Is Ted Cruz’s promised Obamacare filibuster the equivalent of King Leonidas’s stand at Thermopylae?

"I will do everything necessary and anything possible to defund Obamacare."

“I will do everything necessary and anything possible to de-fund Obamacare.”

Most people, whether Democrat or Republican, agree that Ted Cruz’s planned filibuster in the Senate is doomed. It will do nothing to stop Obamacare’s inexorable path towards implementation. (To understand precisely what the filibuster is about, Ace has a good, short explanation.)

Because Ted Cruz is nobody’s fool, I’m guessing that he too knows that it won’t stop Obamacare from getting fully implemented within the next few months. Why, then, is Cruz engaged in this quixotic effort? I think I have the answer, but you’ll have to bear with me, because it involves taking a little trip back, back in time . . . to the Battle of Thermopylae.

At the beginning of the 5th Century B.C., the Persian Empire was the largest nation in the ancient world. When Athens and Sparta refused to yield to its demand that the entire Ionian peninsula submit to Persian rule, its emperor, Xerxes, decided on a full-scale attack to bring these arrogant Greeks to heel.

The Persian forces, having bridge the Hellespont, were advancing overland to the pass at Thermopylae. The Spartans, by inclination, temperament, and default, were quite obviously going to be the military leaders in any engagement with Persia. Thermopylae was therefore where the Spartans intended to take a stand.

Although history remembers “the 300” Spartans who stood at the front of the line, the various Greek city-states managed to contribute another 7,000 or so troops to stand against the Persians at this hot, narrow pass. Even 7,000 troops, though, was a frighteningly small showing against the tens of thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) that Xerxes commanded.

King Leonidas of Sparta had a simple battle plan. He placed his 300 warriors at the entrance to the pass, and stationed another 1,000 Phocians on the heights to prevent the Persians from outflanking the waiting Spartan force. The remaining Greek troops were massed behind the Spartans.

When the Persian army finally appeared, Xerxes first send an emissary to negotiate with Leonidas. The Greeks were told that, if they subordinated themselves to Persia, they would be moved to better land than their own Greece. Leonidas refused, understanding that, when you’re a slave, there is no such thing as “better land.”

“Come and take them.”

“Come and take them.”

The ambassador insisted more forcefully that the Spartans and their allies lay down their arms. Leonidas’ response has echoed through the ages: “Come and take them.” (Μολὼν λαβέ or “Molan Labe”.) The Persian ambassador then threatened that “Our arrows will block out the sun,” to which Leonidas’s general replied “Then we shall have our battle in the shade.” Battle was inevitable.

I won’t humiliate myself or bore you by describing those three long days at Thermopylae. Suffice to say that it was brutal and bloody, and that every single one of Sparta’s 300 died that day. Another 2,000 Greeks died along with the Spartans. Importantly for history’s sake, though, is the fact 20,000 Persians died that day as well. Persia was not defeated but, as reports of the battle filtered out, every single Greek city-state learned that the Persians could be defeated.

Even though the Persians continued their triumphant march forward, the Greek’s were roused by the heroism and sacrifice of the Spartans and their allies. Although the Persians moved forward, conquering Greek lands as they went, the Greeks abandoned submission and fatalism. Instead, looking to Thermopylae for inspiration, they fought back. They viewed themselves, not as future Persian slaves, but as free men fighting for their country. Eventually, the Greeks did defeat the Persian Empire, and went on to become a great empire themselves, laying the foundation for much of our western culture.

Even now, 2,500 years later, the Spartans’ brave stand at Thermopylae still has the power to inspire us. Victory wasn’t the point. The point was to fight and to educate Greeks about their merciless enemy and its overwhelming drive for power. Leonidas and his men may have died there, but their ghosts led the Greeks to eventual victory.

Which gets me back to Ted Cruz and his buddies in the Senate. They’re not stupid. They know that this filibuster will be futile. But they know two other things as well: Filibusters grab headlines, which gives them a golden opportunity to lift the cone of silence that the mainstream media places between Republicans and voters.

Under the current media regime, Republican arguments and statements get to the voters only if small fry Republicans get arrested, or say something “provocative” about gay marriage or abortion. Other than that, most voters would be hard pressed to know what conservatives politicians and thinkers are saying.

Imagine someone as intelligent and articulate as Ted Cruz – a man who has a knack for clearly stating complex principles – speaking directly to the voters about Obamacare, without the media acting as his “interpretor.” And remember, if he does filibuster, he’ll be speaking to voters who, for the most part, are already beginning to realize that, with Obamacare, they’ve been sold a bill of goods.

Absent a miracle, Cruz will lose on the filibuster. The Republican establishment will start bleating out “I told you so” on every “news” show they can find. And Obamacare will go forward.

But here’s what Cruz also knows: Obamacare will be a disaster. We know that for certain. Indeed, the best evidence you need is Congress’s frantic effort to ward off Obamacare in its own marbled halls. If that’s not enough, look at the diminution in choice, the price increases for the middle class, the lost jobs, the lost insurance coverage, and the downward adjustments in working hours.  We, the people, are going to be badly hurt by Obamacare.

