Speak for Thee, Not for Me

Earlier this week, Ted Cruz, US Senator from Texas, titled at windmills in a ego-driven, 21 hour “speech” on the Senate floor. Cruz claimed he was speaking for 26 million Texans and 300 million Americans as he vowed to stand until he was no longer able. How noble and brave! Here’s a man willing to withstand Sen. Harry Reid’s glare, fight a raging bladder and dry mouth as his suit wrinkles, and speak into the empty Senate chambers, fighting an oppressive government while trying to impose his will anyone who disagrees with him!

As a Texan born and bred, let me first say, unequivocally, that Ted Cruz does not speak for me. He’s down to speaking for 25,999,9999. Give or take a newborn or recently deceased.

But, in fact, Cruz isn’t even speaking for 26 million minus one Texans or 300 million Americans and I wish the media would call him on this hyperbolic claim.

Let’s look at the numbers:

Ted Cruz, for those unfamiliar with Texas politics, didn’t even win the Republican primary in 2012. David Dewhurst won the primary with about 625,000 votes to Cruz’s 425,000. Because neither man had the 50% majority, we went to a runoff, a runoff Cruz won with a mere 631,316 votes.

While Cruz did win the Senate seat in the general election with 56% of the vote, that translates to a relatively small 4,469,843 votes, far short of 26 million. In fact, I’m no math whiz, but I’m pretty sure that means Cruz only represents about 16% of Texans. More to the point, of course, is that a little over 3 million people voted against Cruz and, while it might be inconvenient to point out to Senator Cruz, during the presidential election of 2012 those same 3 million voters plus some cast ballots for Barack Obama.

Essentially, 84% of the Texas voting population (that’s about 21 million people) didn’t vote for Ted Cruz.

Obviously, Senator Cruz is welcome to assume their apathy is a sign of support, but I’m guessing the 6.3 million uninsured Texans wish Cruz would give them a call before he claims to speak for them.

If we move outside the great state of Texas, Cruz’ claim that he is the mouthpiece of America becomes even harder to swallow.

I realize that Republican’s can’t seem to accept that a little more than 61 million Americans voted for President Obama, but you would think that a Harvard man such as Ted Cruz would realize that if there are 300 million voters and 61 million voted for Obama then, at most, he can only speak for around 240 million.

Don’t get me wrong, 240 million people is a still a lot of people. If there were 300 million voters in America. And they all agreed with Ted Cruz.

There are, according to the Census data, only about 206 million voters.

And they don’t all agree with Ted Cruz. (See the election results from 2012.)

While I will admit the polling data is all over the place with regards to the Affordable Care Act, almost every poll shows somewhere between 35-57% of the country supports Obamacare, 35-57% want parts of it repealed, and around 115% don’t understand a darn thing about the plan. (I made that last number up, in case anyone was worried.) The only thing consistent about the polling data is that it changes every day.

A big part of that uncertainty, of course, is because the Republicans like Senator Cruz have spent two years trying to repeal, obfuscate, and obstruct implementation. They are perfecting the toddler strategy–scream and holler in the check out line and eventually you might get your way. They demand, for instance, President Obama compromise by doing exactly what they want. Or they will hold their breath and shut down the government.

While Mr. Cruz does not speak for me, I do agree that we should, as he noted yesterday in his video conference at the Texas Tribune Festival yesterday, “allow people to buy insurance across state lines to create a ‘true national marketplace’ and delink health insurance from jobs.”

Of course, Mr. Cruz also notes the “best way for them [the uninsured] to get health insurance is to get a good-paying job.” And we wonder why we are confused. On the one hand, our champion of free enterprise and limited government supports the basic tenets of the Affordable Care Act and wants to delink insurance from jobs while telling the uninsured to get a good job with insurance.

Because all those people without insurance enjoy low paying, minimum wage jobs with no benefits. They’ve just chosen not to have a job that pays well.

This is the same man, though, who read Green Eggs and Ham, a Dr. Seuss book about trying new things, while telling us we shouldn’t try this new thing.


I fully support Mr. Cruz’s willingness and right to take a principled stand against what might seem like a government take-over of insurance. I have my own doubts about how effective these programs can be run and I have some serious reservations about requiring insurance.

But I also recognize that our current system does not work. Around 45 million Americans lack insurance. They are too often one cough or one lump away from economic disaster and bankruptcy. Medical costs must be reigned in and we simply must provide access to adequate health care. The Affordable Care Act at least gets use started.

Mr. Cruz has the right, and one might even say, the obligation, to rise in principled opposition.

But he should at least admit that he does so for himself and leave the other 299.999 million of us out of it.


About John Wegner
John Wegner is a Professor of English where he also serves as the Dean of the Freshman College. He and Lana, his wife, have been married over 25 years. They are the parents of two great sons who (so far) haven't ever needed bail money.

One Response to Speak for Thee, Not for Me

  1. Pingback: A Peek At February 6, 2017 | rational politics

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