[This post originally appeared under the title of “The Real Ted Cruz” in American Thinker magazine on January 25, 2016.]
Contrary to some who have expressed concerns about Ted Cruz’s temperament and qualifications to be an effective President, my experience in working with the Texas Senator and Republican presidential candidate during the early 2000s convinces me that he is the right person at the right time for the job.
Although not a close friend of Senator Cruz, I learned to know him well as a colleague at the Federal Trade Commission from mid-2001 until he left the Commission to return to Texas in 2003. During that time, we worked together on a number of projects, including efforts to curtail anticompetitive legislation pending in several states to protect incumbent businesses such as gasoline retailers and automobile dealerships, and a task force established by the FTC’s Chairman charged with looking into litigants’ abuses of legal immunities to the antitrust laws. The Chairman appointed Cruz to lead that task force, and I was one of the members.
In this capacity, I was able to observe Ted’s professional skills, his personal characteristics, and, significantly, his commitment to constitutionalism, the rule of law, and free-market economics. These personal observations impel me to conclude not only that Ted possesses the qualifications to be President in terms of intellect, temperament, and knowledge of the issues facing the country; but even more importantly, that he is uniquely the right person to lead America at this time in its history.
Ted Cruz’s Intellect Is Extraordinary
Ted’s academic credentials are well known: Princeton, Harvard Law, and Clerk to the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Even these outstanding credentials, however, do not fully reveal Ted’s extraordinary brain power. Indeed, the first impression that I had of Ted was provided by that extraordinary brain power as demonstrated by his ability to move down a learning curve of a new subject at lightning speed and acquire knowledge and skills that most people take years to acquire.
Ted and I arrived at the FTC on the same day in 2001. At that time, I had had over twenty-five years’ experience in the antitrust field. Ted had none. He came to the agency at the behest of the White House as a reward for the work he did on behalf of George W. Bush in the Bush v. Gore recount litigation in Florida, not because of any significant antitrust background. Indeed, the Chairman had not previously known Ted.
Upon arriving, however, Ted immediately immersed himself in self-study of antitrust law, consulting the major legal treatises in the field as well as reading and absorbing critical antitrust case law. Amazingly, within a few short months, Ted made himself into a superb antitrust lawyer and policy thinker. Observing this feat first hand left me in awe of Ted’s superior intellect. He is surely one of smartest persons I have ever known.
Ted Cruz Has a Winning Temperament
Since becoming the junior Senator from Texas, Ted has been labeled – at least by some in the media – as the most disliked Senator among his colleagues. It is reported that he eschews many Senatorial “courtesies,” and abjures the posture expected of a junior Senator to defer to more senior members and “to go along to get along.” I personally find this attitude refreshing because I see it arising out of Ted’s total commitment to the principles on which he campaigned in Texas, fidelity to which he sees as taking precedence over warm feeling from his fellow Senators.
In my own experience as a colleague, I found Ted to be very easy to work with. I never knew him to tout his own resume, talk down to anyone, or insist on deference to his position. To the contrary, I knew him to be consistently pleasant, generous with his time, and most importantly, always respectful of others’ views and work-product. I remember, for example, that Ted often dropped into my office to follow up on some comment or idea that I had offered during an earlier task force meeting. Those meetings generally permitted only limited discussion because of the number of people present, and Ted wanted to explore my thinking further. Unlike many persons holding titles in government, it never occurred to Ted that, because of his higher position as head of the task force, protocol would demand that I be called into his office. Such ego-driven attachment to hierarchy never mattered to Ted. To the contrary, he was only interested in getting the best ideas out of the people around him. All in all, I cannot recall a single instance when I did not enjoy interacting with Ted professionally. He not only displayed a consistent winning temperament throughout the time we were together, but did so in a way that drew out the highest quality of professional thinking from those with whom he worked and supervised.
Ted Cruz’s Knowledge of the Issues Is Deep
There is no question that today the country is in bad shape. On the domestic economic front, during the Obama years we have experienced near stagnant economic growth, a decline in labor force participation and middle class prosperity, and a dramatic increase of big government intrusion into the economy in the form of regulatory overreach, Obamacare, and massive market distortions owing to the failed $800 billion “stimulus” package. Many elites have accepted perpetual stagnation as the new normal.
One only need listen to Ted Cruz’s speeches or consult his detailed policy papers on his website to realize that he not only rejects this new normal but also that he understands its causes and therefore what needs to be done to bring back the dynamism that the United States’ economy has historically exhibited. In particular, Ted understands that free market capitalism is the engine that drives growth and prosperity. He also understands that future growth and prosperity require savings and capital accumulation, not a culture of government handouts and spending coupled with a tax system that discourages work and saving. And perhaps most critically, Ted understands the importance of institutions such as the rule of law and sound money to the efficiency of free market capitalism. The free market engine only works when it is well lubricated and when it rests on a solid legal and monetary foundation.
