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Sep 27 2013

Ted Cruz’ Fake Populism

I’ve never had much use for populism, which tends always to be fueled by demagoguery, but there are few things more absurd than unpopular populism. As Ezra Klein points out, Ted Cruz’ absurd claim that he’s doing what he’s doing because he’s standing up for the “will of the people” is about as disconnected from reality as it is possible to be. 59% of the public opposes shutting down the government to defund Obamacare. Only 19% favors it. And:

Cruz opposes raising taxes on the wealthy. The public supports it. Cruz opposes gun control. The public supports it. Cruz supports sharply cutting spending on Medicare and Social Security. The public opposes it. If Cruz actually believed his job was directly representing the will of the people, his voting record would be extremely different than it is.

Which is why it’s so odd Cruz has chosen this argument. He could just be up there arguing against Obamacare. Instead he’s arguing that we need to #MakeDCListen. He’s making a broad, quasi-philosophical argument that senators should more fully reflect public opinion. But even he doesn’t believe it. Cruz’s filibuster is self-refuting.

And this is true of the entire Tea Party movement. It presents itself with populist rhetoric, but the policies it favors are extremely unpopular. Cruz is representing only a small minority of extremists, but he is trying to convince us and them that he represents the majority.

19 comments

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  1. 1
    kantalope

    To be fair all of the people the Cruz talks to everyday and all the voices in his head are always in complete agreement. And they all agree with jesus and god on all particulars.

    Bubble populism….don’t pop it; you can’t stop it.

  2. 2
    raven

    Cruz supports sharply cutting spending on Medicare and Social Security.

    Good luck with that one.

    Those two programs are wildly popular. And the Tea Party voters are heavy users of both programs.

    Bush floated the idea of getting rid of social security. It went nowhere fast. Which was too bad.

    I would have become a billionaire fast. My new company would have delivered food, blankets, and blue tarps to the millions of old people living in the public parks.

  3. 3
    raven

    Cruz supports sharply cutting spending on Medicare and Social Security.

    1. We already have alternatives to social security. Lots of them.

    IRA;s, Roth IRA’s, and the increasingly common 401(K) plans. And the fading into the sunset pension plans.

    Usually the Tea Party/GOP propose some sort of super IRA/401(K) scheme.

    Which past history says won’t work. The 401(K) plans haven’t really worked for most people for lots of reasons. Most people aren’t capable of running their own individual social security system. It’s just a way to produce huge numbers of poor, old people.

    2. BTW, social security and medicare are more or less self funding. Social Security will run out of money in 2033 unless minor changes are made. In political terms this is near infinite. Medicare isn’t quite as self funding but it is close. Cruz is an idiot to not know that.

    There are problems with our federal budgets but they aren’t social security, food stamps, or Medicare.

  4. 4
    Trebuchet

    Hey, don’t forget corporations are people too!

  5. 5
    zero6ix

    Maybe, just maybe, this is all a fantastic ploy to actually get everyone riled up. A true “#MakeDCListen” type deal, by showing the insane disconnect that exists between the elected and the citizenry. That would make Cruz awesome.

    Of course, that would require an intense level of foresight that does not exist in reality.

    Why am I so skilled at raising my own hopes, and then dashing them quite expertly?

  6. 6
    Modusoperandi

    “And this is true of the entire Tea Party movement. It presents itself with populist rhetoric, but the policies it favors are extremely unpopular.”

    Lies! They represent the things that are popular to themselves.

    “Cruz is representing only a small minority of extremists, but he is trying to convince us and them that he represents the majority.”

    Actually, Cruz represents a majority of extremists.

    raven “Good luck with that one. Those two programs are wildly popular. And the Tea Party voters are heavy users of both programs.”
    1a. Relentlessly say that “Entitlements must be cut”. Negotiate with Obama (who among other idiotic ideas, responds with Simpson/Bowles Commission, which, despite being loaded with Dem Deficit Hawks, fails because GOP won’t take “yes” for an answer).
    1b. Obama saves some money in Medicare, puts it in to the ACA. Floats idea of changing SS COLA.
    2. Scare Base during election season with “Obama stole $500B from Medicare!” (SS COLA idea too wonky to scare that many old people).
    3. After election, goto step 1a. Repeat cycle.

  7. 7
    exdrone

    I’m sure by now that Cruz has received overwhelming acclaim from his population base (see kantalope @1) for his faux filibuster and is encouraged to repeat his performance in the future, maybe on a recurring basis – weekly, if we could be so lucky. Dr. Seuss has over 60 books, so maybe Netflix could develop a series out of it.

  8. 8
    Leo Buzalsky

    I’m sorry, Ed, but you are clearly wrong on this one. Citing polls that survey all Americans??? Ridiculous! We all know that only those who belong to the Tea Party are the True(TM) Patriots!!! It is their will, and only theirs, that is important. The views of the sheeple do not matter. So when you correctly filter these polls, it becomes clear that indeed Cruz does represent the people.

