Given the recent departure from the Republican presidential field of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, a unique blend of conservatism and libertarianism, the “liberty vote” as a discrete bloc has been thrown up for grabs. Senator Paul did admirably to embody the liberty movement, but his fresh absence leaves the venerable group in political limbo.
However, no current Republicans deserve the devotion of the liberty bloc, and despite what he might say, Ted Cruz certainly has no claim to it.
Senator Cruz, a freshman from Texas, has captured the attention of a large portion of the conservative electorate. He was able to do so by wedding himself to recitation and articulation of his views on the Constitution, which he believes informs his understanding of the proper and legitimate purview of government.
“Senator Paul did admirably to embody the liberty movement, but his fresh absence leaves the venerable group in political limbo.”
Certainly Senator Cruz posits small government arguments, but his wavering and fragile libertarian bones fractured when key policy stances threatened his lofty political aspirations.
I have a good deal of respect for Senator Cruz and his small government credentials, but when it comes to liberty, his inconsistency in vital matters is worrisome.
When a vote to audit the Federal Reserve, a crony institution responsible for a number of American recessions and the degradation of the value of the American dollar, arose in the Senate, Cruz instead opted to campaign in New Hampshire. He claims that he recognized the futility of the bill, in essence abandoning any fight to win those senators whose mind could be changed.
He deserted liberty because he believed it to be a futile endeavor. And though he might employ some platitude about how he looks forward to signing the Audit the Fed bill as president, the fact remains that Cruz had a viable and tangible opportunity to fight for increased transparency and economic freedom, but failed to show up when it mattered. Instead, he chooses to use vapid and empty promises of future support when he could have chose present, concrete reinforcement.
On other issues, Cruz betrays his ostensible libertarian streak. He poses an amorphous foreign policy that revolves around carpet-bombing the Middle East, inherently suggesting that effective strategy is to compound the mistakes of the past wherein American forces toppled regimes, participated in foreign civil wars, and sought to impose democracy. At the obvious expense of innocent human life, Cruz promises to “make the sand glow,” a statement rife with bellicosity not befitting of libertarian ethics.
Additionally, Cruz has displayed inconsistency on ethanol fuel mandates. Rather than irrevocably condemning such mandates as quasi-subsidies that reinforce our political culture of cronyism, Cruz has vacillated on the issue a number of times, primarily because the economy of Iowa, the first distributor of delegates in the presidential primary, is sustained by farming, an industry bolstered by the fuel mandate.
“At the obvious expense of innocent human life, Cruz promises to ‘make the sand glow,’ a statement rife with bellicosity not befitting of libertarian ethics.”
Crony capitalism constitutes a nefarious portion of government. Enabled by the overwhelming size of the bureaucracy and the number of administrative positions able to influence it, special interests invade the system and demand privileged treatment. However, the golden rule of government is that it cannot perform one action beneficial to a faction beyond basic protection of life, liberty, and property without inherently harming some other faction. Any action that government takes to benefit one group of interests inevitably detriments a different group of interests, which betrays notions of proper governance within a framework of the desirability of small government.
Therefore, actions by government to bolster one particular industry arrive at the expense of another industry. Indeed, Bastiat’s broken window theory applies on a large scale: it may seem at first glance that breaking a window stimulates economic activity and is therefore beneficial, but in reality, he whose window was broken is now deprived of the amount needed to repair the window, which would have been used for consumption of a different product. It is an economic shortsightedness that prevents one from seeing this.
Ethanol subsidies operate in much the same vein: they bolster one industry, the production of ethanol, and inherently discourage innovation by encouraging commitment to a subsidized form of production.
A candidate who fails to decry crony capitalism for political expediency cannot claim to be the standard bearer for the liberty movement.
Senator Cruz owns admirable policy positions. He possesses a nuanced familiarity with the Constitution, especially as it relates to establishing a small national government. However, at times, his devotion to the principle has been overridden by his self-interest.
And if there is one situation in which liberty will not guide one’s actions, it is when those actions seek to consolidate increased political prestige and power.