On Wednesday, February 17, Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas was spotted en route to a family vacation to Cancún, Mexico, while millions of his constituents were stuck at home suffering from power outages and extreme cold in the face of a “once-in-a-lifetime” weather event that overwhelmed the Lone Star State. Public outcry to Cruz’s actions was swift and decisively critical, and as a result of the backlash the Senator was quick to schedule a return trip for the following day.
While Cruz’s condemnation has been nigh universal, the Senator’s faux pas has not been without apologists. Notable among them is Dinesh D’Souza, convicted felon and conservative provocateur.
“What could [Cruz] do if he were here in Texas?” D’Souza tweeted, “If he’s in Cancun, that means he’s not using up valuable resources of energy, food and water that can now be used by someone else. This is probably the best thing he could do for the state right now.”
Though based in awfully faulty premises, I do actually agree with D’Souza’s conclusion. The best thing Ted Cruz can do for Texas, and all of America, is if he abandoned it—its people and its politics—forever. He does not serve them well.
While only elected by just one state, Cruz works in a federal office, legislating policy that can affect the day-to-day of all Americans in the other forty-nine. That’s a lot of people to appease, and its fairly demonstrable just how out-of-touch the Senator is with the public. One key issue where Ted stands in stark contrast to the majority is the legalization of marijuana.
A recent Gallup poll indicates as many as 68 percent of Americans are in support of the measure, but Cruz opposes any national law authorizing the free use of cannabis, and instead believes that the issue should be decided on a state-by-state basis. Such a process is piecemeal and patchwork, and in deferring any federal responsibility in the face of progress, Cruz stands against reforming policy that has lead to millions of needless arrests, and unfairly targets Black Americans.
So, in this one instance, Cruz is the voice of the minority— but the list goes on. Cruz opposes same-sex marriage, while two in three of his fellow Americans are in support of it. He’s against Planned Parenthood, and even threatened a government shut-down unless federal funding was divested from the organization. A year later, a whopping three-quarters of Americans were polled to be in favor of the nonprofit, not exactly sharing in the Senator’s sentiments.
And just last month, while a majority of Americans accepted the results of the 2020 presidential election as honest, Cruz participated in a campaign of political theatre that sought to delegitimize its outcome. In doing so, he validated a conspiracist mob of Trump loyalists who stormed the Capitol in an effort to quash a democracy that works not just for Texans, but for all citizens of these United States.
Looking back on a record like this, it might be fair to say that Cruz does not have all of America’s best interests in mind, and while he has faced threats of expulsion from the Senate for his role in the January 6th riots, it is unlikely that the necessary two-thirds majority vote can be secured for such reprimand to come to fruition, due to the chamber’s current partisan make-up.
But while Cruz may in name claim to work for all Americans, the final decision of whether or not he will remain employed is not called on a national level. Therefore, should we want that Cruz be ousted from office, we must depend on the citizens of Texas to vote him out come November 5th, 2024.
I know that is a long way’s away, but to any Texan readers I might have I implore you to hold fast. In your time of need, while others used their influence to help you, Ted Cruz abandoned you. Remember that fact, and should you forget any of his other follies in what will be his twelve years in office come that fateful election day, allow me to remind you where Cruz stands on the issues:
A staggering 13.6 percent of Texans live in poverty, three points higher than the national average. One clear way to cut this sordid statistic would be an increase in wages, where in Texas workers are still paid the paltry federal minimum of $7.25/hr. Cruz is opposed to this, and as such proves an obstacle to the prosperity of nearly 4 million Texans.
According to other government data, some 18.6 percent of Texans remained uninsured for healthcare as of 2019. That’s well over 5 million people, and 1.5 million under this gap would be eligible for some form of coverage if the state opted for Medicaid expansions, which Cruz stands against. While not a final authority on the matter, Cruz, in his rhetoric, contributes to a system that disregards the needs of his own constituents.
Cruz also seeks an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which through a regular renewal process protects 124,300 Texas residents from deportation. Polled in 2018, 60 percent of Texans said they would continue the program. That is a three-fifths majority opinion that the Senator simply outright rejects.
And it’s not just Texan livelihoods that Cruz ignores. He in fact endangers the very lives of Texans. The Senator has an anti-environmental 3% lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters, and his super PAC has disclosed $15 million in contributions from fracking tycoons, who profit from ventures in the West Texas Permian Basin region.
Fracking operations in this region were reported to be emitting harmful and illegal amounts of sulfur dioxide back in 2019, a chemical linked to asthma and heart attacks. Living in the Permian Basin are another nearly 5 million Texans whose concerns (namely, their health), that Mr. Cruz has gone and forsaken.
For his latest gaffe, Cruz has already apologized, calling his decision to leave for Mexico “obviously a mistake,” and to his credit, he does seem sincere enough. But that he should go ahead and do this thing in the first place demonstrates both a thoughtlessness and aversion to responsibility unsuitable for a person in his position.
To all Texans, my fellow Americans, we can’t risk having a Ted Cruz in the Senate any longer. It could make the difference for millions of lives.