Perhaps nothing captures the imperialist arrogance of Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz more succinctly than his campaign’s statement declaring, “What is best for America is best for the world.” In addition to the obvious issue that billions of people around the world might disagree with Cruz on this point is the fact that it is not at all clear that the Republican presidential candidate’s proposed policies are even best for most Americans. But given his victory this past week in the Iowa caucus, Cruz’s ultra-conservative views can no longer be ignored while mainstream and progressive pundits busy themselves dissecting the bombastic rhetoric of the far less scary Donald Trump.
In contrast to most candidates that run for president, Ted Cruz has a clear vision for the future of the country. The problem for many Americans is that it is a terrifying vision. It is a vision that is imperialist, racist, sexist, classist and homophobic. For instance, Cruz proposes building a giant wall across the US-Mexico border in addition to using high-tech measures to keep out “illegal” immigrants while allowing corporate labor needs to dictate the flow of “legal” immigrants into the country. In addition to strengthening the military to ensure US hegemony around the globe, he also vows to boost US military support for Israel and to withhold funding from the United Nations if it “continues its anti-Israel bias.”
On the domestic front, Cruz is calling for a flat tax that will benefit the rich and gut government social spending. He has also vowed to curtail women’s rights by stating that he will order the attorney general to investigate Planned Parenthood on his first day as president. And he opposes same-sex marriage, declaring that “marriage is a sacrament between one man and one woman.” Finally, Cruz would not only fail to address climate change, which he views as a hoax, he would promote expanded oil and gas production. Given that these policy proposals make Cruz one of the most conservative presidential contenders in decades, it would behoove us to take a closer at them.
The new Republican frontrunner has proposed a border wall be built along the US-Mexico border to keep out so-called illegal immigrants. To this end he also intends to triple the size of the Border Patrol and put in place a biometric entry-exit system. Additionally, Cruz will scrap Obama’s amnesty and seek a five-year minimum prison sentence for those who illegally re-enter the United States. As for legal immigration, foreigners will only be allowed to enter the United States when Corporate America is running short of workers, an approach that is a far cry from the compassionate and humanitarian refrain, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.” Ultimately, such a repressive approach is not sustainable because it addresses the symptoms and not the cause of “illegal” immigration. One of the principal causes of immigration—and terrorism—is the global free market economic model, and the Republican candidate has vowed to address this cause by strengthening the US military in order to defend this model.
According to Cruz, he will have the right as president to dictate to the rest of the world how they should live because, as his campaign states, “The United States of America is the exceptional nation, the nation other countries aspire to be like. We should stand as a shining beacon of what free people enjoying a free market and system of government can achieve.” And if the “free people” of other nations should decide that they don’t want to live in a free market under a US-style liberal democratic government then we will just have to force them to because they simply don’t know what’s best for them. In actuality, Cruz doesn’t really care about their freedom anyway. Upon assuming office he intends to “prioritize American national security interests in every instance” by strengthening the military to ensure the continuation of US imperialism throughout the globe.
He also advocates boosting US military ties with Israel, which already receives approximately a quarter of all US foreign aid. According to Cruz, “America’s security is significantly enhanced by a strong Israel.” It is unclear how a strong Israel enhances the security of the United States given that US support for Israel is one of the principal grievances of not only terrorist groups in the Middle East but of an overwhelming majority of the people in that part of the world. In addition to militarily supporting Israel, Cruz intends to back the Jewish state politically by withholding funding from the United Nations if it continues to condemn Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories. He has also pledged to cut federal funding to any US universities that join the global campaign to boycott the Jewish state because of its repeated violations of international law. It is likely his promise to increase military support for Israel is linked to his pledge to throw out Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran as soon as he reaches the Oval Office, which would leave him few options besides the military one for dealing with that country.
Meanwhile, domestically, Cruz aims to eliminate the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by implementing a flat 10 percent income tax. While the IRS is not a loved institution by any means, such a policy would not only eliminate it, but also many social programs. The primary beneficiaries of a flat tax would be wealthy Americans who’d see their income tax rate plummet from the current 40 percent to 10 percent. Meanwhile, the average American worker’s tax rate would only drop by five percent. Clearly, Cruz has not learned from the mistake made by Britain’s former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who was ousted from power after she tried to introduce a flat tax.
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The resulting loss in government revenues from a flat tax would inevitably lead to cuts in government programs and, given that Cruz intends to increase funding for the military, it would mean that social programs that benefit lower-income Americans would have to be gutted. The first social program that Cruz intends to eliminate is Obamacare. But unlike Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who wants to replace Obamacare with a more comprehensive universal healthcare plan, Cruz simply wants to scrap it and rely on a market-based system that has left fifty million Americans without affordable health coverage.
With regard to the economy, Cruz seeks to “unleash economic prosperity” in the United States through the “Great American Energy Renaissance.” This renaissance has nothing to do with shifting the country towards renewable energy sources; rather it seeks to reinvigorate the fossil fuel industry by promoting oil and natural gas exploration and production. To this end, Cruz vows to approve the Keystone Pipeline and “remove federal impediments to energy exploration.” Cruz isn’t concerned about the consequences of his energy policies for the environment because he doesn’t believe that human activity contributes to climate change. The conservative Southern Baptist claims that “global warming alarmists” act with a religious fervor that shows how “climate change is not science. It’s religion.”
And speaking of religion, it is a driving force of Cruz’s policy agenda. He uses his religious views to justify targeting both women and queers. “Marriage is a sacrament between one man and one woman, it has strengthened societies for millennia, and we must uphold the truth of marriage,” his campaign literature states. It goes on to declare, “Extreme leftists … are trying to extinguish these most fundamental, God-given rights.” Cruz believes that these “God-given rights” mean that only heterosexual couples can “value authentic companionship and intimate connection” and that homosexuality is a “choice.” Accordingly, he has fought against the right of federal judges to rule in favor of same-sex marriage.
The Republican frontrunner has also repeatedly sought to restrict women’s access to abortion through legislation and through attempts to cut federal funding to Planned Parenthood. In fact, he vows that, if elected, one of the first things he will do on his first day in office is order the attorney general to investigate Planned Parenthood. Cruz’s religious fervor is also evident in his campaign’s declaration that “Our rights do not come from government. They come from God.” Accordingly, Cruz was instrumental in ensuring that the Supreme Court did not remove the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.
Cruz is also an opponent of gun control and a staunch defender of his interpretation of the Second Amendment. In reference to his defense of our right to bear arms, Cruz’s campaign states, “When citizens cease to have the right to defend ourselves, we cease to be free. And now, more than ever, as radical Islamic terrorists seek to attack Americans on our own soil, Americans’ right to protect our families and communities is all the more critical to our safety and freedom.” If Cruz is seriously concerned with the safety of US citizens then it is Americans and not foreign terrorists that he should be worried about. After all, the number of Americans killed on US soil by radical Islamic terrorists is miniscule in comparison to the more than 10,000 Americans who are killed by their gun-wielding fellow Americans every year.
A Cruz victory in November would result in a serious shift to the right for the United States with regard to both domestic and foreign policies. The Republican candidate’s policy proposals should terrify not only Americans, but people around the world who do not believe that the United States is an “exceptional nation” that knows what’s best for everyone. Such an imperialist approach over the past half-century by Washington has bestowed on us a chaotic world marked by terrorism, refugee crises, human trafficking, growing inequality and ecological destruction. A Cruz administration would only intensify this tragic reality. Contrary to what Cruz believes, what is best for America is not best for the world, as evidenced by recent polls that show the United States is seen around the globe as the greatest threat to world peace. A Cruz presidency would further validate that perception.