will vote for her. Okay, the likes of Graham seem to be saying, Lynch wouldn’t be our choice, but nonetheless, she’s good enough for the job. And yet a Republican vote in favor of her confirmation counts for just as much as a Democratic vote. Yes, it’s a strange world when Republicans join Democrats in voting for a nominee that only Democrats should love.
So now let’s consider the situation from the perspective of the Republican grassroots: How does it look in the eyes of, say, a Tea Party activist that Republican Senators, too, will be voting to confirm Lynch? A Conservative, or a Libertarian, or a Constitutionalist has a right to wonder: What’s the point of electing a Republican Senate if it simply rubber-stamps what the Democrats do?
Cicero is old enough to have seen this show before. In fact, I am reminded of Phyllis Schafly’s famous book from 1964, A Choice, Not an Echo. In that work, Schlafly argued that an upper crust of elite “Republican kingmakers” had controlled the GOP since since the 1930s, nominating “me too” Republican candidates, all but one of whom lost—and none of whom were conservative. The result of this ideological straitjacketing, Schlafly continued, was that the American people were deprived of a true choice: All they saw on the ballot was a liberal Democrat and then an echo—that is, a liberal Republican.
As Schlafly put it, “The voters expect Republicans to be Republicans, and Democrats to be Democrats.” Her book, of course, was a vindication of the presidential candidacy of Sen. Barry Goldwater, the conservative insurgent who threatened to break the three-decade-long Establishment stranglehold on the GOP. And in fact, a few months after the Schlafly book was published, Goldwater secured the Republican nomination.
Yes, the Goldwater forces took over the Party on the basis of their willingness to buck the bipartisan Establishment. That is, the Goldwaterites wanted the voters to have a real choice—and they were the choice.
For example, the year before, the Arizona Senator had staked out a lonely stand against the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, which he viewed as dangerously weakening our nuclear deterrent. As Goldwater said on the floor of the Senate, “I do not vote against the hope of peace, but only against the illusion of it. I do not vote for war, but for the strength to prevent it.” And then he continued,
I have been told, as have others, I am sure, that to vote against this treaty is to commit political suicide. I will vote against this treaty because in my heart, mind, soul and conscience, I feel it detrimental to the strength of my country. If it means political suicide to vote for my country and against this treaty, then I commit it gladly. It is not my future that concerns me. It is my country—and what my conscience tells me is how best I may preserve it.
In September 1963, the Senate ratified the Test-Ban Treaty by a vote of 80 to 19. Goldwater, never afraid to be in the minority, was one of the 19.
And yet here’s something interesting: Ten months later, this lonely “no” vote was the Republican nominee for President. Goldwater lost the general election, of course, but he had made his mark: Indeed, his candidacy gave rise to the revitalized conservative movement that ultimately, in 1980, elected Ronald Reagan.
So now to today: In opposing Lynch’s nomination, Sen. Cruz is standing up for what he believes—in fact, for what the vast majority of Republicans believe. So tell me again: Why would any Republican Senator vote for her?
Yet yet can ask: What will the Republican kingmakers—to revive Schlafly’s term—think of Cruz now?
If recent history is any guide, elite Republicans—you know, the folks who gave us Mitt Romney—will join the Democrats in pounding Cruz. In other words, the Establishment GOP will be mostly echo Obama. Maybe not exactly, but close enough.
So will the Republican kingmakers triumph once again? Will the Republican grassroots meekly go along with the “wisdom” of the Establishment? Today, there’s no way to know the answer those questions: All we know is that Cruz, perhaps joined by others, is standing up and providing Republicans with a real choice. And as economists like to say, The only power we have in this world is the power of an alternative.