Contrast these principles with those articulated by Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic presidential nominee. Among other anti-free market policies, Mrs. Clinton proposes price controls in the form of higher federal minimum wages, increased health care regulation that goes beyond even the morass of Obamacare, higher taxes, massive increases in government spending on social programs, and a federal government that intrudes into nearly all avenues of economic life. On this score, the data of economic history are clear. Never has there been a society in which such command and control policies have resulted in continuing prosperity. To the contrary, Mrs. Clinton’s economic programs would assure that the new normal of stagnation will persist indefinitely, if not become even worse.
Significantly, among all the Republican candidates, Ted Cruz is the only one who can be counted on to remain fully committed to the kind of economic freedom that the country desperately needs to restore its economic dynamism. Consider, for example, the contrast with Donald Trump who shows a near total absence of economic literacy as exemplified by his pronouncements on trade, healthcare markets, and property rights. Or consider the stark contrast with Senator Marco Rubio, who, despite lauding free markets in nearly every campaign speech, could not wait, in the interest of political expediency, to vote for continuation of the New Deal era anti-free market sugar program after arriving to the Senate. By contrast, Ted Cruz has never deviated from a commitment to free trade and unimpaired markets. Indeed, in Iowa he rejected all temptation to pander to Iowa voters, despite the likely adverse political consequences, by lending support to the market-distorting federal ethanol mandates that are so important to certain rent-seeking segments of the Iowa farm economy. Whereas Donald Trump’s and Marco Rubio’s blatant hypocrisy brings into doubt the extent to which either can be trusted to hold steady to free market principles in the face of political opposition, Senator Cruz’s courage and commitment to economic freedom cannot be questioned.
In addition to economic issues, it is clear that Ted Cruz is superior to all other candidates respecting his understanding of and commitment to America’s founding constitutional order, including federalism, the separation of powers, and the protection of individual liberty against government coercion. One only need observe Ted’s passion whenever he talks about religious liberty, the rights given under the Second Amendment, and the most fundamental of all liberty rights, the right to life and self-ownership. Compare Ted, for example, to the constitutionally challenged Donald Trump, who wants to disregard the rule of law and the separation of powers as much as President Obama, and instead simply substitute his own version of an imperial presidency. This is not the place to list the near endless examples of Obama’s lawlessness or list the ways that Donald Trump would mimic that lawlessness, but I think that it is evident that a Ted Cruz administration would be the antithesis of such lawlessness. The founding principles anchored in individual liberty would be the focal point of a Cruz administration.
I will not dwell on foreign policy because it is outside of my area of competence. As a citizen, however, I share the dismay of many of my fellow Americans at the decline in American prestige in the world and respect as a beacon of liberty that has occurred during the Obama years. Knowing Ted Cruz as I do, I have every confidence that, as President, he would restore America’s leadership among the world’s democracies. I have no such confidence that Mrs. Clinton would achieve such a result. Indeed, I would expect America’s decline to accelerate under a Clinton presidency. Similarly, I have little confidence that any of the other Republican candidates, and surely not the carnival barker Donald Trump, would have the seriousness of purpose that Ted Cruz would have toward securing America’s safety, restoring its world leadership role, and maintaining the fear and respect of its enemies.
Ted Cruz Is Uniquely the Right Person for President at this Time in History
America has traveled along the path of ever-increasing statism for the better part of a century. From the progressive era onwards, the left has fostered the view that the founders’ Constitution, which was focused on the protection of individual liberty by constraining the powers of government, needs to be reinterpreted to encompass an ever-growing state that solves problems, awards new rights at the expense of others’, and redistributes wealth. The result is a behemoth and intrusive federal government, a constantly increasing dependency on government handouts, a stagnant economy, and a long period of declining American influence in world affairs. America is presently in bad shape and on a wayward course. In my view, America’s will continue to decline and, indeed, ultimately implode if it continues on the same course. To prevent this outcome, it is imperative that Americans, collectively as a nation and individually, restore respect for and fidelity to our founding principles, most importantly the rule of law as embodied in the original meaning of the Constitution and its amendments. No other candidate comes close to having the qualifications, the depth of constitutional knowledge, and the commitment to the American founding as Ted Cruz. If America is to survive as a reservoir of liberty, prosperity, and human dignity, it is crucial that we turn away from the errant path that we have been on too long and elect a man like Ted Cruz.