Over the last several months I, and many others, have worked to bring conservatives together. Those who supported the presidential bids of Marco Rubio, of John Kasich, of Ted Cruz, and of many others, have coalesced into a movement of individuals who cannot conscience supporting the Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump. This article is written to discuss a trend I am seeing across the dozens of online communities I belong to, made up, ostensibly, of those concerned with working to save (or resurrect, depending on one’s perspective) American conservatism. This trend is what I will call “the leaderless cult.”
I’m calling this a cult, because those who are its most vocal proponents are uniquely singular in their vision, riotously antagonistic to those who disagree with them, and apparently blind to the damage their ‘pet project’ could have to the conservative cause that we are all a part of. I’m calling it ‘leaderless’ because the one whose cause they are championing is not courting, and likely could be damaged by, their efforts. Who is the centerpiece of this group’s rabid desire? Who is the one that has been elevated so highly in their minds that they cannot see clearly for their red-hot fury toward all who would oppose him? This honorable man is Ted Cruz.
At this point, you are likely experiencing one of several reactions. 1) You may be one of these proselytes who is now salivating with glee that I mentioned the senator’s name, and eagerly reading to see which of hie admirable qualities I intend to highlight. Though I think rather highly of senator Cruz, you’ll likely be disappointed. 2) You may have now realized that you are one of those I am writing about, but that I am not one of you, and are now positing arguments to let me know just how wrong I am for not supporting your write-in campaign for a candidate who is no longer running for president. I hope you’ll continue to read. This article is mostly for you. 3) You may be wondering why in the world someone is writing an article about Cruz supporters post-RNC Convention. You’re asking, “Is Cruz even a thing anymore? I thought he was focusing on the Senate.” You’ll probably find resonance with much of what I am saying here.
THE GUYS POURING GASOLINE ON THE FIRE
#1 Michael Harrington and the Castle attackers
The first thing I will address here is a tendency of some of these Hyper-Cruzers, as I’ll call them, to attack Darrell Castle, perhaps the most conservative candidate still in the 2016 race. For those unfamiliar with Mr. Castle, he is an attorney, and candidate for the
Constitution Party (www.constitutionparty.com and www.castle2016.com) . The crux of the Hyper-Cruzers’ argument is that Mr. Castle’s comments regarding concerns about Ted Cruz’s qualifications for the presidency (refered to as the ‘birther’ controversy) make Castle an unfit candidate. One such Hyper-Cruzer, Michel Harrington, and others have spilt much (digital) ink on this issue. Indeed, perusing the Facebook groups, Harrington belongs to, and the articles he has written, it is easy to think that discrediting Castle for his unforgivable sin of questioning Cruz is his sole purpose in life.
The gist of their argument is that Darrell Castle is unfit to be president because, in the early months of Cruz’s campaign, Castle questioned the senator’s status as a natural-born citizen, as defined by the Constitution as a qualification for POTUS. While it is not the point of this article, and this article IS NOT AN ENDORSEMENT OF ANY POLITICAL CANDIDATE, let me set the record straight about Castle’s position. In March of 2015, in an episode of his podcast, The Castle Report, Castle questioned whether Cruz met the constitutional requirements for a natural-born citizen as the founders would have understood it. Here is the transcript from that podcast, as cited in Harrington’s article at RedState.com (I’ve removed Harrington’s commentary so that you can read the transcript uninterrupted:
—————————- Transcript ———————-
Hello this is Darrel Castle with today’s podcast. Today is Wednesday 25th Mar 2015 and on today’s podcast we are going to discuss Senator Ted Cruz and his announced candidacy for the Republican nomination for the presidency of the United States in 2016.
Sen Cruz first tweeted his announcement at midnight Sunday night. Then he spoke at Liberty University on Monday morning where he made his announcement formal.
He was born in Calgary Alberta Canada in 1970 to a Cuban immigrant father and an American Citizen mother. His supporters say “natural born citizen is person who was born a citizen and not one who became a citizen through the naturalization process. Special provisions have been made from time to time for children of citizens born to parents traveling abroad or working abroad as Sen Cruz’s parents were.
The Constitution in Article Two, Section One, Paragraph 5 says quote “no person except a Natural Born Citizen or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of the Constitution shall be eligible to the office of president. Neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have obtained the age of 35 years and been 14 years a resident within the United States.” end quote.
His parents worked in the oil business in Canada his father was born in Cuba and fought with Fidel Castro against Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. He was 14 years old during the Cuban Revolution. And he said he did not realize Castro was a Communist and he didn’t realize what Castro planned to do in Cuba. His father then fled from Cuba at age 18 and he landed in Texas.
His mother was born in Wilmington, DL in a family of Irish and Italian decent.