Americans aren’t going to learn about the nasty stuff hiding in Obamacare until they experience it first hand.  What was an abstract political fight in Washington, D.C. will become a genuine problem in their day-to-day lives.  And that’s when Ted Cruz will pop back up again and say (nicely, of course), “Remember me? I tried to warn you and I tried to help. Trust me to have the courage and the wisdom to fix this. But this time, you have to stand with me to win the battle.”

The filibuster is Cruz’s Thermopylae. He knows that, whether he wins or loses, in the long term he will be the victor.  When it all falls apart, Ted Cruz will be seen and remembered for coming down on the side of sanity and freedom.

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  1. Mike Devx says

    Book, your summary says it all:
    The filibuster is Cruz’s Thermopylae. He knows that, whether he wins or loses, in the long term he will be the victor.  When it all falls apart, Ted Cruz will be seen and remembered for coming down on the side of sanity and freedom.

    Everyone knows the Senate Democrats have the votes.  And even if something goes catastrophically wrong for them – if the Senate Democrats somehow fall apart – they have a guaranteed Obama veto waiting, which would require 67 votes to override.
    But it is about lining up on the right side and the wrong side, and forcing the declaration of votes, to me.  It’s worth it, definitely.
    The Democrats and the mainstream media *might* play games with blames-manship on a potential government shutdown.  I think Republicans are in fine shape there, too, myself.  “We funded the government,” they can declare, and possibly win public opinion, there, too.  That’s a propaganda battle though, and with the media firmly in the Democrat camp, it won’t be easy. But that’s no reason to always concede the fight!
    If only the Republicans were better at propaganda battles…

  2. jj says

    There are some differences between the situations in which Cruz and Leonidas find/found themselves.  Leonidas was able to be pretty sure that everyone on his side was genuinely on his side, and unlikely to shove anything – knife, sword, spear – into his back.  Regrettably, Cruz has no such assurances.  The democrats will be the a**holes they always are, that’s to be expected.  Cruz is, one must suppose, ready for it.  Aren’t we all.  They’re not the problem, like cancer cells they’re simply being themselves.  The problem, the real problem, will be – already is – his splendid stable of nominal allies, who will not have his back, will not give him their support, and will shove whatever they can lay hands on into his back: the useless, worthless, witless, valueless, brainless republican party.  Which at this point is no more deserving of escaping the ash-heap of history than was the Russian communist party.
    We can guard ourselves against our enemies: we know them.  Cruz, I suppose, knows them too.  The problem, and what will ultimately torpedo him – and America, incidentally – will be his friends.  With friends like McCain, Graham, Collins, et al, one does not, to borrow a phrase, need enemies.

  3. Matt_SE says

    Exactly my analysis of the situation. It’s funny how many RINOs can’t see this coming.
    McConnell has already stabbed Cruz in the back by stating he won’t support the filibuster…Cornyn too. We’ll have to wait for the complete list of RINOs, but I imagine it will include quite a few.
    huh…I do believe McConnell’s up for re-election this year!

  4. debiesam says

    Thank you for this post. In some ways, Ted Cruz is the new Andrew Breitbart. A rabble-rouser, a challenger, somebody who knows how to get media attention and turn the system on its head. I admit I was confused by all the negative noise by the Republican establishment. Thanks to your brilliant analysis,  I have a profound appreciation for Ted Cruz and what he has been trying to do.  

  5. says

    There’s a far more accurate equivalent much closer to our times.
    Ted Cruz’s heroic, epic filibuster is the equivalent of Nikolai Lenin’s seizure of the Russian Revolution in 1917, destroying the six-month old democratic government, and turning Russia into a Soviet Communist slave state.
    Lenin showed that a six-month old democracy can easily be destroyed.  Ted Cruz and his fellow GOP Con-Loons in the House of Representatives are far outdoing Lenin.  They are showing that the World’s Oldest Democracy can easily be Destroyed when “Conservative” Lunatics are put in charge of the Asylum.

  6. says

    Democracy like Athens deserves to be destroyed. It was never as good as what people tried to make it out as.
    Those who think traditional values are inferior to their modern values, are in for an interesting awakening.

  7. says

    What most people think of as democracy, where 51% rules and decides things is, ends up as 1% deciding everything once you run through enough politicians and decades.
    Since majority of the 51% determines what the 51% thinks. A majority of a majority, after some time, becomes the 1%. And that’s DC and the Leftist alliance. Their 1% ruling class tells Americans what to do, and when they feel like it, they’ll tell people to “Stand down, let them die”, as they watch in entertainment like the old Roman gladiatorial fights.
    Since democracy inevitably devolves to a plutocracy or an oligarchy, it’s natural that communism and socialism is seen as superior.
    Obama has been bringing enough guns to fight american children that people don’t need to worry about Cruz destroying America. It’s not necessary.


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