As the 2016 GOP Primaries come into view, less than 60 days until the Iowa Caucuses, one candidate has crafted an image of being the most consistent conservative candidate in the field. It would certainly be hard to find a candidate who is more in touch with the “talk radio” wing of the party than Ted Cruz, and he has tried hard to stake out a position as a conservative truth teller and man of principle in this primary. Despite his background in the Bush administration, he has had some success with this strategy. That being said, libertarians and conservatives deserve to know the whole story, and Cruz has had a series of flip flops on several important issues which may cause some to question the sincerity of his positions. Unfortunately the media has been very slow to report these facts, so I have compiled a short list of some (not all) of Ted Cruz’s greatest flip flops.
1. Allowing The States To Legalize Marijuana
Ted Cruz raised the eyebrows of many libertarians at CPAC 2015 when he told Sean Hannity that he supported allowing the states to legalize marijuana if the citizens of that state voted for it. This was a reversal of a position he had taken previously at the Texas Public Policy Conference in 2014. If you watch the video below, from 7:21-8:41 after joking about the ‘Colorado brownies’ the crowd had been provided with, Cruz argued that while “reasonable arguments” can be made about legalizing pot, the president ignored criminal laws by circumventing congress and telling the people to ignore the law. While the only explicit reference to the states in question was made in a joking manner, the line of logic most certainly applies to Obama’s decision regarding the two (now four) states where marijuana is legal recreationally, as they are in violation of the Controlled Substances Act. This was reflected in the media coverage of the remark, which was universally that Cruz had attacked Obama’s allowing of Washington and Colorado to enforce their own drug laws. Cruz made similar remarks in an interview with Reason Magazine, where Cruz called Obama’s refusal to enforce marijuana laws “dangerous to liberty”, and demanded that he go to congress instead of deciding to refuse to enforce the law. He claimed Obama’s approach to drug policy is to “announce that they will stop enforcing certain drug laws”, and said that was a “very dangerous precedent”.
2. Background Checks On Guns
While flip flopping on marijuana may strike some as a relatively minor and even predictable issue for somebody trying to bridge the gap between libertarians and conservatives, an issue where many may be shocked to find Cruz flip flopping is gun control. Though he threatened to filibuster any bill that strengthens federal background checks on the Senate Floor, in a Fox News Sunday interview he expressed a desire to improve the quality of the federal database by tightening loopholes surrounding localities not reporting mental health problems and criminal convictions. This stands in direct contrast to his pledge to vote against any expansion of gun control.
Trade Promotion Authority became a major topic in the Fall of 2015 and conservatives across the country reacted in disgust at the notion that we would grant Barack Obama exclusive powers over the trade agreement process. One of the people who was opposing conservatives on the issue was Ted Cruz, writing an Op-Ed alongside future house speaker Paul Ryan in support of the agreement. After seeing the outcry among grassroots conservatives across the country, however, Cruz quickly reversed his position, siding with conservatives against the President’s power. This flip flop is probably the most blatant on the list both in its clarity and appearance of political calculation, and it should cause all conservatives to question Cruz’s view of executive power.
4. Birthright Citizenship
Senator Cruz has come out against birthright citizenship in this campaign, arguing that it does not make sense on a policy level and that on a constitutional level it is questionable. As Megyn Kelly points out in the video below, this is a total reversal of his 2011 stance in favor of birthright citizenship. In 2011 Cruz stated that birthright citizenship was protected by the Constitution and the arguments against it were not very good. When confronted by Megyn Kelly on this blatant flip flop, Cruz avoided the issue. I have also included the clip of Cruz’s 2011 statement in its entirety.
5. Agriculture & Flood Insurance
Ted Cruz has often railed against government subsidies, and even hit rival Marco Rubio over his support of sugar subsidies during the Fox Business debate, but when his political interests are tied to subsidies he changes his tune. Cruz has been on the record both on the campaign trail and in Senate votes supporting agricultural insurance, arguing that there is a legitimate federal role in providing agriculture insurance. He has also voted in favor of national flood insurance, a program which disproportionately aids his coastal state. Cruz has certainly demonstrated a willingness to compromise his principles for political gain in the area of government subsidies.
6. Abolishing the TSA
When Ted Cruz ran for Senate one of the issues he ran on was abolishing the TSA. Cruz attracted libertarian support with this issue and used it very effectively to recruit Young Americans for Liberty activists to help his campaign. Unfortunately, Senator Cruz released his list of government agencies to eliminate, and the TSA was not on the list. Cruz’s campaign manager is also a co-founder of the Chertoff group, a group which profited from TSA body scanners, drawing questions as to his sincerity on this issue.
7. Government Stimulus
Ted Cruz has positioned himself as a vocal opponent of government waste, and a Republican who would not participate in bailouts. While representing the Texas Retired Teachers Association, Cruz argued that the one time payment from the stimulus program “will directly impact the economy in both the metropolitan and rural areas of Texas, and will directly further the greater purpose of economic recovery for America”. Though some will argue that his role as the attorney of this group mandated he argue on their behalf, a principled conservative would refuse to argue such a case, as it is directly contrary to their values. Cruz’s argument is disturbing coming from a man who wants to be commander in chief.
8. No Child Left Behind
Ted Cruz has positioned himself as a vocal opponent of Common Core, stating that education should be returned to states and localities. He has even stated he would support allowing school districts to opt out of No Child Left Behind. But in his essay, “The Rise Of Opportunity Conservatism”, Cruz wrote that “Some critics have objected to the increased federal money going to education, but the bill also requires testing of every child in third and eighth grades and requires schools to provide parents with detailed report cards of the school’s performance. . . . The focus is on accountability and results.”. In this essay, where Cruz also defended Bush as a very conservative president despite his spending record, the Bush insider turned presidential candidate outlines his affection for Bush’s “Opportunity conservatism” that would spawn the tea party due to its disregard for limits on big government.
9. John Roberts
Ted Cruz has taken a position as a staunch opponent of John Roberts in this campaign, even calling for his resignation over the Obamacare ruling. That being said, Cruz was a vocal supporter of John Roberts for many years, calling him a principled conservative and one of the most talented lawyers in the country. This manifested in an exchange where Jeb Bush managed to get the better of Cruz, calling him out for his support of John Roberts and exposing his flip flop.
10. HB1 Visas
Ted Cruz was a vocal supporter of expanding HB1 visas as recently as 2013, advocating for the expansion of these visas by 500%. He has argued for the expansion of these visas both on the Senate floor and in the media, but under pressure from Donald Trump for the votes of anti immigration Republicans, Cruz has now proposed that we suspend the program and investigate it for abuse. He says there is “report after report after report of big companies abusing the HB1 program”. His 180 on this issue is a direct result of the rise of Donald Trump, which seems to have made most of the Republican candidates go a little crazy.
As you can see, this so called “principled conservative” has numerous flip flops to explain if he wants to capture the Republican nomination. Cruz has several conservative skeletons in his closet that the media, for whatever reason, has not seemed interested in covering. But this information is out there for any rival to use against the Senator, and if I were involved in his campaign I would be very concerned about his record of flip flopping being used against him. The big question now is who will take advantage and expose Cruz’s act as a sham?