Cruz Missile

Last week Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican, announced that he was running for President.  He consciously chose a venue and a topic that would help to define his campaign:  the speech was given at Liberty University, described as the largest Christian university in the world, and his speech was styled as being about liberty itself. In his announcement speech, Cruz staked out the unabashedly conservative position (or the far-right position, depending on your political perspective) on a number of issues.  He wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, for example, and he’s against Common Core and wants to abolish the IRS.  Although Cruz is the first to announce his candidacy, the Republican field is expected to be crowded.  Other potential candidates include former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio, as well as Dr. Ben Carson and Donald Trump.  With President Obama ending his second term, other Republican hopefuls may be tempted to throw their hats into the ring. I’m glad Cruz has declared — not because I agree with his politics, but because I think we as a country would be well-served by a thorough airing of different positions on the issues of the day.  Cruz, and other anticipated Republican candidates, no doubt will present the various conservative and libertarian positions on the issues in a forceful way.  I’m hopeful that, on the Democratic side, too, potential candidates forget about the concept of Hillary Clinton and her inevitability and enter the race so that competing perspectives at the other end of the political spectrum also are thoughtfully explained and advanced. Elections should be contests of ideas, not coronations.  When candidates meaningfully joust about policy proposals they can expose flaws and sharpen concepts, as well as present voters with real choices.  But elections also are about the candidates themselves and their baskets of resumes, skills, and personal characteristics, evaluated in the context of the issues of the day.  I wonder whether, in our increasingly dangerous world, 2016 voters will be looking for a candidate with more experience, who is perceived as having a steady hand and sober judgment, to succeed a President who was elected as a first-term Senator?  If so, Cruz — a first-term Senator himself who was elected only three years ago, and whose resume includes playing an instrumental role in bringing about an ill-advised governmental shutdown that left Republicans with egg on their faces — will be out of luck.