This morning, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) spoke to the Values Voters Summit, and his speech was really weird. It’s like he’s living on another planet.
On Planet Cruz, there is a massive outpouring of public support for a government shutdown over Obamacare and it’s scaring the hell out of Democrats.
Read how Cruz describes the view from his corner of the universe:
The nice thing is the left will always, always, always tell you who they fear. And they fear you. They fear the American people.
The fundamental problem in Washington is Washington is not listening to America. And what happens? This fight on Obamacare, we went and made the case to the American people, launched a national website: dontfundit.com. In a matter of just a few weeks, over 2 million Americans signed that petition on dontfundit.com.
It is because of you that the House of Representatives has been standing strong because the House has been listening to the people. It is because of you that for the past two months, the country is engaged in a national debate about the enormous harms Obamacare is causing, all of the millions of Americans who are losing their jobs, being pushed into part-time work, losing their health insurance. It is because of you that the American people are energized.
And we see the Obama administration defending positions that are utterly and completely unreasonable. Repeatedly the House of Representatives has acted to compromise, to fund vital priorities, and repeatedly President Obama and the Democrats have refused to negotiate.
Now I will note this afternoon — look, the Democrats are feeling the heat…
Listen, none of us know what’s going to happen on this Obamacare fight right now. In my view, the House of Representatives needs to keep doing what it’s been doing, which is standing strong. And that is the model for every other fight. We need no more Washington solutions. We need to go back to the American people.
Meanwhile, back on planet earth, the public hates the shutdown, Americans are 20 points more likely to blame Republicans for the shutdown than Obama, the Republican Party is scoring its worst poll numbers on record, Cruz’s colleagues in the House and Senate hate him, and they’re preparing to cave to the president by reopening the government and funding Obamacare.
Cruz is betting that his supporters are too stupid to notice that his strategy is failing and was doomed to fail. He’s probably right.
Lots of people thought that when Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election after months of conservatives proclaiming that the polls were “skewed” and he was on course to win, the party’s base might start to evaluate whether it misunderstood the world around it.
Remarkably, conservative delusion about facts on the ground is more intense than ever. The appetite for stories like the one Cruz is telling is unending, impervious to facts and sustainable no matter how far the Republican Party’s poll numbers fall.
When constituencies become aggrieved minorities, seeing themselves as under attack by the establishment, they are vulnerable to hucksters like Cruz, because they disregard outside warnings and evidence that they are being had.
Usually, you see this on a smaller scale: Ohio’s economically depressed Mahoning Valley sending Jim Traficant (D) to Congress for two decades even though he was obviously a corrupt politician with a mental disorder; New Orleans re-electing Bill Jefferson (D) to Congress after the FBI raided his home and found $US90,000 in cash in his freezer, because maybe there was a perfectly good explanation for how it got there.
What’s unprecedented about Cruz and similar Tea Party Republicans who make up about a third of the House Republican conference is that the aggrieved localised minority has gone national. Republicans once thought Fox News and the conservative media bubble were strategic advantages that allowed them to coordinate messages and organise voters; instead, they have allowed Republican voters to remain unaware that their favourite politicians are lying to them and alienating the median voter.
Losing one election wasn’t nearly enough to wake Republican voters up to this problem. Ted Cruz isn’t alone on his strange planet; much of the Republican Party is right there with him. And that’s likely to be true for a long time.
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