Written by Ian Millhiser
On Wednesday morning, the National Review broke the news that tea party Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is considering a presidential run, a scoop that should surprise no one who’s paid attention to his short Senate career. As Jonathan Bernstein explains, Cruz has spent his few months in the Senate alienating his colleagues by constantly trying to distinguish himself as the more-conservative-than-thou alternative to “establishment” Republicans. Such behavior makes no sense if Cruz is interested in building the coalitions necessary to legislate, but it makes perfect sense if he has his eyes set on winning a tea-soaked GOP primary in 2016.
If Cruz runs, he would give voice to the conspiracy-minded, John Birch Society wing of the Republican Party that the National Review’s founder fought so hard to purge several decades ago. Cruz is the Glenn Beck of the United States Senate, promoting new conspiracy theories just as easily as Mr. Beck adds new names to his chalkboard. Here are five examples of such theories that Cruz actually believes in:
- George Soros leads a global conspiracy to abolish the game of golf. In a January 2012 article published on Cruz’s senate campaign website, the future senator argues that a twenty year-old non-binding United Nations resolution signed by 178 nations including the United States under President George H.W. Bush, is actually a nefarious plot to “abolish ‘unsustainable’ environments, including golf courses, grazing pastures, and paved roads.” Cruz attributes this plot to a common tea party boogieman — “[t]he originator of this grand scheme is George Soros, who candidly supports socialism and believes that global development must progress through eliminating national sovereignty and private property.”
- Communists infiltrated Harvard Law School. Almost three years ago, Cruz gave a speech to the tea party group Americans for Prosperity in which he claimed that revolutionary communists were a major presence on Harvard’s law faculty. According to Cruz, “There were fewer declared Republicans in the faculty when we were there than Communists! There was one Republican. But there were twelve who would say they were Marxists who believed in the Communists overthrowing the United States government.” Cruz’s claims came as a big surprise to Harvard Law Professor Charles Fried, a Republican who served as President Reagan’s solicitor general, who says that “I would be surprised if there were any members of the faculty who ‘believed in the Communists overthrowing the U.S. government.’”
- Islamic law threatens the United States. Echoing a common fear among very conservative politicians that Sharia law is somehow creeping into American life, Cruz told a senate candidate’s forum last year that “Sharia law is an enormous problem” in the United States. In reality, there are barely any examples of Islamic or Sharia law even being mentioned in American legal proceedings, and when it is mentioned it is typically because a contract, will or other document drafted by a private citizen invokes Sharia law, not because the court wishes to replace American law with something else.
- Obama wants the immigration bill to fail so he can campaign on it in 2016. Cruz claims that “the reason that the White House is insisting on a path to citizenship” in the immigration bill making its way through Congress “is because the White House knows that insisting on that is very likely to scuttle the bill” giving Obama an issue to campaign on in 2014 and 2016. In reality, a path to citizenship was a key prong of the immigration bill President Bush supported in 2007. It’s also a major prong of the Gang of Eight bill — a gang which includes Republican Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ). So if the path to citizenship is actually an Obama plot to give himself a campaign issue, Obama has some unexpected co-conspirators in this scheme.
- George W. Bush led an assault on Texas’ “sovereignty.” Cruz’s first campaign ad touted his victory in a Supreme Court case permitting the state of Texas to execute a Mexican national, despite the fact that Texas violated America’s treaty obligations by not permitting this Mexican citizen “to request assistance from the consul of his own state.” President Bush objected to Texas’s effort to flout a treaty that even North Korea had honored when it detained two American journalists for five months in 2009. Cruz dismissed Bush’s objections as an intrusion on “the sovereignty of the States.”
If elected to the White House, Cruz is unlikely to step back from his penchant for Glenn Beck-style conspiracies. In an interview with Fox News Sunday just a few days after he became a senator, Cruz claimed that “I don’t think what Washington needs is more compromise, I think what Washington needs is more common sense and more principle.”
This post was originally published by ThinkProgress.