Rafael Cruz’s unfortunate outbursts highlights one of the biggest problems with the modern Republican Party.
Recently videos have surfaced that show Rafael Cruz, father of the firebrand Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, saying some pretty offensive stuff to local Tea Party groups in Texas. According to David Corn at The Nation magazine Rafael recently told a tea party organization in Hood County Texas that:
The United States is a “Christian nation.” The septuagenarian businessman turned evangelical pastor did not choose to use the more inclusive formulation “Judeo-Christian nation.” Insisting that the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution “were signed on the knees of the framers” and were a “divine revelation from God,” he went on to say, “yet our president has the gall to tell us that this is not a Christian nation…The United States of America was formed to honor the word of God.”
Unfortunately, this is nothing new for Rafael. Back in 2012 he was recorded speaking at the North Texas Tea Party organization, where he was speaking at his son Ted’s behest , and things were even worse. According to David Corn he, “called President Barack Obama an “outright Marxist” who “seeks to destroy all concept of God,” and he urged the crowd to send Obama “back to Kenya.””
Rafael’s son Ted is clearly the more important political figure in the Cruz family and to be fair Ted, for all his bluster on other issues, he hasn’t said anything nearly this kooky. Unfortunately for Ted though, his father’s unfortunate outbursts have illustrated one of the biggest problems with the Republican Party right now.
Simply put the GOP is not very good at silencing extremist voices from inside its ranks. All political parties and movements have to deal with kooks and cranks to some degree, the Democrats have the Lyndon LaRouche people and the “9/11 truthers” to name a few. But one thing that a political party should be able to do is moderate its more extreme factions, especially when those factions are damaging the overall group interests of the political party as a whole. Unfortunately with the GOP we see a total inability to silence those extremist voices.
In fact it’s even worse than that. Not only are Republican leaders unable to silence the kooks and crazies inside their party, they are too afraid of being labeled a RINO (Republican in name only) to stand up to them at all. One of the most remarkable things we saw during the shutdown in October was that the vast majority of Republicans in the House of Representatives didn’t want a shutdown. Only a minority of the GOP caucus, between 30 and 80 members depending on who was doing the reporting, actually wanted to shut the government down to try and get concessions from President Obama. The rest of the GOP caucus thought this was foolish, but since they were unwilling to allow any daylight between themselves and the Michele Bachmann’s of the world they had to go along with the shutdown.
So rather than seeing a brief fight inside the Republican caucus in Congress the nation was forced to endure a long and pointless shutdown all because the majority of Republicans wouldn’t allow their to be any perception of division inside their own ranks. The result was a huge drop in GOP popularity and a major political victory for President Obama.
Fixing the Republican Party is no easy task, but telling the Rafael Cruzes of the world to sit down and be quite is a necessary first step. Unfortunately no one in the GOP seems willing to do that right now, least of all his son Ted.
Photo by David J. Phillip/AP