Editor’s Note: At the time Mr. Depew finished writing, Senator Ted Cruz had surpassed the twelve hour mark holding the floor of the Senate. At the time of this article’s publishing, Mr. Cruz has surpassed the nineteen hour mark.
Check back with TCC later this week for further commentary on the rest of Senator Cruz’s marathon speech.
Just before midnight I had exceeded my daily Twitter limit, a feat I had yet to achieve until last night. Apparently, I had launched too many #StandWithCruz and #MakeDCListen hashtags into the Twitterverse.
Regardless of my ability to communicate my thoughts in 140 characters or less, the sounds of Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Mike Lee still echo in my living room. They are engaged in what talking head pundits on network TV payrolls are calling, in one way or another, “pointless,” and “a waste of time.”
To them, Senator Cruz’s filibuster (that isn’t technically a filibuster, but will be referred to as such) has a predetermined outcome, much like Obamacare itself. These are the same talking heads who only weeks before had declared with certainty that we would be at war with Syria and months prior that we would see a ban on legal weapons. In this case, they failed to take into account the Texas grit of our junior Senator and the industry of the Senator from Utah.
Senator Cruz took to the floor of the U.S. Senate at 2:42 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, vowing to “speak in support of defunding Obamacare until I am no longer able to stand.” I was not in front of the TV, yet, but when I heard I knew he would keep true to his words, and as I write this almost eleven hours after he took the floor he is still going, having just concluded speaking of Hobby Lobby and Toby Keith.
I knew this from traveling all over Texas as a part of Senator Cruz’s campaign team. Over five months we put more than 10,000 miles on my 2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer.
I knew candidate Ted Cruz before I committed my time, sweat and energy to his campaign. I had known him, and been on board since March 2011. Over those 10,000 miles I got to know Ted Cruz. Over that last eleven hours, America has been able to see a little piece of the man I know.
The debate is about cloture, a process which would lower the typical 60 vote threshold for passage through the Senate to 51 votes, which is much more achievable given the make up of the Senate.
His voice is showing signs of stress, but he speaks on. He will continue until he cannot stand. He is doing what he said he would do, when he vowed: “I’ll throw my body in front of a train to stop anything short of its complete and total repeal.”
Senator Cruz spoke of Obamacare, and used many devices to relate his position. He quoted Willie and Si from Duck Dynasty, read a letter from Teamsters President James Hoffa where Hoffa says his union ‘cannot stay silent,’ talked about Hobby Lobby’s lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services, and spoke on how the first settlers of what would become the United States of America were those seeking the freedom to practice their religion without infringement by a vast and oppressive government. He discussed all of this in order to make the point that Obamacare, and the thousands of pages of bureaucratic regulations that accompanied it, is, by it’s very nature, un-American.
Senator Cruz again read tweets from ordinary Americans. They were words of encouragement and support, and they told the story of how Obamacare is bad medicine for the people it was arguably intended to help: it has resulted in premium increases, patients being dropped from their coverage, and families not being able to keep their own doctors.
People only found out what was in the law because Congress passed it.
Senator Cruz and Lee, as they had during Senator Paul’s Drone Filibuster in March 2013, showed why they are the preeminent minds of modern American Constitutionalism.
Though he was not the main focus, make no mistake: Senator Lee was not playing second fiddle, but was a copilot, as he and Senator Cruz had been six months prior. Senator Lee humbly “paraphrased” the Federalist Papers, citing Madison. He would later boldly challenge the Supreme Court rulings on commerce and Obamacare.
Over the course of his filibuster, Senator Cruz entertained questions, without yielding the floor, to a few of his Republican colleagues and two Democrats. Senators Durbin and Kaine were able to find time in their schedules to take part in discussion regarding Obamacare. Many of Senator Cruz’s Republican colleagues were not. It was glaring and made me wonder, “et tu, Brute?”
They talk about getting rid of Obamacare, but when given a chance to act they did nothing.
They did not come to observe, much the less speak, and even less to support Senators Cruz and Lee. Senators Paul, Rubio, Sessions (Alabama), Vitter (Lousiana), Roberts (Kansas), Enzi (Wyoming), and Inhofe (Oklahoma) joined, and I commend them.
The other 37 republican Senators had other things to do, apparently. They exempted themselves from the fight in the same manner they are exempted from Obamacare. Instead of standing up to win the fight, they merely sit back and fail to even try. Their bluff has been called, and we must hold them accountable when they come home to talk about how they fight in D.C. In reality, they have merely been co-opted by it.
Senator Cruz is breaking hour number twelve, and his voice has regained its strength. He has reached his second wind, and he is continuing to fight. If, somehow, he gets knocked off his horse in this battle, he can still claim something many of he colleagues cannot: he saddled up.
Kenneth Depew | University of St. Thomas | @DepewK