After Ted Cruz trounced his opponent in Tuesday’s Republican primary in Texas, the Cuban-American politician rode into his hometown of Houston on a donkey while women lay palms at his feet and men discharged their shotguns.
Well, not quite.
Much is being made of the former Texas solicitor general’s victory over distinguished statesman and Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst.
The loser was backed by Texas Governor Rick Perry, which means the Republican establishment has been dealt a double blow, both in Texas and nationwide. Cruz, if you haven’t heard by now, is the “Tea Party candidate” in the race — a term which usually means a candidate who holds the same ideological beliefs that nearly all Republicans do, but who is fanatical in their unwillingness to compromise. The same definition sticks for Cruz. (Don’t believe it? It’s practically the message he campaigned on.)
Latinos are supposed to be celebrating the fact that, by the time 2013 rolls around, there will be three Latino senators in Congress. Yet it’s difficult to blow up balloons and hang streamers while knowing that two of the senators are Marco Rubio of Florida and soon-to-be Ted Cruz of Texas.
As the Los Angeles Times rightly describes, Cruz’s win on Tuesday is “a victory for gridlock”:
“Congress, and in particular the Senate with its rules that prevent the majority from running roughshod over the minority, is a deliberative body in which neither party typically has the strong majority needed to run matters, making compromise essential. Without it, you get a Congress that argues endlessly while accomplishing nothing. Apparently, it is the hope of tea-party conservatives that their movement will become so strong that it will sweep away not only establishment Republicans, but the Democrats who would stand up against them. That isn’t going to happen.”
Nonetheless, Cruz indeed gives Latinos plenty reason to tip their hats. He’s smart, a graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law; he’s experienced, a one-time clerk for chief justice of the United States and the former solicitor general of Texas; he’s young, only 41; and he’s quickly becoming one of the better known politicians on the national stage before he even takes his Senate seat.
But there are also many other Latino politicians who can match wits and résumé with Cruz, yet who aren’t uncompromising government-butchers — just look in the mayor’s office in nearby San Antonio.
State Senator Trey Martínez of Texas underlined the issue precisely when he made a distinction between politicians for the Latino community and politicians who just happen to be Latino.
Cruz — and Rubio, definitely Rubio — clearly falls in the latter category.