    *END SNARK*

    OK, that was difficult…I am really curious, though, how the Tea Partiers do relieve the cognitive dissonance that should arise from holding such views that contradict reality.

  9. 9
    Modusoperandi

    Wups. Raven, by what I wrote I mean “They* will gut it if they can, but only if they can blame it on Democrats”. Obama, as we’ve all seen, is all too willing to meet them part way.

    * Establishment Republicans (Cynical Manipulators) and Randians (True Believers?) hate the social safety net, and Teabaggers (True Believers) hate it when other people get it…to the point that Ryan didn’t get booed off the stage when he said that his plan “kept” Medicare for current retirees while screwing over their kids (you know you’re commited when you’re willing to sacrifice your own kids’ retirement to your ideology. That ideology being mostly “Hate Obama!”, but still…).

  10. 10
    Reginald Selkirk

    Dr. Seuss has over 60 books, so maybe Netflix could develop a series out of it.

    If Cruz goes that route again, the media should take note that Theodor Geisel was a liberal Democrat.

  11. 11
    Michael Heath

    Leo Buzalsky snarks:

    We all know that only those who belong to the Tea Party are the True(TM) Patriots!!! It is their will, and only theirs, that is important. The views of the sheeple do not matter.

    I realize this is for snark, but I do want to point out that the sheeple are the Tea Partiers. I’m not sure your snark was purposefully doing a psychological projection play on the Tea Partiers or not; it seemed not. That the you were instead implying the Tea Partiers don’t need to pander to sheeple, as if they’re the elite (rather than the mass of privileged).

    Instead Tea Partiers and the sheeple are one and the same, i.e., older white conservative Christian populists, and not the elites. There of course some elites that brand themselves as Tea Partiers, mostly social dominators or double-high authoritarians and social dominators, e.g., Ted Cruz, but that is in reference to the leaders of the movement, not the general population itself.

  12. 12
    caseloweraz

    Ed has a point. If you’re going to call yourself a populist, it behooves you to advocate popular programs. Take Huey Long, a Democrat who became Louisiana governor and then U.S. Senator. He advocated the sort of redistribution of wealth the Tea Party consistently blasts — from the rich to the poor. As governor, he expanded schools and hospitals and got lots of highways and bridges built. Somebody shot him. Nicknamed “The Kingfish,” Long was controversial during his life, and still is.

  13. 13
    colnago80

    Yessir, Cruz the populist whose wife works for Goldman Sachs. I wonder how much of the bailout gelt stuck to her sticky fingers?

  14. 14
    D. C. Sessions

    Cruz is representing only a small minority of extremists, but he is trying to convince us and them that he represents the majority.

    They do represent the majority of Real Americans™!

  15. 15
    D. C. Sessions

    I am really curious, though, how the Tea Partiers do relieve the cognitive dissonance that should arise from holding such views that contradict reality.

    Question assumes capability for detecting contradiction not in evidence.

  16. 16
    raven

    I am really curious, though, how the Tea Partiers do relieve the cognitive dissonance that should arise from holding such views that contradict reality.

    What reality?

    The Tea Party might have heard of it but they don’t really believe it exists. Or care.

  17. 17
    howardhershey

    I loved his citing the mythical single mom working in a diner who Obamacare forced into working two 29 hour a week jobs. First, only businesses with more than 50 full-time employees need to provide a health care plan. That excludes most diners. Second, that mythical mom likely does not currently get any health insurance from her employer anyway, and given her low wage job, likely would be able to go on Medicaid (unless she lives in a state run by Republicans) or get substantial help in buying the heatlh insurance her cheap-ass employer doesn’t want to provide.

  18. 18
    democommie

    howardhershey:

    Look, dude, it’s all part of the Master Plan formulated by Obamandingo.

    First they came for the gunz and they’ve never stopped.

    Then they set up the DeathpanelFEMAcamp compounds.

    Now they’re forcing everybody to register with the state so’s they’ll know who lives where.

    Once they get teh gunz out of our hands the rest of it is easy.

    The only thing that stops a bad national health care initiative is a good guy with a gun and no health insurance.

  19. 19
    andrew

    Revolutionary movements generally share a delusion that ‘the people’ are on their side. Whether the students in Les Mis and the people of Paris or the Tea Party and ‘real america’, they fool themselves into awaiting a massive popular vindication once they’ve really made their case. Of course, they must invent increasingly elaborate justifications for why this doesn’t happen: sometimes, the people are unworthy of their heroic vision (sucking on the government’s teat, etc), sometimes they are fearful, sometimes they have been fooled by liberal propaganda (college professors and the media, as funded by George Soros), but there’s always the delusion, and always the rationalization.

    Not that progressives don’t do this as well: the folks who can’t win a democratic primary have this adorable way of thinking they could win the general if only … well, what, exactly? No one quite knows, but once it happens things are sure to work!

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