The modern Republican Party has utterly abandoned any pretense at offering legitimate policy proposals or coherent ideological platforms more sophisticated than “I’ll make it great again!” Instead, they choose to play the lowbrow game of petty nationalism and racial scapegoating, believing that the fears of white Christian men will be enough to lift them to office.
But toying so cavalierly with such strong emotions can quickly grow beyond the control of the party, and it is the height of delicious irony to see a Republican candidate ensnared by his party’s own race-baiting smear campaigns.
Donald Trump was the leading perpetrator of the absurd “birther” campaign that questioned whether President Obama was born in America and was eligible to be president, with all the barely disguised racism that such an accusation entails. The vast majority of Republican politicians have gone along with perpetuating that narrative in the face of decency and easily confirmed facts.
As the primary race heats up, Trump has thrown a rival to the birther wolves that he roused. The religious extremist and obstructionist Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is the newest target of right-wing inquisition, fed to the auto da fe of birtherism, burned by the flames of rabid nativism and smeared with the muck of ignorance that Cruz himself helped churn. If Ted Cruz has ever held any consistent political position, it is his enthralled support everything that Donald Trump says or does – and now it’s come back to haunt him.
Trump started this latest chapter in the usual Trumpian way – saying that something exists to the mainstream media, which then spins itself into a frenzy bringing his self-fulfilling prophecy to life. In this case, Trump told conservative propagandist Joe Scarborough that:
I’d hate to see something like that get in his way. But a lot of people are talking about it and I know that even some states are looking at it very strongly, the fact that he was born in Canada and he has had a double passport…Well, I mean, honestly I hope it’s not the case. I hope that’s not going to be a problem for him, but I’ve been hearing a lot about it, and you’ve been hearing, and I guess everybody’s talking about it now that he’s doing better, and I think that they are looking at it.
Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother; while Cruz represents a direct threat to our national security and is a dangerous religious fanatic, such petty attacks should be beneath participants in the world’s most famous democracy. After his parents’ names were found on a Canadian voter roll, Cruz was so shaken that he has actually released his mother’s birth certificate, which proved that she was born in Delaware. Of course, his release was not met with the amount of suspicion and disbelief that President Obama’s certificate provoked, but the issue is still unresolved; since the courts have never needed to rule on the issue of presidential candidates who were born outside the U.S, he is left vulnerable to a potential lawsuit that could take years to process.
But it is fitting karma for a shameless hypocrite and one of our nation’s most despicable politicians, who has done nothing with his Congressional career but promote his personal agenda and ambitions, inspiring the virulent hatred of both his fellow Republicans and the Democrats across the aisle. He has done nothing but obstruct the legislative agenda of Congress, pioneering the “brinkmanship” politics that provoked an expensive government shutdown and routinely threatened to do so again.
He is a misogynist liar who spearheaded the smear campaign against Planned Parenthood, a vile man who would rather see American women pregnant and barefoot than have control over their own bodies, a man who fights for the “religious freedom” of Christians to discriminate against gays but then works to deny religious freedom to any religion that is not his particular version of Wahhabi Christianity. A man who speaks of his devotion to “family values” but voted to deny paid family leave to workers. He heartlessly speaks openly of “carpet-bombing” the Middle East until the “sand glows” regardless of the civilian casualties that it would surely cause while refusing to open our borders to the fleeing refugees that such a cruel strategy would create – even though his father was a refugee.
Ted Cruz has a lot to answer for; this latest development is very amusing, but does not nearly make up for the harm that he has done and proposes doing to our nation. Even the White House was rather gleeful at the dissection of Cruz’s citizenship, saying that it would be “very ironic” if Republicans chose Cruz as the nominee after all the ridiculous controversy about President Obama, noting that Cruz is “somebody who actually wasn’t born in the United States and only 18 months ago renounced his Canadian citizenship.” Take heed, Mr. Cruz; your hypocrisy was bound to catch up to you someday. This is only the tip of the iceberg.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.