Ted Cruz

After Focusing on Social Conservatives, Can Cruz Appeal to Rand Paul's Liberty-Minded Voters?

The Iowa caucus winner recently backtracked on justice reform, Snowden.


Are they similar enough for Rand fans?
Credit: Gage Skidmore

Sen. Ted Cruz has graced Reason's cover in an analysis of his ambitiousness, his background, his rebelliousness, and the extent that there's a genuine libertarian streak to his positions and behavior. It's worth taking a look at where Cruz stands now on these matters, not just because he won the Iowa caucuses, but with the announcement today that Sen. Rand Paul is suspending his presidential campaign. When reporting Paul's campaign ending, the Wall Street Journal wonders in its lede whether Paul's voters will be breaking Cruz's way.

Paul and Cruz have not exactly been total allies, but they have worked together frequently. In the most recent debate, when Paul dinged Cruz for not being at the Senate to vote on Paul's "Audit the Fed" bill, Cruz responded that he supported it and would be more than happy to sign it when he was president. Cruz also showed up to support Paul's filibuster to stop the renewal of the part of the PATRIOT Act that authorized mass domestic surveillance (though Cruz differed from Paul by supporting the USA Freedom Act compromise, which Paul opposed because it didn't go far enough). Paul also showed up to assist Cruz's anti-Obamacare filibuster.

Recall that a few years ago, Cruz and Paul were lumped together as "Wacko Birds" by Sen. John McCain for not being good establishment conservatives and doing what they were told. But Cruz and Paul are not exactly "wacko birds" of a feather. Nick Gillespie recently decried "Cruz's Laughable Libertarian Pose" over at The Daily Beast, criticizing Cruz's militaristic foreign policy and anti-immigrant animus (and big spending promises). With Rand Paul perceived as more compromising to conservatives and less libertarian than his father, what does that make Cruz in the eyes of libertarian Republican voters?

Here are a few things libertarian Republicans may be chewing over about Cruz when considering where their vote might go (if it goes anywhere at all—staying home is an option, too):

  • Cruz seemed to have captured the evangelical conservative vote in Iowa, indeed bringing out a greater number of them to the caucuses (check out Stephanie Slade's turnout analysis here). Social conservative appeals to religion have played a major role in Cruz's campaign, and he is the most vocal of top candidates in opposition to same-sex marriage recognition. But even so, he promotes giving states authority to decide whether to recognize same-sex marriages, which is essentially the same position as Paul. But unlike Paul, Cruz is willing to bring aboard speakers to actually decry gay marriage as "evil" and "wicked" and to all but call for purges.
  • Cruz has flip-flopped, in a good way, on marijuana legalization. Cruz once criticized President Barack Obama for not demanding the Department of Justice crack down on Colorado and Washington to enforce the federal ban on marijuana use. Cruz has since embraced marijuana federalism, telling attendees at last year's Conservative Political Action Conference that he would let states go their own way, though he personally still opposes legalization.
  • Cruz has flip-flopped, in a bad way, on federal sentencing reform. As Jacob Sullum recently detailed, Cruz was an original co-sponsor of the Smarter Sentencing Act to reduce some federal drug penalties and loosen mandatory minimum sentencing in some drug cases, part of a bipartisan push for criminal justice reform. But now, a year later, he's apparently opposing sentencing reform, stoking fears that those who are released may commit new crimes.
  • After supporting reforms to restrict the federal government's authority to collect mass amounts of metadata from its own citizens, Cruz nevertheless characterized Edward Snowden as a "traitor." Sen. Marco Rubio, who supports pretty much letting the government collect whatever data it wants, has gone after Cruz and Paul in debates for calling for restraints in what the National Security Agency (NSA) may collect without getting a warrant. Cruz supported the passage of the USA Freedom Act, which curtailed the mass collection of all citizen cellphone metadata (but does give the NSA the authority to collect more specific information from phone companies themselves). It's very obvious that this law would never have come into play and the mass surveillance authorities of Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act would not have been allowed to expire had Snowden not leaked what the NSA was doing to the American public. Early on, while not excusing the illegality of what Snowden had done, he said it seemed likely that Snowden had "done a valuable public service by bringing it to light." Rubio used those comments to attack Cruz, prompting Cruz's campaign put out a statement in January saying that Snowden's actions had "materially aided terrorists" and that Snowden should be tried for treason.
  • Cruz takes some solid—even brave—positions against corporate subsides. Cruz won Iowa while getting attacked (particularly by Trump) for his call for scaling back and eventually eliminating ethanol subsides, which put him at odds with Iowa's powerful biofuel industry. It was important moment for fighting crony capitalism on the right. He was also an opponent of reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank, a cronyist and unneeded institution that uses taxpayer dollars to guarantee loans for major corporations like Boeing. He managed to infuriate the Republican establishment in the process.
  • Cruz, like establishment Republicans, doesn't think cutting spending and shrinking the government applies to the military and immigration enforcement. Cruz has voted against budget resolutions, arguing that we need "meaningful entitlement reform," but also calls for tripling the size of the U.S. border patrol and supports increased military spending.

