The shocking headline is not click-bait. Barack Obama led the Democratic Party to a lopsided victory over the reigns of federal power in 2008, and though Congress is no longer his, Obama has never let the bit slacken in his quest for a fundamentally changed America.
I’ll get to Cruz in a bit, but first…
Donald Trump likes to refer to Obama and his hand-picked political appointees as incompetent, because they refuse to close our borders, refuse to destroy ISIS, negotiate dangerous deals with outlaw regimes like Iran, and gut the military. That’s one opinion shared by many, and even allowed some leeway by the media.
The left-leaning media would rather discuss Obama’s effectiveness as a function of his competence than his agenda as a function of his motivation. The motivation, however, is exactly what drives the president to do what he has done. With majorities in both houses, Obama left gun control off the agenda, let gay marriage be adjudicated in the Supreme Court, let immigration fester without directly addressing it, and focused on health care.
I rather agree with Dinesh D’Souza’s characterization of Obama: A calculating idealist, whose ideals and motivations are so out of step with most Americans that they don’t realize the degree to which he wishes to reshape the country. D’Souza sees himself as an American Solzhenitsyn–a dissident jailed on tenuous charges for his political insight. From Andrew McCarthy:
Progressives, he now perceives, are engaged in a massive scheme to “steal America,” meaning all of its wealth and traditions. Their ideas and the foibles of their interest-group politics are often incoherent because they are not actually meant to cohere. They are, instead, a Machiavellian ploy, a pretense to morality (because the public expects it) that camouflages the remorseless acquisition of power needed to rob the public blind.
Not all Democrats are progressives (in fact, most are simply opportunistic pragmatics who play pork-barrel politics and victim cards to stay in power). And not all progressives are committed idealists like Obama.
But Obama grew up in the epicenter of Saul Ailinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” days–the heady academic, elite anti-colonialist movement that kept young Barry awake nights toking and talking with his Punahou pals. Obama is a dyed-in-the-wool Ailinskyite, whose Bible is that book which begins by quoting Job 7:1 “The life of man upon earth is a warfare…”
What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be. The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away.
Two things emerge from reading Rules for Radicals: “An organizer working in and for an open society…is a political relativist.” And “It is a world not of angels but of angles, where men speak of moral principles but act on power principles.” Obama picks his battles–ones he can win without disturbing the power bases who could stop him cold. That’s the primary reason he’s been so effective in advancing the progressive agenda for over 7 years (despite 5 years of varying degrees of GOP Congressional control).
And now on to Ted Cruz.
Cruz is the real deal, a dyed-in-the-wool conservative who believes that the Constitution was drafted to mean what it says in the founders’ original words. He believes that the founders were men of conviction, faith, and calling–that those men believed in a loving, eternal, creative, personal and all-powerful God.
The senator’s Bible is the actual 66 books of the Old and New Testaments. Cruz believes that the morality that informs his politics is the original and authentic mores that informed the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. That’s two legs of a three-legged stool: Bible and Constitution.
The third leg is an abiding belief in the ability of people, so inculcated in the values which founded and built America, to guide the country with as little interference as possible from those who govern it. In this belief, Cruz has much in common with Ailinsky.
Believing in people, the radical has the job of organizing them so they will have the power and opportunity to best meet each unforeseeable future crisis as they move ahead in their eternal search for those values of equality, justice, freedom, peace, a deep concern for the preciousness of human life, and all those rights and values propounded by Judaeo-Christianity and the democratic political tradition. Democracy is not an end but the best means toward achieving those values. This is my credo for which I live and, if need be, die.
Replace a few key words here and you’ve got the difference between Obama and Cruz. To a Christian, there is no eternal search for values: They are contained in God’s Word. Jesus was a radical, all right, but his radicalness was in taking God’s commandments and promises from those who made them a burden to effecting them in the flesh, by dying and rising for mankind. Jesus was not sent to organize anyone.
Absent an absolute, transcendent, fixed point of moral reference upon which to guide society, radicals must come to organize around values using power, persuasion, hope and change. This is Obama’s world–and as he sees America’s place in it, that’s where he’s leading us (many of us kicking and screaming).
But if the Shining City on a Hill is more than just Reagan’s weepy rhetoric, it was first spoken by Jesus:
‘You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.’
I don’t know Ted Cruz personally, and I’ve only met him a handful of times at campaign events; it’s likely those meetings are totally forgettable for a man who has met thousands and thousands in this way. But the look I saw in his eyes was not forgettable. It was the intensity of a man driven by a vision and a calling.
Most politicians see an injustice or a problem and think they can solve it better, so they enter politics. Or they’re smart people who are persuaded that public service would help them change people’s lives for the better, so they run for office. Once there, they’re softened by the camaraderie of others who’ve also endured the hardships of campaigning and winning. Politics becomes a job, and the original reasons for entering public service become a cold, dim dot of light which provides neither light nor heat (except during campaign speeches, television ads and mail pieces).
Cruz has never lost his calling–he keeps it bright and hot–politics be damned (and many damn him for it). It’s why he fights to the last man, often staying late after rallies to answer every question in detail. It’s why he’s not fazed at all by attacks on his character, or even his daughters, and responds in good cheer. Cruz is not fighting for himself, the cause is bigger than himself.
And that’s what scares the “professionals” and consultants most.
Obama is uncompromising and driven also, but his lack of a clear moral objective other than organizing for change–radical change–has allowed establishment-types to latch on to his wagon. In the end, Obama betrayed them all, because his cause is larger than himself, and power is only a means to his ends. He’s an Ailinskyite to the core.
Cruz is like Obama in this key respect: should he gain the Oval Office, he will be a very effective president*, with laser-clear goals. Those who don’t agree with Cruz’s goals of restoring the Constitution to law, the Bible to morality, and the citizen to power, will stop at nothing to keep him from attaining them.
*Those who reject the notion that Obama has been an effective president should go back and see D’Souza’s film “2016: Obama’s America” and tell me how it’s wrong.