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Leslie Loftis’s America Watch: DC elite hates Cruz because he wants to devolve power

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As the Republican nomination process now stands,the odds are Donald Trump will not have the majority of delegates going into the national convention and Sen. Ted Cruz will win on the second ballot.

As this realisation grows, even coverage outside the US has started to anticipate Ted Cruz as the Republican nominee. They are leading with the Most Hated Man in the Senate story.

Not that it isn’t true – for Washington DC. Ted Cruz is not the District’s favourite senator. In fact, the DC primary is the only one where Cruz has finished last. Despite all the #NeverTrump noise, DC voted for Rubio, Kasich, Trump, and then Cruz.

DC has always been most resistant to Cruz, and not because he is naive, crude, incompetent, untrustworthy, or any of an assortment of negative adjectives that might come to mind this US election cycle. The resistance comes because Cruz is a limited government federalist.

The UK devolution debate, which got a lot of attention in the wake of the Scottish Referendum, is very similar to federalist debate in the US.

Devolution is built into our government’s foundation. It is why and how we are a republic. And the whys and hows of DC’s drawing power back to itself over the past two centuries is a long and interesting story outside the scope of this article. (For anyone interested, I recommend Prof. Randy Barnett’s forthcoming book, Our Republican Constitution.)

Part of the conservative movement, the part that gets overshadowed by social conservative issues, is that limited government federalism which seeks to restore our republican system. And that is the part of the conservative movement that DC does not tolerate.

The problem isn’t new. Ronald Reagan was our last limited government conservative to run for the presidency. He won two landslides the first one in a split-right field. Like today, in 1980 moderate Republicans fretted that Reagan would be too hard right and divisive to win the general election, so they ran one of their own, John Anderson, as an independent. That split only cost Reagan six states, plus DC, of course.

Reagan also lost DC in 1984, when only Minnesota, his opponent’s home state, did not vote Reagan.

Today, Republicans in DC worry that a Cruz run might show that the elusive silent majority in American politics is the limited government majority.

Giving DC insiders the benefit of good intentions, they think that consolidated power works best. They see dangers to everything from fiscal health to religious liberty to national security and think that we just need stability to hold those forces at bay. Then, some time in a mythical more stable future, we can risk pushing back.

Cruz and a majority of the GOP base think this foolish. Cruz wants a republican restoration now.

Recall the US government shutdown in 2013. Cruz forced a shutdown to make a stand against the federal power grab – and practical disaster – that is Obamacare. Most DC Republicans were furious with Cruz for taking such an uncompromising stand. They thought he was being unnecessarily divisive and jeopardising the upcoming 2014 midterm elections. But that is not what happened.

From The American Spectator’s post 2014 election coverage, a piece titled, ‘Ted Cruz Wins: The Shutdown Worked’:

“A week ago the Republican Party – barely a year away from the government shutdown these folks were bewailing in various terms as bad strategy that ‘will lose more’ for Republicans than Democrats – won a blowout election.

“Again, the Republicans increased the House GOP majority, as of this writing, to 244 seats, the biggest advantage since the Truman administration. (Note to those who came in late: Harry Truman left office in January of 1953 – 61 years ago.)”

Not only did Republicans win the 2014 midterms, they had an historic win.

There is a list of the bewailing Republicans at the link, one that is quite interesting with hindsight.

As the media awareness grows that Cruz is the likely GOP nominee, we will see more of these most hated man stories. But the hate is more politics than personality. And I suspect we will learn that DC insiders conflate the two.

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Leslie Loftis
Leslie Loftis
Leslie is a once and future American expat, most recently in London. She is also a lawyer and former local political campaign operative turned freelance writer. She currently lives in her hometown of Houston with her husband and their four children. Find her on twitter @AHLondonTX.

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