By Steven Kurlander
There’s a young, brash new sheriff in DC town, a very smart gunslinger.
He’s come on a mission to reform dysfunction conservative politics in Washington and reposition a lackluster and devolving GOP back in the “right” direction.
While most freshmen Senators historically have been expected to lay low and work their way up the archaic hierarchical system that has defined the US Senate for centuries, Texas Senator Ted Cruz has done the opposite. He has already vociferously challenged Senate colleagues and leadership seeking middle ground on the immigration and gun control issues with what would have years ago been called a self destructive vengeance.
As a result, he’s instantly become a major force both in GOP politics and in the Senate chamber too. This freshman senator from Texas has begun to turn the Senate, and Washington, upside down, all within his first four months in office
The 42 year old attorney, a son of an Cuban immigrant father and graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law, is described by political writers as “fiery,” “audacious,” “a Tea Party bully” and “a champion of conservativism.” He has in fact already stood out on the Senate floor and gained national attention in stridently opposing the nomination of Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary, has been the most audacious opponent of a bipartisan approach led by Senator Marco Rubio of Florida to immigration reform, and has fought very hard against bipartisan 2nd Amendment limitations being proposed as a result of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
Others are describing him as the “anti Marco Rubio,” for not putting ideological beliefs aside and playing along with senior Senate colleagues to hash out some “compromising” action to placate calls for action from both the left and right on the gun and immigration issues. He has stuck to his strong conservative principals, mostly in a refreshing intellectual manner.
And already, some are calling Cruz the next Barack Obama with growing talk of a presidential run despite, like the president, occupying his Senate seat for a short period of time.
But here’s the most important fact about Cruz: Unlike fellow freshman Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and Rubio, Cruz has been so unwavering in his ideological beliefs to the point where he’s succeeded in regenerating a dynamic enthusiasm in a discouraged GOP and Tea Party base.
Much like Rubio, he’s made his way to the Senate only after upsetting the party establishment in his state by leading an insurgent, grass roots Tea Party campaign to win his party’s nomination. But unlike Rubio, who is now working toward capturing a centralist position that makes him a more plausible presidential candidate in 2016, Cruz is succeeding in translating that revolutionary projection to power to become the standard bearer of the conservative movement with roots in Goldwater activism and Reagan pragmatism and is taking head on the intransigent and dysfunctional politics in Washington.
While Cruz is starting to make the national speech circuit with scheduled appearances at major GOP dinners in New York and South Carolina, he is downplaying presidential aspirations:
“I was elected because thousands of grassroots conservatives came together to protect the Constitution, shrink the federal government, and promote growth and opportunity. It is a continued source of amazement that the simple fact that I am working hard with like-minded Senators to keep my promise is seen as newsworthy and cause for wild speculation” Cruz said.
Whether he really runs for president or not, the challenge for Cruz ahead is to build his particular conservative brand absent the divisive religious ideology of the Christian right that has plunged the GOP into political and ideological purgatory. He must also avoid entering the realm of destructive, personal dialogue and headline grabbing that delegitimized the short term of Tea Party favorite Allen West of Florida, or the vitriol of talk radio hosts Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levine that has destroyed the messaging and legitimacy of both the conservative and Tea Party movement.
Cruz is succeeding in plugging a vacuum of meaningful, and more importantly intelligent, conservative activism both in the Senate chamber and in US politics as a whole. He’s also certainly gained the unfettered attention of the left wing press which has already marked him as their prime target, and latest poster child too, for anti-Tea Party and anti-GOP reporting.
Now, what remains to be seen whether Cruz, with his intellectualism, political savvy, and judicial experience as a Supreme Court clerk and Solicitor General of Texas, can in fact become both the next prominent high priest and standard bearer of American conservatism or whether he will drift too into the “West” sunset yet another failed conservative gunslinger.