Why do I support conservative fiscal and judicial policies? Because they work. Ted Cruz, Senator from Texas, explains.
“The reason I’m a conservative is very simple,” he said. “Conservative policies work.” That is, he continued, fiscally conservative policies work for the 47 percent; they facilitate entrepreneurship, for example, and encourage people to chase economic mobility. Cruz, then, is calling for what he calls “opportunity conservatism.” What does that mean? “It means that conservatives should conceptualize and should articulate every domestic policy with a laser focus on easing the means of ascent,” he said.
When Democrats try to help people directly, as through an expanded safety net, they usually mean well, but “the problem is, it never, ever, ever works.” In fact, he said, Democratic policies “have wreaked devastation” on the very people they’re meant to help; he pointed to the rise in unemployment among Hispanics and African-Americans during Barack Obama’s first term as evidence. A state like Texas, he continued, should be an example to the rest of the country. It’s been run on limited-government lines a long time, and the result has been a thriving economy and relatively low unemployment.
Cruz offered, in other words, a ringing endorsement of the Texas model. But what was notable about his speech is that it offered a slightly different emphasis than the one Texans are used to hearing. Texas’s Republican leaders generally make the case for limited government on the grounds that limited government has the intrinsic virtue of maximizing freedom, or that it has to be pursued on behalf of the hard-working taxpayers. That’s how Rick Perry, for example, put it yesterday in his remarks to state legislators. Cruz’s message doesn’t conflict with that, but it does mark a shift in focus. He’s effectively saying that Republicans support limited government because they believe that’s what best creates opportunity, and therefore progress, for all Americans—including or especially the 47 percent, even if their politicians sometimes forget to mention it. Whether his party agrees with him is yet to be seen.