Ever since 1988, Republican candidates for all offices, particularly those running for President, have tried to channel Ronald Reagan. The conservative icon is the shining example of how a proper right-wing perspective has the power to make the country prosper domestically and make it respected around the world. In three decades, no candidate has come as close to truly picking up the Reagan mantle and bringing his ideals back to the White House as Ted Cruz.
As The Atlantic points out, the sentiment from voters is very similar to what was happening in 1979 and 1980. The Judeo-Christian right had been dealt several losses through the previous decade and a half, prompting them to coalesce in a way that had never been seen before. It was the start of the religious right movement that had unofficially vowed to not endorse a candidate but rather to endorse an agenda to promote for all politicians in office. Reagan blindsided them with a declaration he made in Dallas in front of 15,000 evangelicals.
“I know you can’t endorse me. But I want you to know that I endorse you.”
This was enough to make him their choice even after they decided not to choose. It also marked the last time that Christian and Jewish conservative leaders got behind a single candidate in full. Today, Ted Cruz is quickly becoming the second such candidate.
Though it’s similar, it’s not a true parallel. The circumstances behind the endorsements are completely different, but the reasons are the same. Most conservative and many moderate Republicans and Independence are sick of the unabashed left-wing ideologies spreading throughout the country. It isn’t just the obvious challenges with gay marriage, immigration, and national security. The general trend towards political correctness creates issues that concern people of all political ideologies as it propels us down a dangerous path that could tear the country apart from the inside.
Reagan and Cruz aren’t identical by any means. Reagan passed immigration reform that was necessary at the time but that Cruz would never pass today. However, when comparing the values that guide both the former President and the future statesman, it’s very clear that they share the same guiding principles and passions. It’s even more clear that the only way to bring back what Reagan did for the country three decades ago is through the wholehearted support of Ted Cruz today.
Here are the three distinct similarities between their campaigns and ideologies.
Fear and Hate from Neocons and the Republican Establishment
It utterly offends me when I hear moderates attempting to compare their ideologies to Reagan’s, people like Ed Gillespie, John McCain, Karl Rove, Paul Ryan, Reince Priebus, Mitch McConnell, Mitt Romney… the list of weak pseudo-Republican power brokers goes on and on. It isn’t just that they are blatantly against the ideals that Reagan (and Cruz) use in their policy decisions. It’s the hypocrisy of latching onto a man they wanted to destroy.
Ronald Reagan and Ted Cruz represent everything that the Republican Establishment hates: small government, religious freedoms, focus on small businesses as the heart and soul of the US economy, and military strength without force. It’s this last component that draws the ire from the Neocon branch of the Republican Establishment and we’ll focus on that shortly.
First, let’s take a look at what the Republican Establishment did to Reagan in 1979 and 1980. They painted him as divisive. They threw candidates at him, some of whom were not in any position to win delegates despite massive campaign war chests. John Connally, a former Democratic Governor of Texas and cabinet member for John F Kennedy, was part of the Neocon movement and served as Secretary of the Treasury under President Nixon. He spent nearly $10 million dollars with the sole purpose of derailing Reagan. He ended up with 1 delegate for his efforts.
We’re seeing the exact same thing coming out today against Cruz and to some extent Donald Trump. The Republican Establishment has such a fear of having another Reaganesque White House that they’re going to consolidate around one moderate candidate and make sure the others under their thumb go after Ted Cruz with all that they have. First Jeb Bush, then Chris Christie, then Marco Rubio appeared to be their candidate of choice, but none of the three have resonated as expected. Now, it appears that Christie may be usurping Rubio, but Rubio still has the inside track to acquire the Republican Establishment’s support if he’s able to start making some strong moves.
Whoever the chosen one is, the others will be given a hands-off decree. They will be instructed to attack Cruz and Cruz alone (unless Trump is still a threat by mid-March, in which case they’ll split their attacks). If Rubio is tapped by the Republican Establishment, Christie will be promised Attorney General, John Kasich will be promised an Ambassadorship, and Bush will be pressured by his family to back off on Rubio and to go after Cruz.
They have a plan. It will work unless conservatives deny them for the first time in three decades. It took Reagan getting help from journalists and evangelical leaders for him to survive the onslaught. It will take the same for Cruz.
Military Strength without Adventurism
The belief that democracy must reign at all costs has been demonstrated as futile since the Arab Spring. It has been a complete failure and despite the most recent actions by President Obama being at the top of the lists to blame for the chaos in the Middle East, it was the Neocons under both Presidents Bush as well as under President Clinton that formed the foundation of this geopolitical disaster.
Reagan was different. He didn’t need to invade East Germany to bring down the Berlin Wall. He didn’t have to send troops into battles around the world to bring stability. He ended the Cold War by being a statesman and a principled leader. He represented military strength without adventurism. He was closer in ideology to Rand Paul than to Marco Rubio, but like Cruz he would have rested somewhere in-between isolationism and adventurism. Strong military and fiscal responsibility are not happy bedfellows for the Republican Establishment and so they wanted to destroy Reagan just as they want to destroy Cruz.
People often forget that Reagan had fewer military incursions than any President that followed him. Like Cruz, Reagan believed that you only fought when you had to fight. Otherwise, the threat of action can be more powerful than action itself. Cruz is the only candidate who represents this demeanor towards the military and its place in the world.
Conservative Constitutional Principles Guiding Them
If there’s one thing the RINO (Republican In Name Only) power brokers in DC hate, it’s the idea that the Constitution must be defended above their own power base. The Constitution has stood in the way of Democrats and Neocons for decades. Reagan and Calvin Coolidge were the only Presidents of the 20th century who understood the need for it to supersede all concepts other than the Bible.
Like President Obama and President Reagan, Ted Cruz understands the Constitution. Unlike President Obama, Cruz sees it as the foundation of the greatest country the world has ever known instead of the roadblock that gets in Obama’s way. Now more than ever, the United States needs a President like Ted Cruz to make the Constitution the indispensable core of our government. Only Cruz can undo the damage that President Obama (and for that matter, Presidents Bush and President Clinton) has done in defiance of the Constitution.
Ted Cruz faces opposition from all sides just as Ronald Reagan did in 1980. The Democrats fear him. The Republican Establishment loathes him. No candidate in three decades has held the values and principles that Reagan brought to the White House like Cruz.