That's a lot to consider. Establishment conservatives like McCain may see all these "tea party" insurgents the same way, but there are some significant differences between Paul and Cruz as candidates, especially when a libertarian is evaluating what they have to offer.

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  1. NO

    Next question.

    1. This is correct.

    2. My one conservative buddy thinks I should like Cruz, because of his tax plan.

      I then had to argue over whether or not the business flat tax was a VAT or not.

      1. So what does your conservative friend think about Rand? Let me guess, he thinks Rand is a liberal and wants the terrorists to win? I’m basing that guess on my own conservative friends.

        1. You got it, doesn’t like Rand’s foreign policy.

    3. The real question is any candidate other than Cruz trying to reduce the size and power of the federal government . The answer to that question absolutely not. If you want a smaller federal government and reduced ,even repealed federal regulations then Ted Cruz is the only choice.

    4. Rand supporters will almost certainly go to Cruz. And then they will go to whoever the ultimate GOP nominee is. And then they will keep whining about why the GOP keeps throwing libertarian ideas under the bus.

      Well DUH. If you don’t give enough of a crap about actual liberty and free markets to seriously vote on the issue without compromising it away, then why should the rest of the GOP give a crap about it?

  2. Yes, just not as many.

  3. No and why the hell would he need to?

    1. I doubt the fraction of the 3% that were Rand supporters who will vote for somebody else are going to change any outcomes, so . . . .

  4. You left out his eligibility problem.

  5. He was good on not bombing Libya and rejected attacking Assad.. that makes him the only one in the race that isn’t just enacting Saudi policy. Just saying.

    1. Trump is even more against that shit. It’s one of the main reasons the establishment hates them both

      1. The media have given Trump 8 times the coverage of any other candidate, they love him, he is their boy. If both candidates are big money, big government liberals then big money and big government cant lose.

  6. Cruz is like if Rand Paul had a baby with Mike Huckabee, with the Huckabee genes being dominant.

    1. A baby who looks like Huckabee but with really curly hair. That’s quite disturbing.

    2. Cruz is a pure politician. He is only libertarian to appeal to the small group of neo-confederates in the South. He is evangelical to appeal to the very big group of evangelicals in the South. And he understands that the only chance a Republican will ever have to win a national election is to win the South.

  7. He’ll appeal to them by being the least worst in the room. Not hard to do when the alternatives are Trump running as (Il Duce) , establishment Republicans, a harridan who wants to repeal the first two Amendments, and an old Commie.

    He can pay lip service to federalism and he’s it. I do think he believes in the Constitution and is less willing to ignore it than the others.

  8. In a word, no. Ted Cruz isn’t good enough for me, so I’ll be writing in Ron Paul. I would have voted for Gary Johnson, but he really let me down when he took tax money for campaign funding last time around.


    1. he really let me down when he took tax money for campaign funding

      You realize those are voluntary donations, right? I don’t see the libertarian purity problem with taking money from a pool of voluntary donations that happens to be administered by the government.

      1. Do you drive on government roads? IMPURE

    2. The bigger flaw for Johnson is suing under the Sherman Anti Trust Act. I can’t vote for him after that.

  9. After Focusing on Social Conservatives, Can Cruz Appeal to Rand Paul’s Liberty-Minded Voters?


    1. Yes he can, just not you.

      I’m a libertarian and will likely be supporting Cruz moving forward.

      This forum, while very informative and fun, can be a serious echo chamber from time to time and it’s probably one of the reason why I like John’s presence here as he challenges the groupthink that sometimes arises.

