Column: Ted Cruz and the danger of 'common sense'

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz speaks during a campaign rally at Huber's Orchard and Winery, Monday, April 25, 2016 in Starlight, Ind. (Christopher Fryer/News and Tribune via AP)

Senator Ted Cruz has spent millions to undermine the campaign of his rival, Donald Trump. His most recent attack ad, published on April 22, attacked Trump for his statement that individuals should “use the bathroom they feel is appropriate.”

Trump made his statement in response to questions about North Carolina’s anti-LGBT “bathroom bill,” which restricts and diminishes the civil liberties and human rights of transgender individuals. 

In supporting the North Carolina law, Sen. Cruz has often relied on his belief in “common sense.” Sen. Cruz has depicted himself as a savior for those Americans who feel threatened by the “p.c. police” in a gross misunderstanding of political correctness. Sen. Cruz has stated numerous times, as the narrator of his advertisement did, that “grown men shouldn’t share the bathroom with little girls.”

In fanning the flames of anti-LGBT, and more specifically, anti-transgender sentiment, Sen. Cruz is feeding the hatemongering which has caused the violent treatment of transgender Americans. His understanding of what it means to be transgender is prejudiced and misinformed. Further, in referring to transgender women as “grown men” in juxtaposition with “little girls,” Cruz is relying on the hateful trope of painting LGBT individuals as perverse.

This tacit suggestion of perversion is designed to inflame and legitimize anti-LGBT sentiment. When Sen. Cruz refers to a transgender woman as a man “pretending to be a woman,” he in turn suggests being transgender is farcical.

During an interview with Glenn Beck, Sen. Cruz argued “when you deal with people who are repulsive perverts and criminals, you need to – there are some bad people in the world, and we shouldn’t be facilitating putting little girls alone in a bathroom with grown adult men.” 

While Sen. Cruz may speak of a brighter American future, his words not only perpetuate nefarious myth-making regarding the LGBT community, but prop up a culture that condones hate crimes against transgender Americans. 

Instead of encouraging American unity, Sen. Cruz and his followers are playing to bigotry in a calculated campaign tactic. The Senator has decided votes are worth sacrificing the civil liberties, human rights and quality of life for millions of the American citizens, trampling the oath of office in the process. 

Cruz has tried and will continue to try and depict the expansion of civil liberties to transgender Americans as condoning perversion and a violation of a “common sense” mindset. 

American notions of common sense have pardoned decades of transgressions. When Alabama Gov. George Wallace declared “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” in 1963, it was his “common sense” position which lionized the racist, pro-segregation cause. Asserting the universality of “common sense” for political purposes is a dangerous and uncontrollable method of crowd pleasing. 

The “common sense” behind endorsing the North Carolina bathroom bill is rooted in the same ideological vein as that of Gov. Wallace and those who believed ending the rule of Jim Crow in the South would undermine society and reject “common sense” thinking. Sen. Cruz’s “common sense” is an ideology of denigration and hatred.

Though society has pushed forward in expanding civil liberties during the last century, the Senator and his followers are attempting to shift the cultural dialogue, in order to roll back progress and change.

During a 2010 speech, sponsored by the Heritage Foundation, Sen. Cruz criticized President Obama for speaking of “hope and change” without understanding America’s role as “the hope and change for the world for 200 years.” 

In attacking the President’s vision for hope and change, and commitment to that message, Sen. Cruz has failed to understand the power of humility in global politics, especially when mending wounds caused by ideologues like himself. The hope and change of which the President speaks is progress. Sen. Cruz’s notion of progress is thinly-veiled regression. 

This ideological regression is not limited to American shores; however, the United States’ ability to serve as an icon of “hope and change” will be restricted if Sen. Cruz and others continue to serve a niche of global politicians and citizens who wish to promote discrimination. 

It is unclear whose hopes Sen. Cruz wishes to include in his new American future. It is clear that, for Sen. Cruz, the millions of LGBT Americans are not a part of the future he envisions.


Christopher Sacco is opinion editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at christopher.sacco@uconn.edu.