Sunday, June 21, 2015

Theocracy On The March

The face of angry bitter clinging wants you to vote for its son because the Bible tells you so:
Rafael Cruz, father of Republican presidential candidate Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, speaks on behalf of his son
at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Oklahoma City, 22 May 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS
Be afraid, be very afraid. Or, get a gun & defend yourself from the Witchfinder General here.
MARION, Iowa— Jan Landgren likes several of the Republican presidential candidates, but she started leaning hard toward Sen. Ted Cruz after his father came here and declared: “Did you know that the Bible tells you exactly who to vote for?”

Rafael Cruz, an evangelical pastor who recently spoke to about 200 people in Grace Baptist Church here, recited the guidelines for choosing political leaders that he found in Exodus 18:21: Select people who are able, God-fearing and truthful, among other virtues.

Mrs. Landgren, a retiree, said after the event that Mr. Cruz rose to the top of her list of 2016 GOP candidates: “I’m a real follower of Jesus, and when you have someone quoting the Bible, ‘This is what you do,’ you do it.”

Rafael Cruz, a 76-year-old Cuban-American who fled the Batista regime in the 1950s, is a super-surrogate on the presidential campaign trail for his son. He is a practiced speaker who brings evangelicals to their feet—a powerful weapon for his son in one of the fiercest battles within the Republican nomination contest: The fight for voters on the religious right.

Americans have “an awesome responsibility to elect righteous leaders,” Rafael Cruz said, pacing in front of the Grace Baptist Church pulpit. “It is about time that we become Biblically correct instead of politically correct.”

For the Cruz campaign, relying on the candidate’s father carries some risk. Rafael Cruz’s passionate Bible-laced rhetoric and provocative conservative barbs could alienate swing voters the Texas senator needs to broaden his appeal.

In his speech here, Rafael Cruz compared President Barack Obama to former Cuban President Fidel Castro. He said “social justice” was a Marxist concept and linking a rise in teen pregnancy and violent crime to Supreme Court decisions that took prayer and the Bible out of public schools.

“He is a fireball,” said Anthony Liston, a conservative pastor from Davenport, Iowa, who remained uncommitted after the event. “I am not comfortable with some of the hyperbole.”

Susan Sandeen, a Democrat who attended an event with Rafael Cruz in Monticello, Iowa, said she showed up out of curiosity but came away put off. “He is so dogmatic,” she said. “Everything is black and white.”

Ted Cruz, in an interview, said he was “not remotely’’ concerned about such reactions to his father. He said Democrats and other critics were trying to turn his father into a political lightning rod by quoting him out of context. “There is a concerted effort by some on the left and in the media to paint a scary caricature of my father,” he said.

Mr. Cruz isn’t the only Republican candidate whose profile has been colored by family ties. Jeb Bush’s relationship to two former presidents—his father and one of his brothers—gives him prominence and access to a large fundraising network. But he also has been burdened by questions about his brother’s unpopular policies, such as U.S. involvement in the Iraq war.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul appears to be benefiting from the grass-roots following built by his father, former Rep. Ron Paul, a hero of libertarians who twice ran for president. But he also has tried to distance himself from his father’s more controversial views—such as his isolationist foreign policy tendencies—and Ron Paul hasn’t been visible on the presidential campaign trail.

By contrast, Rafael Cruz is a central part of his son’s bid. His life story amplifies the Cruz campaign’s message extolling free enterprise, political freedom and family values.

After fighting in the Cuban resistance movement against the Batista regime as a youth, Rafael Cruz came to the U.S. on a student visa with little money, then worked his way through college at the University of Texas. He returned to Cuba after Mr. Castro’s rise, before leaving for good. In the U.S., he started a family and a small business in the oil industry.
Ted Cruz with father Rafael and mother Eleanor.  ENLARGE
Ted Cruz with father Rafael and mother Eleanor. PHOTO: SEN. TED CRUZ
After moving to Canada for professional reasons, Mr. Cruz’s marriage deteriorated, and he had what his son has called a “serious” problem with alcohol. He returned to Texas, became a born-again Christian and was reunited with his son and wife, although the marriage eventually ended in divorce.

Both Cruzes, in almost every speech, quote a line that Rafael Cruz repeated often to his son as a child: “When I lost my freedom in Cuba, I had a place to come to. If we lose our freedom here, where are we going to go?”

Mr. Cruz’s father has made more public appearances on behalf of the campaign than anyone but the candidate himself. When Senate business kept Mr. Cruz in Washington, his father stood in for him at a candidate forum in Oklahoma. During a single week in early June, Rafael Cruz traversed Iowa for meetings in 17 communities with evangelicals, local Republican Party members, tea-party activists and others.

The Cruz campaign is planning to release a video on Sunday featuring his father talking about his life story as an immigrant. “To see my son being sworn in as U.S. senator and now potentially being the next president of the United States, the only thing that comes to my mind is: Only in America,” he says.

The elder Mr. Cruz also has spoken often to pastors’ conferences. Mr. Cruz says those speeches have focused, not on promoting his son, but on advancing a broader goal of getting church leaders more involved in politics.

Still, his wide travels have put Rafael Cruz in front of a lot of people who his son will need in his presidential bid. Mr. Cruz’s path to the nomination, still considered by many as a long shot, hinges in part on his ability to consolidate a base of support among evangelical conservatives. He signaled his determination to win that constituency by kicking off his campaign at Liberty University, a Christian school founded by Jerry Falwell.

Mr. Cruz is competing for evangelical support against former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, and others. Rafael Cruz, says his son, “has a message that resonates. He speaks the truth and speaks from the heart.”

The message has reached Darran Whiting, a Baptist minister here who is backing Mr. Cruz. Mr. Whiting says he is making his endorsement earlier than ever, because he worries that evangelicals’ influence will be diluted if they don't rally behind one candidate.

“It is time for us to stop splitting our votes and get behind a candidate who can win,” Mr. Whiting said. “I’m tired of going to the polls holding my nose.”
Then don't vote. The last thing these United Snakes need is your informed-by-the-Bible-imaginings-of-a-senile-lunatic voting. Sheesh.

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