Ted Cruz, with his devotion to the Constitution’s promise of individual liberty based upon inherent rights, is the antithesis of Orwell’s Big Brother. Nevertheless, there is another Big Brother analogy that comes to mind when I think of Ted Cruz and that may explain his plan to become the Republican candidate for president.
It all begins with my dear friend Don Quixote, who was a big fan of those reality TV shows in which 12 or so people compete in a nicely Darwinian way to be the last person standing at season’s end. His particular favorite was Big Brother, which Wikipedia explains as follows:
The premise of the show is that there is a group of people, dubbed as “housemates” or “houseguests”, living together in a specially constructed large house. During their time in the house they are isolated from the outside world and are not commonly aware of outside event or have access to any electronic devices. Contestants are continuously monitored by in-house television cameras as well as personal audio microphones during their entire stay. Each season lasts for about three months, with at least ten contestants entering the house. To win the final cash prize, a contestant must survive periodic (usually weekly) evictions and be the last housemate or houseguest remaining in the compound by the series’ conclusion.
I never watched the show myself, but I loved hearing Don Quixote explain the strategies the various contestants were using in order to win. One thing that I remember was that the winner was never the early front-runner, or even the mid-season front-runner. Instead, the winner was the gray man, the one who kept a low profile while everyone else was gunning for that week’s front-runner. Then, as the field thinned out, the ultimate winner was the one who had been carefully making alliances and playing his allies off against each other.
I keep thinking of that strategy when I see Ted Cruz. He was the first to declare his candidacy (wasn’t he?), and he’s almost certainly the brightest of the bunch. He’s also completely committed to a strict conservative ideology, as well as being anything but a shrinking violet. Nevertheless, he seems to be going out of his way not to make a splash. He’s kept out of Trump’s line of fire, as well as the missiles that the other candidates and the media are lobbing at Trump, and has been invisible when it comes to challenging either Fiorina or Rubio, both of whom are already being touted as the new conservative darlings to replace Trump’s front-runner status.
Some people are wondering if Cruz is already past his sell-by date or if he’s just not ready to play with the big boys. I however am wondering if we’re witnessing a deliberate strategy by which Cruz deliberately sidelines himself waiting for the fruit that ripened to early to drop from the tree.
The fact is that, even as Cruz is doing nothing to insert himself in the headlines, he’s softly, softly going around gathering constituents. He won rave reviews at the Values Voters Summit, but hasn’t been fundraising off of that. Instead, the last email I received from his campaign simply reminded his followers that, if they don’t want him to vanish as Scott Walker did, they need to help fund him some more.
The other thing Cruz did, again with very little fanfare, was to appear on Stephen Colbert’s gig at David Letterman’s old desk. Two things happened there that I think deserve to be noted. First, when Colbert’s reliably Leftist audience started booing Cruz after Colbert asked him about gay marriage, Colbert silenced the audience: “However you feel, he is my guest. So please don’t boo him.” Colbert deserves kudos for that. I don’t like the man’s politics or his humor, but he did precisely the right thing at that moment.
While the media loved the fact that the audience booed Cruz, with every outlet seeming to hone in on that fact, few media outlets reported what happened a minute or two later. After Cruz got the chance to state his principles regarding the gay marriage question, he got a sturdy round of applause from that same audience (starting at 2:58):
Cruz: People are fed up. What they want is jobs and economic growth. And, you know, you mentioned before, you know, you said “Cruz, you’re a very conservative guy.” Listen, what I am fighting for are simple principles: Live within our means; stop bankrupting our kids and grand kids, follow the Constitution.
Colbert: And no gay marriage. And no gay marriage. [Scattered cheers.]
Cruz: Well, no actually. Let’s be precise. Under the Constitution, marriage is a question for the states. If you want to change the marriage law —
Colbert: It doesn’t mention marriage in the Constitution.
Cruz: We have had a country for over 200 years —
[Audience interrupts to cheer Colbert.]
Colbert: You may be right, you may be right but it doesn’t mention marriage in the Constitution. You believe that marriage —
Cruz: And that’s exactly why it’s a question for the states because the 10th Amendment says, if it doesn’t mention, it’s a question for the states. That’s in the Bill of Rights. Everything that is not mentioned is left to the states. So if you want to change the marriage laws —
Colbert: I’m asking what you want.
Cruz: I believe in democracy. I believe in democracy and I don’t think we should. . . . [Cut off by booing.]
Colbert: No, no, guys, guys. However you feel, he’s my guest, so please don’t boo him.
Cruz: I don’t think we should entrust governing our society to five unelected lawyers in Washington. Why would you possibly hand over the rights of 320 million Americans to five lawyers in Washington to say “We’re going to decide the rules that govern you.” If you want to win an issue, go to the ballot box and win at the ballot box. That’s the way the Constitution was designed.
[At which point the CBS video clip you see above ended before anyone can hear the sturdy round of applause that Cruz received for his defense of constitutional government.]
Cruz is right on the money there. What he’s saying is, “Yes, I’m conservative but, even if you disagree with my principles on such things as gay marriage, you don’t need to fear my presidency. I follow the Constitution and will return power to the people, where it belongs.”
This is a very appealing, all-American message and one that Cruz is carefully and quietly making in multiple speaking venues.
My guess is that Cruz is playing the Big Brother strategy: He’s letting the current favorites duke it out amongst themselves with a hostile media egging them on, all the while marshaling his ground game by quietly spreading his message and lining up allies. Since I like Cruz’s message — let the Constitution be our guide — I hope I’m right.