Senator Cruz was born in 1970. His parents returned to Houston in 1974. So he was 4 years old when he first came to the United States. He was Valedictorian of 2nd Baptist High School and graduated Cum Laude from Princeton University with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from 1995 in Harvard Law School and was primary editor of the Harvard Law Review and a founding editor of Harvard Latino Law Review.
He served as associate deputy attorney general of the United States and was domestic policy advisor to president George W. Bush. He was solicitor general of Texas from 2003-2008. He was adjunct professor of law at the University of Texas Law School and taught Supreme Court litigation. In 2012 he was elected to the United States Senate.
Well let’s stop for a minute. This all sound like Deja’ vu doesn’t it. Let’s see now.
Foreign Born, Harvard Law School, Harvard Law School Editor, Law School Professor, Junior senator and 1st term and now candidate for president. Yes indeed that sounds familiar.
Well Senator Cruz is obviously trying to unite conservative voters especially the religious ones. Those voters who want to deny the Republican Party establishment another nomination. He offers himself as an uncompromising campion for evangelical Christian Voters by officially announcing at Liberty University. He tied his candidacy to conservative Christian Values and signaled his outreach to evangelicals.
His policy positions are pretty well known but they are right there on his campaign website for anyone to see TedCruz.org
His positions are:
#1 Repeal Obamacare he led the fight to defund it and he filibustered it for 21 consecutive hours but now that his wife Heidi lost her coverage at her old firm Goldman Sachs he says he will enroll in Obamacare so go figure folks.
#2 end subsidizing corporations including the export import bank
#3 he is opposed to Ethanol subsides
#4 he is opposed to Federal Regulation of the Internet
#5 opposed to increasing debt limit
#6 opposed to partial birth abortion and he is opposed to state funding of abortion.
#7 he supports the right of states to define marriage
#8 he opposes Obama’s Iran deal
#9 he opposes executive amnesty
#10 he supports secure borders
#11 he supports the 2nd Amendment and the right to keep and bare arms
#12 he favors ending the IRS and passing a flat tax.
This is a proposal that a Washington Post writer said yesterday that was so silly she didn’t think he could possibly be serious about it. Well according to the Washington Post very few of his fellow senators actually like Senator Cruz.
Most don’t want his reputation of antagonism to the establishment, to the leadership. They don’t want that to rub off on them. He wants to be the champion and leader of the Tea Party which never has had a real leader. He would like to unite all those anti-establishment republicans whose voices never seem to be heard.
Jeb Bush on the other hand openly rejects those values openly courts and represents the moneyed business interest of the Republican Party he is Mr. Establishment.
There will be many contenders on the right in the caucuses and primaries. Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Rick Perry among many others.
Everybody has what he believes to be a base ideological position And everybody hopes to expand and appeal to others outside that base. But finally folks can Senator Cruz do that? Can he expand his base support? And encompass enough republican voters?
He has all the establishment credentials but he doesn’t sound establishment.
Time will tell folks. At least that’s the way I see it. Until next time this is Darryl Castle.
————————— End Transcript ——————–
PROBLEMS WITH THE ARGUMENT
This stance, which Hyper-Cruzers refer to as being a “birther,” is the sole argument of the attacks from Harrington and those like him. The difficulty with this is two-fold.
First, it fails to take into consideration Castle’s current position on the issue, how his position changes, and the stance of the Constitution party itself. While Castle had questions about Cruz’s status and the applicability of the constitutional understanding of being natural-born, he no longer has these questions. Despite sone opinions on state-level party websites, the national party itself does not take any stance on the issue at all. How do I know? I know because I have had multiple conversations with Mr. Castle, as well as with the Constitution Party’s national chairman, Frank Fluckiger, on this very issue. Castle takes no stance whatsoever on Ted Cruz’s status, a change attributed largely to counsel from his extremely constitutionally-literate running mate Scott Bradley. Mr. Fluckiger told me, “Since the founding of this nation, there have been a number of changes made that define what a natural born citizen is. As a result of those changes, even the best of the constitutional scholars would be challenged to take a clear stand on that issue. In view of this for Darrell to take a no opinion stand on the issue is not unreasonable.” As far as an oft-cited tweet by the party’s communications director Karen Murray regarding the reason a Cruz campaign on the Constitution Party ticket would be an impossibility, Fluckiger sought to set straight her “careless tweet:”
The tweet by Karen was most unfortunate, but that is not the real reason Ted Cruz could not be our candidate. Here are a number of reasons 1) I believe a number of state (11 including Utah) have sore loser laws which would prevent the party from putting Cruz on our ballot. 2) The national convention has already been held, our candidates selected and there are no provisions in our by laws that would let us put another candidate in place of our current candidates. 3) It is most unlikely that Cruz would even consider running on our ticket since we still do not have enough states to reach the critical level of 270 electoral votes. However we are making good progress toward that end.
