Why I Support Ted Cruz

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...