Why the anger directed at Ted Cruz

Matthew Continetti:

The emotions generated by Cruz are of a degree not normally found in debate. The closest parallel is the reception of liberals and moderate Republicans to Sarah Palin’s vice presidential nomination in 2008. On the surface Cruz and Palin could not be more different: he a Princeton- and Harvard-educated lawyer, she a small-town mayor and Alaska governor whose record, let us recall, was nowhere as conservative as her later television persona. But the two are now allies—Palin endorsed Cruz in his primary last year—in the populist conservative wing of the Republican Party.

That wing of the party is much smaller than one might assume based on reading the newspapers and magazines, watching television, and listening to radio. Populists are the minority of a minority, in the U.S. Senate in particular. Funny, that this minority persuasion arouses such ire from the writers and producers and politicians at the top of the bipartisan food chain.

What makes the populists the object of such ridicule and spite is their refusal to bow to the consensus. Democracies love consensus—to a large degree democracies cannot function without it. But the premises of the American consensus today, whether a Democrat or a Republican holds them, are liberal. You have heard them before: the status of illegal immigrants must be made legal, so-called austerity harms the economy, governments must do something to forestall climate change, free trade is all benefits without costs, economic integration with China is a net-plus, diversity is a compelling state interest, health insurance is a right, abortion on demand is a right, Islamophobia is a bigger worry than Islamism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the root of Mideast turmoil, and at the end of the day human beings across the world, no matter their nation or religion or culture, are basically alike.

This is the consensus that shapes our assumptions about the world, our notions of what is proper political behavior and what is not, our idea of what is worthwhile and possible. This is the consensus that says Obamacare is a settled issue, that says a government shutdown would be a Biblical disaster.

Whether particular aspects of the consensus are right or wrong matters less than that they are held by as many people as possible. That is where the Tea Party enters the picture, for its view of the world is in many ways the very opposite of what one might hear at the U.N. General Assembly, and at the Clinton Global Initiative, and at establishment outlets in Washington. Challenge the consensus, disrupt expectations, introduce a little anarchy into the world, and you threaten the power of those who forge the consensus and benefit from it. You challenge the power of the caste.

The fact that Cruz is a product of elite institutions only makes his challenge more potent. Nothing quite annoys liberals more than an Ivy League conservative, especially when that conservative has populist tendencies. What a hypocrite, the liberals say. How can an Ivy Leaguer spout such nonsense? Doesn’t he understand he’s a member of the elite? Doesn’t he know better?

What the liberals miss is that membership in the caste is defined not by profession or resume but by ways of seeing and manners of thinking, by one’s willingness to repeat the party lines that establish one’s social position, by the degree to which one submits to convention, to the crowd. If Ted Cruz annoys and unsettles the cronies and oligarchs and bureaucrats and managers and navel-gazers assembled in New York City this week, and their servants in Washington, well, good for him. He refuses to submit to the consensus without a fight. He is a rebel without a caste.
Cruz is also Of Hispanic heritage  which makes him a double apostate, because he is supposed to be a liberal according to the consensus.  But, he is also very smart and when liberal challenge him, they usually wind up looking ignorant.  That also angers them.  But Cruz is doing what he said he would do if elected and those who supported him then are cheering his fight.


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