    2. Cruz will certainly be appealing to liberty-minded voters to support him, giving a nod and a wink I’m sure to the idea that, hey, you know those socons in Iowa I have to give them a little of the ol’ praise Jaysus lawnorder America fuck yeah! nonsense but just between you and me, you know I’m okay, so we’re cool, right? Well, no, that’s the whole damn problem – you’ll do or say whatever you think needs to be done or said to get elected and that makes you an unprincipled shitweasel just like the rest of ’em.

      1. Vote your conscience, I’m a big supporter if doing that.

        I genuinely think voting for Cruz will be a better use of my voice for Liberty than voting for a 3rd party.

        1. Really? Voting for someone who despises freedom will be a better use of your voice for Liberty than voting for someone who doesn’t?

  10. For the General, if it is Cruz or Rubio, I will vote for them over either Dem (sorry Gay Jay). I am still up in the air if Trump or Hillary would be worse. If it was Trump v Sanders, I may vote Gay Jay because I figure America won’t vote for Sanders, and there won’t be that many votes for the Libertarian. (And even if Sanders wins in that case he is so far out there, with a Republican (or at worse divided) Congress, I doubt he could get too much ridiculousness passed.)

    In terms of the primary, I am still going back and forth. I swore I would never vote for anyone else named Bush (or Clinton, but then again I have never voted for a Clinton, so that part was easy). No fracking way for Christie. Fiorina is cool, but she doesn’t have a chance. I was never big on Carson for president, and he is done anyway. Kasich never had a chance, and even if he did, if the NYT speaks positively of him, that can’t be good.

    Of the Rs left, that leaves the big three: Trump, Cruz and Rubio.

    1. –I was high on Cruz, but recently the stuff about criminal justice reform (and yes, Snowden) has made me sour. However, if a vacancy opens up, more likely to appoint a Scalia or possibly even a Thomas (as close to a libertarian justice as we will probably ever get), rather than a Roberts. I still think he will be somewhat restrained on foreign adventures (at least compared to the drone killing and smart bomb heaving of the last 7 years). Actually think Putin would respect him more than the others, so could let him negotiate from a position of strength (the best way to deal with Putin).

      –I know exactly what I am going to get with Rubio: a 2nd 1st Term GWB. Is that too bad? I don’t know. He certainly won’t be ending the WODs (not that ANY of them will). But he may be strong on trying to get rid of Obamacare. If he gets the chance, he may appoint a Scalia, or maybe a run of the mill Alito, rather than a Roberts, but who knows. Foreign adventures become a distinct possibility, however, I am hopeful that he learned from Iraq.

      –And then there’s Trump. Who the hell knows, but I won’t vote for him in the primary.

      1. “He certainly won’t be ending the WODs (not that ANY of them will).”

        Given Cruz’s “let the states decide” position on MJ legalization (and I hope to God he doesn’t end up flip-flopping on that), I’d like to think that he would least scale back the Drug War considerably.

      2. In Trump v Rubio v Cruz, I think I’d have to go Cruz.

        In a race of any of them v Hillary, I would go for any of them.

    2. “If it was Trump v Sanders, I may vote Gay Jay because I figure America won’t vote for Sanders, and there won’t be that many votes for the Libertarian. (And even if Sanders wins in that case he is so far out there, with a Republican (or at worse divided) Congress, I doubt he could get too much ridiculousness passed.)”

      I’m supporting Cruz, but this excerpt is almost exactly how I feel

  11. If Facebook and other reliable outlets are any indicator, the go-along, social-signaler lefties hate Trump, but the studious, true-believer progressives really, really hate Cruz. And I think it has more to do Cruz saying a few things in favor of fiscal restraint than the bible-thumping.

  12. At least Cruz is not as annoying as Rubio. He’s a good speaker, and you have to give him some kudos for winning Iowa while willing to drop ethanol subsidies. But then again, a Southern Baptist…

    1. I care a lot less about Southern Baptist than I do about former prosecutor, myself.

    2. Southern Baptist comes in a great many flavors. As you might expect from such a large denomination.

      1. Are there any SB churches that are okay on dancing? That’s what irked me about them. The wedding to my first wife was at a Baptist church in the northern Texas boondocks… they were strict about their no-dancing rule, and as a result our reception was boring as fuck. Even when the DJ played something that just had a remotely danceable beat, the elders reminded him of the rule. That was generally one of those things that fueled my antagonization of social cons.

