Ted Cruz Exploits Country’s Frustrations, But Faces High Hurdles

Ted Cruz Exploits Country’s Frustrations, But Faces High Hurdles

© CHRIS KEANE / Reuters

Are Americans angry enough to elect Ted Cruz? The feisty Texas senator has made his name by refusing to play by the rules; he is brash and disruptive. For these reasons, he is not a conventional candidate, but rather someone who might appeal to those who are hopping mad at President Obama and with mainstream politicians in both parties.

The good news for Cruz, according to Rasmussen, is “Eighty-five percent of Republicans and 68 percent of voters not affiliated with either major political party say the country is on the wrong track.” That’s the group Cruz is aiming at, and they’re fed up with “business as usual.”

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Millions of Americans feel that their concerns have been ignored by President Obama and belittled by the media. Americans who believe in God, who pay taxes, who have worked to put their kids through college for and saved for their own retirements, who hold traditional values, and who voted in the midterm elections – only to see the defiant president brandish his pen and his phone in pursuit of policies they don’t like.

What gets these people fired up? For one, it’s having their religious beliefs dismissed by the intelligentsia as insignificant or outdated, and ignored by policymakers. People who for religious reasons disapprove of abortion, for instance, are treated as unreasonable outliers, even though the polling continues to indicate that the country is split right down the middle on abortion. Measures to limit abortions to early months, during which the fetus would not be able to survive on its own, are portrayed by the media and by Democrats as interfering with a woman’s right to choose. Surely, there is room for debate; should doctors truly be allowed to dispose of a viable fetus?

The vast majority (75 percent to 85 percent, depending on the survey) of the country is Christian, and yet every Christmas the simple act of lighting a tree on the village green turns into a constitutional argument. Does the majority not get a vote? Is it so upsetting for the few atheists amongst us to confront a Crèche?

People are tired of the government encroaching on their lives. To have Washington forbidding bake sales in schools, requiring teens to get a permit before they can shovel snow, arresting parents who leave their kids in their car for five minutes – this meddling makes people mad.

Related: One Big Thing Ted Cruz Forgot in Launching His 2016 Campaign

The federal government is, of course, intrusive in bigger ways. This is at the heart of the debate over Common Core. Historically, local school districts have set curriculum and policy – not Washington. The effort to establish coast-to-coast standards and require more national testing has infuriated millions.

Similarly, there is lingering resentment over Obamacare. Despite hundreds of pitches by President Obama and others attesting to the wonders of the federal healthcare program, the country is still unconvinced. A recent Rasmussen poll showed nearly 60 percent of likely U.S. voters think that lowering “the cost of health care is more important than making sure that everyone has health insurance.” That has not been President Obama’s priority. In the depths of a recession, Mr. Obama touted the “Affordable” part of the ACA, trying to win over the public. Few were fooled.   

Many Americans are outraged about government snooping, believing their right to privacy has been compromised. They fear that they are not being told the truth about federal seizures of emails and recordings of telephone conversations. It all seems vaguely Orwellian, and alarming.

The Obama administration has also angered many with its dogged pursuit of climate change initiatives – at the expense of jobs. The “war on coal” and other policies, such as the refusal to permit construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, appear indifferent to the needs of workers, and of the economy overall. Even as the public has been bombarded with endless alarms on the menace of climate change, the issue continues to rank at the bottom of their concerns according to Gallup.

Related: Cruz’s Forked Tongue Hurts His Presidential Chances

White America is also tired of being portrayed as racist. President Obama has said that racism “is deeply rooted in our society.” On numerous occasions, the White House has charged that racism was at play, and has granted race-baiter Al Sharpton a prominent seat at the table. There are indeed those who hate blacks, Jews, Muslims, and any ethnic group group their limited experience doesn't appreciate. However, for a majority white country that elected a black president – twice – the accusation is galling.

People are also angry that President Obama has circumvented Congress in granting protection from deportation – “amnesty” to conservatives – to millions here illegally. Many think that we need to resolve our immigration issues, but consider the president’s approach unconstitutional.  

Ted Cruz will not be alone in mining these frustrations. But he may well be the most articulate. In his speech announcing his candidacy, he promised to “reignite the promise of America,” to ditch Obamacare, to “defend the sanctity of human life,” “secure the border,” “uphold the sacrament of marriage,” repeal Common Core and protect the “privacy rights of every American.” 

These are all mainstream conservative positions. More powerful has been Cruz’s trashing of Senate convention, which suggests an intolerance for the status quo and has won him millions of followers. And, he has an appealing backstory.

Related: What Ted Cruz’s Announcement Reveals About His 2016 Campaign

Cruz was born in Canada to a Cuban father and American mother. This gives g him some license to protest illegal immigration but also raises one of many questions: Since he was not born in the U.S., can he run for president?

Though some legal scholars maintain that his mother’s citizenship qualifies him, the question has rarely arisen and has never been settled through the courts. An aggressive competitor could force the issue.               

Cruz’s bigger problems are his lack of standing with moderate Republicans and his lack of popularity with women. Still, Cruz is a skilled politician. He is smart, and his Ivy League credentials give him some gravitas. In fact, these qualities and his renown as a first-term senator remind us of President Obama.

That similarity may prove Cruz’ biggest hurdle of all.

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