Column: Why the Senate is done with Ted Cruz

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz speaks during Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition's annual fall dinner, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (Michael Zamora/The Des Moines Register via AP)

Republican Senators finally seem to have had enough of Ted Cruz. He finds himself increasingly marginalized in the Senate and the GOP leadership is increasingly displaying their disdain for the Senator. Hopefully, this heralds the defeat of the desperate, emotional, and theatrical tactics of Cruz and a move toward more thoughtful, pragmatic, and responsible governance from the Republican Party.  

On Monday night, Cruz lambasted the Republican leadership for moving a clean funding bill that did not eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood. Cruz has been an especially vocal advocate of defunding the organization and took time on Monday to criticize Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for supposedly betraying conservatives. Republicans demonstrated their frustration with his continued attacks on party leaders and obstructionist tactics.

As reported in Politico, “Republicans shut down Cruz’s effort to force a procedural vote he dubbed a referendum on McConnell’s leadership. Democrats even joined in, blocking his efforts to speak beyond the hour allotted to him. A fellow GOP senator could have donated time to Cruz to allow him to speak, but GOP sources said there was little support for that idea.” In addition, “his Republican colleagues loudly bellowed ‘no’ when Cruz sought a voice vote, a second repudiation that showed how little support Cruz has,” also quoted from Politico. These events show exactly how little influence Cruz has in the Senate.

His tactics may make for good theater, but they are also a threat to good government. Cruz insists on a bill defunding Planned Parenthood. While many conservatives may desire that end, there is no practical hope of achieving it. The Senate cannot muster the sixty necessary votes to overcome a Democratic filibuster. Perhaps Cruz would like to use the “nuclear option” to override Senate rules and pass the bill with a simple majority, although such a drastic measure would be highly unpopular, threaten respect for Senate rules, and set a dangerous precedent for overriding future filibusters.

Even if the Senate took this drastic course and a bill defunding Planned Parenthood passed in both Houses of Congress, President Obama would certainly veto the bill. The Republicans have absolutely no chance of overriding a presidential veto with the required two-thirds of each House. There is nothing that can be achieved by pushing a bill defunding Planned Parenthood. It is simply not going to happen, no matter how much Mr. Cruz wants it to. 

Politicians must not only have ideals and a vision for the country, they must also be pragmatic. There are some battles that cannot be won and are not worth fighting. Sometimes all one can do is make one’s dissent known while recognizing the strength of overwhelming odds. Fighting tooth and nail for every matter of principle, risking government shutdowns on a regular basis, is no way to govern.

Politicians must know when to fight, when to compromise, and when to graciously accept defeat. Perhaps Cruz knows all this, but is merely manufacturing political theater and taking bold stands for the benefit of his constituents or to bolster his presidential campaign. However, the Senate of the United States are not a plaything for partisan hacks to manipulate in an effort to score points with voters.

Cruz must also cease his endless personal attacks on any and all that disagree with him. Contrary to his belief, he does not have a monopoly on speaking for the American people. While it is important to have convictions, politicians must not let disagreements lead to vindictive criticisms, as when Cruz called Senator McConnell a liar on the Senate floor in July. People are not nasty and awful because they do not share your views; it is possible for people to disagree in good faith.

Cruz’s inflammatory style fosters only divisiveness and theatrical rhetorical, rather than meaningful discussion, relationship building, and constructive political endeavors. As Senator Rand Paul said on Fox News Radio’s “Kilmeade & Friends,” “He is pretty much done for and stifled, and it’s really because of personal relationships, or lack of personal relationships.” He further stated, “other people have different perspectives and really this is a democratic republic, you have to woo people, you can’t hit them over the head.”

We can only hope that the recent snubs given to Senator Cruz will be followed by a general disavowal of his impractical and vitriolic style in Republican politics.


Brian McCarty is a staff columnist for The Daily Campus opinion section. He can be reached via email at brian.mccarty@uconn.edu.