On July 31, 2012, Ted Cruz beat the sitting Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst for the Republican nomination for Senate.  At that time, he was relatively unknown to those outside of Texas. However, he almost immediately began rocking the Washington, D.C. boat, drawing a bold contrast between conservatism and liberalism instead of painting with the pale pastels of scared and surrounding moderation.

Senator Cruz came through a difficult primary having made a lot of promises to the Texans he hoped would be his constituents.  The promises he made are not unlike the promises a lot of candidates generally make and not unlike the promises Republicans were making in the 2012 election, namely to fight President Obama’s statist agenda on all fronts.  The difference between Cruz and most others is that Senator Cruz has honored the promises of Candidate Cruz.

On Capitol Hill it is an unwritten rule that freshmen senators are to be seen and not heard.  They need to sit quietly and support their superiors.  However, Cruz’s status as a freshman senator has not stopped him from pressing Democrats on issues that are often divided among partisan lines.

Less than 75 days after his January 3rd, 2013 inauguration as Texas’ Junior Senator Cruz tangled with California’s Senior Senator and long time gun-grabber Dianne Feinstein in a Judiciary Committee hearing over the proposed banning of certain weapons.

By this point in his short tenure Senator Cruz had already earned a reputation for not being a typical freshman.  Cruz drew the attention of his fellow Senators when he was one of three votes against former Massachusetts Senator John Kerry as President Obama’s nominee to head the State Department.  Cruz again drew the ire of Democrats, and this time Republicans, over his questioning of former Nebraska Senator Charles Hagel during Hagel’s confirmation as Secretary of Defense.

Cruz’s aggressiveness towards the left’s policies would typically earn him a role as an “attack dog” that party leadership trots out to Sunday shows and other media appearances to contest Democrat proposals and policies, a position Cruz would be well suited for given his proven ability as a champion debater, his message discipline, and his rhetorical flare.

There is only one problem for party leadership; Cruz is just as willing to call out fellow Republicans on their flaws and misgivings, as he is Democrats.  Cruz explicitly stated as much when giving a floor speech on the debt ceiling and the budget.

Cruz’s intraparty disputes have mainly been with Senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican nominee for President.  After supporting his libertarian-minded Republican colleague Rand Paul during Paul’s drone filibuster, McCain called Cruz, Paul, and Congressman Justin Amash (who, if elected to the Senate, would be more like Paul, Cruz, and Senator Lee than he would be like McCain) “wacko birds.”

To some this would not be a big divergence, as McCain and his seemingly inseparable partner-in-legislation Senator Lindsay Graham, draw scorn from those on the right for their “Republican In Name Only” tendencies.  However, more recently, Cruz (and more specifically a Cruz staff member) drew fire from what should be a relatively friendly source. It was reported recently that one of Houston Congressman John Culberson’s staffers thinks that Cruz’s staff is “‘not dealing in reality’ and making everyone’s life difficult” with regards to the possible solutions to the pending debt ceiling debates and possible government shut down.  The matter of not dealing in reality and making lives harder was because the Cruz staff member dared to propose that the House “fund the troops and other core priorities.”

Intraparty policy debates are not new or out of the ordinary.  There are many different conservative solutions to problems.  What is most odd about this exchange is how it concluded, when the Culberson’s aide went on to take offense that Senator Cruz dared to hold events in Congressman Culberson’s district and then had the audacity to tell their mutual constituents about his goal of defunding Obamacare.

The horror.  The horror.

All of Senator Cruz’s actions should have been foreseen.  He promised to do them when he campaigned, and that is why Texas Republicans nominated him and a majority of Texas voters sent him to Washington, D.C.

One of Senator Cruz’s biggest promises focuses upon a key issue of 2012 Republican politics: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare.”  Cruz vowed: “I’ll throw my body in front of a train to stop anything short of its complete and total repeal.

To his credit, he has thrown both his physical body and his political body on the tracks ready to bring Obamacare to a screeching halt.  Cruz has been leading various charges to get America out from under the albatross of Obamacare through “Exempt America” and Heritage Action for America, among other efforts.

Senator Cruz knew what was coming when he went to D.C.  He frequently said while campaigning that he was not seeking office to merely vote “right,” but to stand up and lead. If he did not have “arrows” in his torso, he was not doing the job he was sent to D.C. to do.

Senator Cruz is scaring the hell out of business as usual in Washington, because he is doing what he said he would do. More horrifically, he is bringing a rare commodity to inside the beltway: spine.


Kenneth Depew | University of St. Thomas (TX) | @DepewK