I believe that there are a lot of things we do in life not because they will be fun, but just because we want to say we did them. For me, one of those things ended up being attending a local Ted Cruz rally last week (March 14, 2016) with a few of my friends.
Before this, my friends and I had never been to any sort of political rally. This was certainly an interesting choice to be our first. Supporters in the crowd wore election-themed shirts and fervently waved posters in the air. Among the messages portrayed through this medium were, "restore integrity," "raised right," and "Hillary for prison 2016." It felt like we were perhaps the only onlookers who forgot to purchase weirdly politically driven products from the warped right-wing section of Etsy.
Before Cruz took the stage, a local organizer spoke and made a somewhat pretentious comparison between Cruz and the last Presidential candidate to visit this city, one Ronald Reagan. When Cruz himself finally arrived, his first words spoken were, "God bless the great state of Illinois!" (I was like, lolz, while you're talking to Him, can you ask Him to make our governor give us a budget so our schools get money?)
He continued by making the first of a whole night full of broad statements with seemingly no evidentiary support or research. Aiming for the younger people in the crowd, he brought up student loans and other worries of today's college students, but made no solid promises. He then went straight for the kill by attacking President Obama's policies without reserve. "If I'm elected President, we will repeal every word of Obamacare." The crowd cheered, enthusiastically. Thus began his stringing of empty promises like beads on a bracelet. "We will pass a simple flat tax, where every American can fill out their taxes on a postcard. [...] We will secure the borders. [...] We will end welfare." But HOW? I questioned, to no avail.
Cruz then went back to criticizing our current President, calling him weak and guilty of abandoning friends and allies. According to Cruz, he will (contrastingly) refuse to be moderate between Israel and Palestine. "America will stand unapologetically with the state of Israel," he said. Almost immediately, everyone in the room was on their feet, clapping, whooping, and hollering.
I thought it couldn't get more off-kilter, but then he went back at it with the Reagan comparisons.
- Cut taxes
- Lift regulations
- Use that money to rebuild military
- Bankrupt Soviet Union
- Win Cold War
Continuing, he said he too wanted to rebuild the military. What does this even mean? My friends and I wondered. I'm still not sure because, according to Business Insider, America already spends over 600 billion dollars on our military, which is more than the next seven highest-spending countries combined.
He ended with what I thought was maybe the silliest thing he'd said the entire night. "It took Jimmy Carter to give us Ronald Reagan," he said, "and I am convinced the most long-lasting legacy of Barack Obama is going to be a new generation of leaders in the Republican party who stand and fight for freedom."
"You tell 'em, Teddy," a man yelled from the audience.
After the rally was over, I immediately asked my friends (two of whom can and did vote, while the other is still too young) what they were thinking. My best friend, a young WoC, said, "It was just a bunch of white people. I felt really uncomfortable." Her discomfort was not without reason. The city where the rally was held is very diverse, but, when trying to estimate the number of people of color in the audience, we concluded that there were maybe around ten (we had all spent a significant amount of time during the rally scanning the crowd) out of at least over three hundred. So, despite the city's diverse population, Cruz could really only attract white voters.
Significantly, my younger friend who had no political opinions whatsoever going into the rally also felt a certain amount of frustration with Cruz. "He was promising a lot of big things that he might not be able to follow through," she said.
Yet, what we all agreed was Cruz's biggest problem was what bothered my best friend so much: his lack of support from people of color. Not only were these voters not present in person at the rally, they were absent from Cruz's concern and ideology. His refusal to acknowledge the deep-rooted racial issues in this country does not solve any problems; it only waters the soil which nourishes these roots-- it divides the nation. "The country's divided enough. We don't need someone who's going to continually divide us," said my Sanders-loving friend.
Of course, this is the plain and simple truth. In some way, Cruz thinks this to be the truth too. He thinks we need another Ronald Reagan, and he thinks that's exactly what he is.
Well, I hate to break it to you, Ted Cruz, but you're no Ronald Reagan. Even so, we don't need another Ronald Reagan in the White House; we need a President that will continue to progress social issues for the greater good of our society, one who connects with young people through social media and has a genuine ability to reach out to minorities and ease the racial tensions plaguing America. If not, we will be more divided than ever.
Mr. Cruz, if you're reading this, I am convinced that this divisiveness would surely be the most long-lasting legacy of a Ted Cruz Presidency.