You know you are not a member of the Republican establishment when Karl Rove tells you to “never darken the door of the White House again.” That happened to me in 2002, and that’s when I knew I had chosen the right side on the immigration issue.
Things have changed in 2016; the establishment is under siege. But who is really anti-establishment and who is faking it?
I guess there are different ways to define the establishment and “anti-establishment” and different ways to measure a man’s courage in fighting the establishment. Campaign promises are cheap, so let’s ask, who has demonstrated that courage through action?
Surely one good test would be the willingness to take risks by openly criticizing the power structure from the inside, not the outside. It’s easy to throw stones at windows when don’t have to live there.
Some candidates are Johnny-come-latelys to taking on the establishment. Some candidates adopt the mantle of outsider when it is popular, despite a lifetime of cozying up to power elites. Only a tiny handful of political leaders actually have a record of fighting the establishment and political correctness, not just talking about it when it becomes popular.
One of those rare, courageous souls is Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), a man who has taken risks and challenged established institutions when the issue was a matter of principle; conservative principles. But let’s move beyond generalities. Let’s consider three examples of Ted Cruz challenging the status quo. To me, such examples illustrate that Cruz has been willing to go against the establishment his entire career, not just for six months after deciding to run for president.
- Ted Cruz went on the floor of the United States Senate and called his party’s leader a liar – not to make a headline, but because it was true and someone needed to say it.
- He paid a price for “speaking truth to power,” because men in power will retaliate when their lies are exposed. Accepting the retaliation is part of the price to be paid when you offend powerful people.
- But Cruz probably did not anticipate that another “outsider” would criticize the act because he made some enemies by challenging his party’s leadership—the same leadership the conservative movement has been criticizing for their habitual accommodations to Obama.
Conservatives looking at presidential candidates have to ask what kind of leader they want sitting in the White House.
Could it be that sometimes, when your country is in danger, when the Constitution is being trashed, when deals are being struck with Obama and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that break solemn promises, could it be that in such times telling the truth is more important than winning a popularity contest in a den of thieves?
A second example is Cruz’s impressive record in Texas as the state’s solicitor general before he ran for the Senate. He took on powerful leftist organizations on gun control and election law, and took important cases all the way to the US Supreme Court — and won, nine times. He was the author of the amicus brief signed by 24 state attorneys general that led to victory in the historic 2nd Amendment case, District of Columbia v. Heller.
Those cases were not law review articles, New York Times op-eds, Charlie Rose interviews, or political speeches. They were hard-fought court cases against powerful establishment forces – and they changed the law and protected personal rights.
Finally, let’s look at Cruz’s record on immigration enforcement, the issue most voters consider the single most important of the 2016 election. If voters’ anger is the hallmark if the 2016 campaign, nothing has generated that anger as much as the establishment’s decade-long duplicity on immigration.
Avoiding a repeat of past treachery on immigration means electing a president who will keep his promises, not “work out a deal” that perpetuates our open borders fiasco. So, it is fair to ask, can we trust Ted Cruz to challenge the Republican establishment’s love affair with massive immigration?
Some candidates make loud, colorful promises to secure our borders. Ted Cruz has a record of actually fighting for secure borders.
- In 2013, Cruz fought in the Senate trenches to defeat the establishment’s grandiose “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill. He offered strong amendments that exposed the true character of the amnesty bill.
- The Senate conservative leader of that battle, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), credits Ted Cruz as being his strong right arm in the fight. Their arguments were so sound and their fight so successful that a majority of Republican senators ended up voting against the amnesty bill and it died in the House.
- Did that battle win him friends among the Republican Party leadership? No. Did making enemies among party leadership stop him from doing the right thing? No.
It is easy to attack the establishment from the outside; that always gets applause and cheers, even when the “outsider” has a lifelong record of enjoying the benefits of insider status.
It takes real courage and conviction to attack the establishment from within and makes waves as big as a tsunami. Ted Cruz has done that – consistently, and successfully, on immigration and other issues like Obamacare, voting rights, and the 2nd Amendment.
That’s why the establishment fears Ted Cruz: He’s the real deal.
Tom Tancredo is the founder of the Rocky Mountain Foundation and founder and co-chairman of Team America PAC.
Tom represented Colorado’s sixth congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 1999 to 2009, and he is a former presidential candidate.
He is the author of In Mortal Danger: The Battle for America’s Border and Security.