Ever since Sarah Palin haphazardly burst onto the scene in the 2008 elections, the former half-term Alaskan Governor’s thematic influence has never ceased to inspire the veritable vault of wingnuts to wreak havoc upon educated, informed and responsible discourse in American politics.
From foreign policy blunders to social issues, economic unrest to civil rights, the “Palination” of the American Right continues to dictate its methodologies of speaking “truth to power”, even if said truth is far from it.
While she was missing from the official ballots in 2012, her voice, reach and fiery lack-of-wit were never absent. In fact, one might assert that – as separate pieces of the same person – various former hopefuls like Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann all channeled her special brand of know-nothing pulpit pounding in the campaigns just prior to MItt Romney’s 2012 defeat in their own, special ways.
This go ’round, however, things are looking a bit sunnier for American comedy, as it seems we just may getting a Palin 2.0 – not in the form of Mama Grizzly herself, but rather a new-ish face to Right wing stupidity: Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
Cruz, who became initially infamous in his Tea Party tirades and government-shutdown tactics against the Affordable Care Act, has since made an equal mockery of various, sweeping issues.
Just last week, I briefly wrote on Cruz’s inept approach to the American education system, in which he declared to his adoring Twitter followers that the federal government is responsible for the Common Core State Standards (which it is not), in a weakly-veiled, factless attempt to incite even more disdain for “big brother gum’mint” amongst the mouth-breathing throngs of Tea Party sympathizers. Pretty much the entire internet called the Senator out on this factual faux pas, but he and his still-premature campaign never skipped a beat or batted an eye.
In the very same week, California Governor Jerry Brown (D) called out Cruz as being “absolutely unfit” to be president due to the Senator’s ludicrous, ignorant assertions over climate change.
“That man betokens such a level of ignorance and a direct falsification of existing scientific data,” said Brown. “It’s shocking, and I think that man has rendered himself absolutely unfit to be running for office.”
Pretty bad press under normal circumstances. But, as is evident with Right wing politics time and time again, sound bites are quickly absorbed and rarely questioned by those who would absorb them. So – as not to be dissuaded by irony at its least subtle, the Cruz camp chose this morning via Twitter to officially announced his candidacy for the 2016 presidential elections.
Now, arguably it is very early to make any predictions regarding the final outcome of the 2016 election cycle. Typically, most candidates to announce so early fizzle out some months before the actual election – usually after the first one or two primary debates. But what is interesting – and soon to be proven as downright comedically entertaining, even if tragically so – is that the Canadian born Senator Ted Cruz (birth certificate, anyone? Anyone?) embodies nearly every one of Palin’s “you betcha” key points.
Foreign relations? Check. Economy? Check. Climate change? Check. Social equality? Check.
First into the “clown car”, Cruz has a long list of – ahem – shall we say, “challenges” to overcome should he hope to persuade actual thinking voters that he is the man for the job.
As Governor Brown so bluntly yet accurately pointed out, Cruz’s rejection of real, scientific data concerning climate change – findings that are well into the vast majority of all collected studies on the subject – are so absurdly anti-intelligence that it begs the question: Where is this man getting his “data”? He continues to forge ahead with universally debunked claims of recent weather bursts negating the encompassing causes and effects of global climate change. Why? Because his followers, his supporters and inevitably his voters will – as they did with Palin – believe him no matter what the facts actually are.
On an economic front, the Senator is on record as supporting the disbandment of Social Security, referring to it admonishingly as a “ponzi scheme” while at the same time suggesting we raise the retirement age by three years and convert to a privatized system (a plan which was halted by Congress under G.W. Bush in 2005). If you recall the debates and subsequent sound bites from 2008, Palin’s sentiments were – and still are – identical.
Regarding social equality, Cruz is unabashedly homophobic. He has pushed bills and even a federal constitutional amendment to allow states to deny the freedom to marry to same-sex couples. In 2014, he referred to multiple court rulings overturning state same-sex marriage bans as “judicial activism at its worst,” and “tragic and indefensible.”
“Traditional marriage is an institution whose integrity and vitality are critical to the health of any society,” he argued. “We should remain faithful to our moral heritage and never hesitate to defend it.”
And speaking of morality, Cruz is outspokenly anti-Islam while being a firm supporter of establishing a religious state based on “Judeo-Christian values”, despite our Constitution’s (and our founders’) insistence on a separation of church and state. He is also anti-premarital sex, profanity, and “lude” entertainment, and is against any and all abortion rights as well as basic access to contraception for women. Rather notoriously, he backed legislation that would strip the Affordable Care Act of language concerning contraception coverage, sexually related or otherwise.
Because, you know, Jesus.
Now, as I mentioned above, it is early in the campaign season to even bother with his discreditation. But, consider history: Sarah Palin is – although without political power – stronger than ever with regard to political influence. Nearly every word I have written here can be applied to her, whether as a Governor running for a VP seat, or a media clown feverishly clamoring for ratings.
Like Palin, Cruz speaks to people without the know-how to learn for themselves, To dissect banter. To disregard blather. To delve into information and base their judgement upon sound, factual findings and true morality.
But beyond her, he is something that demands to be reckoned with. He is – despite his rhetoric – educated with two Ivy League degrees. He hits all the right notes, and expertly so. Anti-equality, anti-religious freedom, anti-immigration. A pro-Israel war hawk. A social conservative. Libertarian, evangelical Baptist. Offspring of anti-Castro refugees. He is the new “maverick” for his people, the GOP party member who isn’t exactly a member of any party. He has been admonished from both sides of the aisle (even Republican Senator John McCain once referred to Cruz as a “wacko bird”), and he knows his supporters will eat that up.
He riles his base with quick-talking nepotism that reinvigorates their own disdain for anything even resembling something not born in the “Right” way. His speech, his tone, his derisiveness all shock them into believers.
He drives their anger and will use it, one way or another.