Second, the argument takes Castle’s supposed opinion on one non-issue and amplifies its importance to eclipse every other position the candidate holds, and renders a “not-qualified” verdict based on this alone. Not only is this poor reporting in light of the facts above, but it is poor politics, and borders on character assassination. It is poor politics because it’s use by the Hyper-Cruzers serves to alienate many of those in whom they might other find ready allies in the cause of conservatism. It is also poor politics because it singles out Castle (a conservative still running for president) as a Cruz antagonist, while forgetting that may other conservatives (including Rubio and Kasich) had their own criticisms of Cruz. These Hyper-Cruzers, however, aim their barbs in one direction only, making one question their real motivation.
#2 The ‘write-in Ted’ folks
This second group of Hyper-Cruzers are thoroughly convinced that Ted Cruz is the bet thing that could possibly happen to America, and are determined to get him elected (with or without his help) by staging a write-in campaign. Never mind the fact that it has been demonstrated time-and-again that such a campaign cannot be successful and that it can certainly hurt down-ballot conservatives by causing entire ballots to be thrown out. These acolytes were so convinced of the right-ness of their guy that, unlike so many others, they cannot let go. Even now that he has suspended his campaign, they cannot see clearly to separate the cause of conservatism from the cause of Ted Cruz. In their minds he is, simply, the savior of conservatism. This has created a “you’re either for him, or against us” mentality that erects unnecessary barriers to cooperation with conservatives who do not share their Cruz-or-bust mentality.
These “write-in Ted” folks really need to ask themselves what their goal is. Is it to make a statement that they feel Cruz should have gotten the nomination, even if it means having their entire ballot thrown out and, perhaps, hurting Cruz himself in the long run? Or are they really so drenched in the Cruz-or-bust kool-aid that they really think they can overcome the laws of the US elections process by their sheer willpower? Anyone in this camp really ought to take the time to read Bob Bennett’s excellent article at RedState.com and ask themselves what they are really trying to accomplish. Even Michael Harrington, for all his rhetoric, recognizes this, though he proceeds to advocate for the equally useless writing-in of another GOP candidate. If you are considering writing in a candidate, Cruz or otherwise, be sure to research your state’s laws to make sure you are not invalidating your ballot.
A PROPOSAL FOR COOPERATIVE CONSERVATISM
I’m writing this article to admonish Cruz conservatives to work with other conservative to make a difference. I’m not asking you to change your opinion on the merits of Cruz’s former candidacy. I’m not asking you not to vote your conscience. In fact, I was, and am, a huge supporter of the #NeverTrump and #VoteYourConscience movements that were put forth by Kendall Unruh and others. I believe that liberty of conscience is a fundamental bulwark of American liberty, and I have written on thatextensively, including here amd here. What I am asking is that you vote with purpose. I am asking that you, as conscientious conservatives, work to make a difference, rather than simply to make a point. I am asking that conservatives stop poking each other in the eye over Ted Cruz, and unite for the causes of Liberty, of small government, and of principled, constitutional conservatism.
It has often been said of the Christian church that we are the only army in the world that shoots it’s own wounded. As conservatives, let’s not make that mistake. May the Cruzers and Hyper-Cruzers put away their swords when dealing with fellow conservatives, and turn them in a productive direction, namely, fighting the tidal-wave of progressivism that is sweeping our country for our sake and that of our children.
Among those working toward this end are two interconnected groups that I have the pleasure of being a part of. The first is RelcaimDC, a non-partisan coalition of conservatives who have banded together to lead a mass exodus from what we view
as a corrupt, ineffective GOP which has failed to stand for conservative values for year and who, this last election cycle, bullied and cajoled to help put a demagogue at the head of their ticket who does not even come close to standing for the kind of principled conservatism that we believe is critical to our nation. As the first step of our activism, we are leading the #GOPExodus movement where, on Sept 15, thousands are staging a coordinated walk-out from the GOP, going to their local election bureaus and changing their affiliation in as public a way as their consciences will allow. You can find out more about Reclaim DC at our Facebook page, or at www.reclaimdc.com .
The second group, which flows out of the Reclaim DC / #GOPExodus movement is the National Conservative Council. A non-partisan group, the council has been set up by conservative activists around the country to educate conservatives who have left the GOP as we explore the next steps – joining another party as a conservative voting block, starting a new party, etc. I encourage you to joint our weekly nationwide conference calls to hear from candidates and part officials, follow that coordination of the #GOPExodus, and stay abreast of the issues facing disaffected conservatives as we work TOGETHER to grow the cause of conservatism in this great country.