        1. My grandfather was a pastor (on again off again retired) of 3 different churches and I’ve been a SB all my life, I have never attended a church that had a no dancing rule. I mean, it’s not like I saw anyone wanting to dance during service, but my cousins wedding was at a large SB church and they had a huge area set aside for dancing and the youth at the church I grew up in had many skits and plays that involved dancing. Just odd to hear that there are actual churchs that behave like they were in ‘Dirty Dancing’.

  13. Seems obvious to me that Cruz is the best of the GOP pack.

    So, vote libertarian and then cheer for Cruz over Hillary because Hillary is even worse.

    Or, cheer for Hillary because it means divided government.

    But honestly, wouldn’t you rather that Cruz were nominating the next batch of Justices? “I hate gays” translates into civil liberty for bakers at this point in time.

    1. vote libertarian and then cheer for Cruz over Hillary because Hillary is even worse.

      That’s pretty much what I plan on doing.

      Actually, I’m seriously considering photocopying my middle finger over the mail in ballot and sending that in.

  14. No, as the WSJ’s Holman Jenkins explains:

    Mr. Trump is a political harbinger here of a new strand of populist Republicanism, largely empowered by ObamaCare, in which the “conservative” position is to defend the existing entitlement programs from a perceived threat posed by a new-style Obama coalition of handout seekers that includes the chronically unemployed, students, immigrants, minorities and women.

    Most Republicans share [Cruz’s]opposition to ObamaCare and his rhetorical commitment to repeal?but because they think ObamaCare is bad policy and are convinced Republicans have better approaches to health-care reform.

    The tea party animus toward ObamaCare is something different: Implicitly, such means-tested new entitlements that benefit working-age folks and people (read minorities) who typically vote Democrat are viewed as a threat to the traditional, universal, “earned,” middle-class retirement programs of Social Security and Medicare.

    Mr. Obama didn’t help himself, in his phony-baloney budgeting for ObamaCare, when he specified in 2010 that his new benefit program would be financed by cuts to Medicare.

    Not only did Mr. Cruz live to fight another day. The unspoken tea party stance of defending the good old-fashioned entitlements of “real” Americans is increasingly, in dog-whistle terms, what differentiates one Republican from another.

    1. such means-tested new entitlements that benefit working-age folks and people (read minorities) who typically vote Democrat are viewed as a threat to the traditional, universal, “earned,” middle-class retirement programs of Social Security and Medicare.

      Nice of him to work in the TP is racist angle.

      He could have easily made the same point this way:

      such costly means-tested new entitlements that benefit working-age folks and people (read minorities) who typically vote Democrat are viewed as a threat to the traditional, universal, “earned,” middle-class retirement programs of Social Security and Medicare.

      1. “Dog whistle” is a dog whistle term for “those people”. You know, the people you have absolutely no evidence they’re implying what you’re inferring but we all know better, right? So you can just make up whatever sorts of slurs you want about them and point to the fact that they’re doing and saying the exact opposite of what you’re accusing them of as evidence not only that they’re guilty but that they’re lying about being guilty. Look at Cruz – I mean the guy wears cowboy boots, otherwise known as “shit-kickers”, which is just a euphemism for “spic-kickers” so we all know Ted Cruz hates Hispanics and wants all the other Hispanic-haters to know he’s a Hispanic hater, too. Oh sure, Cruz may claim he doesn’t hate Hispanics, but how can you trust a guy who isn’t upfront about his hatred of Hispanics but instead has to go around wearing cowboy boots to secretly signal his hatred? Huh? You can’t argue with that kind of logic can you? Didn’t think so.

  15. I will not be voting for him or any other candudate from the two parties.

  16. Probably only under some “not as bad as others” argument.

  17. Snowden would be a hero if he had surrendered for prosecution. He did sign the secrecy papers. As it is he is a heroic traitor.

  18. just before I saw the receipt that said $7527 , I accept that my mom in-law woz like actualey making money in there spare time from there pretty old laptop. . there aunt had bean doing this for less than twentey months and at present cleared the depts on there appartment and bourt a great new Citro?n 2CV . look here…….
    Clik This Link inYour Browser.
    ???????? http://qr.net/bvXsV

    1. Functionally illiterate, this one is.

  19. Sorry, but Libertarian Republicans are already supporting Ted Cruz. This is why Rand wasn’t getting much support and had to drop out.

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