If you thought right-wing politicos couldn't get any goofier, take a peek at Texas on "Cruz Control."
Ted Cruz is America's latest tea party darling, having just pulled off a political contortion in Texas that few would've thought humanly possible: He got to the right of Gov. Rick Perry! The "Oops" governor is himself a former tea party darling who's such a far-out know-nothing that he's renowned for putting the goober in gubernatorial. By the time of last week's Republican runoff election in Texas, however, Cruz had squinched himself Houdini-like into even farther-out political positions than Perry has taken, thus wowing the tealeaf crowd and defeating the guy whom Perry was backing to be the Party's nominee for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
How far out is he? One of the white-hot talking points Cruz used to fire-up the narrow extremists who now control the Texas GOP is that he will, by God, defend America's golf courses! You might not have realized that golf course defense is a burning national issue crying out for the attention of U.S. senators, but such keen vigilance on even the most unimaginable threats to our nation is the kind of stuff that makes Cruz a tea party fave.
Defend golf courses against what, you ask? Not turf rot, rampaging moles or those bothersome environmentalists, but against that old right-wing bugaboo: the United Nations. "Stop Agenda 21," cries Cruz in an alert posted prominently on his campaign website, even taking this war whoop onto talk radio and TV, including an enlightening appearance with the always thoughtful Glenn Beck. Agenda 21 is a 20-year-old innocuous and nonbinding UN resolution (agreed to by then-President George Bush the First). It encourages governments to develop plans for sustainable development of "open spaces" — and that's what rubs Ted raw. Open space, you see, includes golf courses.
To the barricades, patriots! Grab your putters and mashies and rush to your local links, for the UN is coming over yon hill!
To double-down on his political wackiness creds, Cruz notes ominously (and falsely), "The originator of this grand scheme is George Soros." Doubling-down yet again, Cruz adds (also falsely) that the hobgoblin Soros is a socialist devil who believes in "eliminating national sovereignty and private property."
Thus, he concludes, "The real question is will we have senators in Washington who will take steps to stop this nonsense..." Yes, Ted, right back at you. We need some sane senators who'll stop the nonsense and start dealing honestly with America's real problems.
Unfortunately, golf goofiness is not the only nonsense this guy embraces. He's also a Social Security privatizer, a "tenther," a turn-'em-loose front man for Big Oil, an opponent of extending unemployment benefits to America's jobless millions, a die-hard champion of deregulating Wall Street greed (his wife, coincidentally, is a top regional executive for Goldman Sachs), a regressive flat-tax acolyte and a shameless promoter of the anti-Islam poppycock that the stealthy spread of Sharia law is "an enormous problem" in the U.S.
Nonetheless, Cruz did win and is now celebrated as "the people's choice" in Texas, having piled up a whopping 57 percent of the vote last week. The media reported this as politically earthshaking, blaring that "high turnout" by tea partiers created a "surge at the polls" that carried Cruz to his "huge" win. The Lone Star result, concluded many pundits, shows that the people want candidates aligned with "tea party values."
Hog poop. The "big story" in politics often is not the one trumpeted by the myopic media and political cognoscenti, but the one they don't report at all. In the Cruz case, we should step back from the hyped results, take a deep breath and look at two big, honking, neon-lit numbers that reveal a stunning truth about the state of our democratic process. First: 631,316. That's how small the actual vote was for Cruz and his whole kit and caboodle of far-right-wing balderdash. Next: 15,915,758. That's how many eligible voters there are in the state.
Do the math (which the media failed to do), and the real story turns out to be that Cruz is the choice of no more than 4 percent of the voters of Texas.
This is what America's politics has become: so empty and asinine that a guy wins a nomination to a U.S. senate seat with a pathetic 4 percent of the vote — and then is hailed as the choice of "the people."
To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.