In his 1944 opus “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive,” the philosopher Johnny Mercer provided some bracing imperatives that, rightly understood, explain why I am supporting Ted Cruz for the presidency of the United States.
“You’ve got to accentuate the positive,” Mercer argued.
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between.
Quite right. These imperatives, while not quite categorical, are sufficiently compelling to command our attention. Ted Cruz is the only candidate who accentuates the positive, who latches on to the affirmative.
1. Executive power. Even many ardent supporters of President Obama have been taken aback by his style of governance, which has increasingly relied on two extra-constitutional expedients: a) executive diktat and b) regulatory hypertrophy.
Regarding the first: Every president, on taking the oath of office, promises to “preserve, protect, and defend” the Constitution and “faithfully execute” the laws. But Barack Obama has conspicuously failed to do this. Item: When enacting some provisions of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) turned out to be politically inexpedient, Obama simply declined to enforce them, “legislating,” as one report put it, “from the White House.” Item: When the state of Arizona sought to enforce immigration laws that were on the books but that Obama did not like, he ordered Border Patrol agents to ignore the law. This is just the beginning of a very long list.
Regarding the second: the Obama administration has vastly expanded the prerogatives of such agencies as the Environmental Protection Agency (just one example), which presides over a budget in excess of $8 billion and a workforce of more than 15,000. Increasingly, this alphabet soup of regulatory agencies, whose minions are unelected and essentially unaccountable to the public, impedes economic growth and harasses citizens with a burdensome regimen of bureaucratic paperwork and often pointless oversight. As Hayek noted in The Road to Serfdom, a low-level government bureaucrat wields much more power over our lives than a billionaire who might happen to be our neighbor or even our employer, for he comes bearing the coercive power of the state.
Ted Cruz is the only candidate, Democrat or Republican, who understands and is prepared to address the twin dangers of executive overreach and the stealth statism of regulatory bloat.
You are always hearing, even from those who do not support him, that Ted Cruz is “a constitutionalist.” In other words, he believes that the governance of this country should be guided by that amazing, 8000-word document the Constitution of the United States. At the center of the Constitution are two ideas: 1) that power should be dispersed and decentralized and 2) the People are sovereign. It is sometimes forgotten that the Constitution is essentially a prophylactic instrument, designed to protect the people from the state. The Founders were careful to frame a government in which the executive exists to execute, not to make the laws. That is why the first thing you come upon, in Article I, is a discussion of Congress, into whose hands the Founders intended to invest the essential law-making power of the government. There is some irony, perhaps, that Ted Cruz wishes to assume the office of the president in order to circumscribe the power of that office. But the fact that something is ironical need not detract from its truth. Barack Obama is the fulfillment of a long process of power consolidation in the hands of the president. He has not governed so much as he has ruled, partly by fiat, partly by intimidation. I believe that Ted Cruz would reverse that decades-long process whereby the president of the Untied States mutated into a sort of imperial bureaucrat. His ambition to limit the scope of presidential ambition would alone be sufficient reason to support Ted Cruz.
But there is more, much more. One of the curiosities of the reign of Barack Obama is that while he has vastly increased the power of the state domestically, when it comes to the world outside, to national security, he has gravely weakened the United States, both physically, in terms of its military strength, and psychologically, in terms of that diffuse but indisputably potent resource, prestige. ISIS rages, Russia buzzes our warships and reconnaissance planes, China militarizes the South China Sea. We do . . . nothing. Which brings me to…
2. National security. Ted Cruz would reverse the policy of spineless accommodation underwritten by a globalist suspicion of U.S. power that has characterized the Obama administration from the president’s grand “apology tour” in the opening weeks of his administration to the appalling side “deal” he recently made with Iran, funneling billions upon billions of dollars to a regime whose central ambition, apart from the enabling contingency of acquiring nuclear weapons, is the destruction of Israel.
Like Ronald Reagan, Cruz understands the deep truth implicit in the motto “peace through strength.” A strong military may facilitate war; weakness and capitulation tend to precipitate it. Strength keeps the peace; weakness and irresolution invite dangerous adventurism among our rivals and opponents. In pursuit of a stronger United States, Cruz has promised to increase military spending to at least 4 percent of GDP. He has promised to scrap the illicit accommodation with Iran that Obama circumvented the Senate to extend. And he has made it clear that, when he is president, we will no longer have to fear calling Islamic terrorism by its real name. Cruz has furthermore made it clear that in his administration, national self-interest, not a Wilsonian attachment to fostering world democracy, would be the cornerstone of his foreign policy. Such a policy might offer fewer opportunities for grand-sounding utopian rhetoric, but it will do far more to foster the security not only of the United States but also of the rest of the world.
