Now we’re used to this sort of thing from actresses and actors accepting Academy Awards and Golden Globes. For them it’s a little different though – what they’re really saying is “I didn’t create my own talent, I have it as a gift” – with a little nod to the role of dumb luck in their being up on the podium instead of one of the other nominees. What Ted Cruz did was different.
As his remarks continued to reiterate during his carefully crafted speech, he repeatedly credited his candidacy, and the people who voted for him, with being on the side of (and getting significant help from) the Lord God Almighty. Statements like “The promise of scripture” and “Our rights come from our creator” underscored this theme.
While sparing his Republican opponents from any direct suggestion of their not being in Divine favor, he made no bones about labeling Barack Obama and both of the potential Democratic candidates for President with being on the side of the Antichrist. Linkage of the American way of life with the will of the Lord, and identifying Mr. Cruz’s potential opponents in November as a threat to both, was overt and consistent. What this kind of rhetoric does, and what it is meant to do, is to move the political battle into its most primitive form, bringing it back to the days when church and state were completely identified, and when an offense against the Gods by the king was likely to bring punishment down on the whole country. The remark about “our rights come from our creator” with its skewered invocation of the Declaration of Independence left little doubt about where Mr. Cruz was coming from.
One of his last statements before the cameras deserted him to catch Hillary Clinton’s valiant attempt to reframe a tie as a marginal but comforting victory, was perhaps the most telling. His reference to “The Judeo-Christian values that built this great nation” laid out the battle lines clearly. While Jewish influence on the actions of America’s founding fathers was indirect (and has not been widely celebrated), and the empire America broke away from to create itself was a Christian one, the invocation of “Judeo-Christian” means just one thing in the context of this campaign. What it’s all about is this: it’s the real Americans against the Muslims. He never said it overtly, but Muslims are clearly neither Jewish nor Christian, hate both, and hate Americans most of all. The attempt to protect American “values” and “way of life” from the assaults of Muslims and Democrats alike (very much alike) has been a consistent theme on Mr. Cruz’ side of the debate. The Democrats' tolerance of Islam is portrayed as bordering on treason or, to put it in the underlying context, heresy. Mr. Cruz's attempt to anoint himself as the designated angel of deliverance moves what was intended by our Founding fathers to be a civilized exercise in freedom of choice (in a country founded on the principles of religious tolerance) onto the primitive and dangerous ground of “my God is tougher than your God” that our Founding Fathers got out of Europe to escape.
Whether Mr. Cruz honestly believes what he’s saying, or is just pandering to the Evangelical vote, this kind of religious demagoguery has no place in an American election. Hopefully, the American people, believers and unbelievers alike, will see it for what it is and reject it.