I suspect that national security issues are going to impinge more and more urgently on our lives as the time bombs bequeathed to us by nearly eight years of President Clueless begin to detonate. The people of the United States, and indeed of the world, will thank their lucky stars that the country will be guided by a mature, pro-American patriot who understands the metabolism of power and is not afraid to call things by their real names.
Of course, it is not only on the international scene that Barack Obama has proceeded against American interests like a wrecking ball. There is also the shambles he has made of our economy, from that fiscally incontinent disaster that is Obamacare to the mind-boggling, anti-prosperity agenda that is his energy policy. And that brings me to number…
3. Economic policy. It is no secret that the U.S. economy is stagnant. Growth is the fuel that powers prosperity, but growth on Obama’s watch has been anemic at best. Ted Cruz understands that unfettered capitalism is the most powerful engine for the production of wealth that the world has ever seen. He has set forth in meticulous detail a freedom agenda that would lower taxes and streamline government and its regulatory militia, beginning with the Internal Revenue Service, which he promises to abolish. People scoff at that, thinking it is just hustings hyperbole. I think he is in earnest, and I like it. The current tax code runs to seventy-six thousand pages. It is a bureaucratic monstrosity of historic proportions. The IRS is charged with collecting taxes. Under Obama, it has been weaponized as a battalion of ideological gauleiters, bent on imposing certain left-wing social policies by granting or withholding the oxygen of its approval. Cruz would change all that. He has outlined a compelling and radically simplified tax plan, one of whose signal selling points is a tax form the size of a post card. I write on the eve of tax day 2016. How I would have preferred to file this:
Reining in executive power. Returning sovereignty to the people. Restoring the prestige and capability of the U.S. military. Lowering taxes, abolishing the IRS, and unleashing economic prosperity. I believe that Ted Cruz would actually do these things. His agenda is a pro-growth, pro-American agenda. I believe further that he understands, viscerally as well as intellectually, the fundamental importance of free speech and (what is part of free speech) religious liberty to the integrity of our institutions and our way of life. A couple of years ago, when the Senate Judiciary Committee (then presided over by Democrats) proposed amending the First Amendment in order to circumvent the defense of political free speech enshrined in the Citizens United case, Ted Cruz proposed an alternative. He read aloud on the Senate floor the text of the First Amendment and called for a vote. Every Democrat senator voted against it. Yes, that’s right: they voted against the First Amendment. It has been pointed out to me that some of the senators may not have recognized the text. That is possible, I suppose. I don’t think I would call it reassuring. One of the things you hear in favor of Ted Cruz is that he is a potent debater. I have to say I thought that performance was a master stroke.
The bottom line is this: Ted Cruz stands head and shoulders above anyone else as an affirmative candidate. He accentuates the positive, as Johnny Mercer so eloquently enjoined us to do, and latches on to the affirmative. That’s the task that Ted Cruz set himself. It is up to us, the voters, to eliminate the negative and say goodbye to Mister In-Between.
PJ Media does not endorse candidates, but its columnists are free to do. It is my honor to take this occasion on the veritable eve of the New York primary to endorse Ted Cruz for president. He is an honorable man who has a deep and pragmatic understanding of how the American system of government actually works. More important, he understands the American soul. His critics complain that he does not get on with his Senate colleagues, many of whom, they point out, dislike him. But they dislike him precisely because since assuming office in 2012 he has battled to serve the people, not the Washington establishment. The 19th-century man-of-letters William Dean Howells once pointed out that for a critic, the problem is not making enemies but keeping them. The same should be true of politicians, for whom universal assent usually betokens universal corruption.
Often in politics one finds oneself rooting for the lesser of two evils, a compromise candidate. But in the case of Ted Cruz, we have a candidate who is more energizing and affirmative than anyone since Ronald Reagan. America faces a myriad of problems, foreign and domestic. But America is also blessed with extraordinary resources, from our political institutions to our material assets and geographically protected situation. As Ronald Reagan demonstrated, a forceful and enlightened leader can accomplish extraordinary things in America. Ted Cruz is just such a leader. I do not know what Ted Cruz’s favorite verse from the Bible is. But I am morally certain it is not “An eye for an eye.” More likely, I’d wager, it is something like “You will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” I hope you’ll bypass the cliches that have accumulated like barnacles upon the reputation of Ted Cruz and see for yourself what he stands for. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.