For years now, stories have come out about how all of Congress hates Senator Ted Cruz. Former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner called Cruz "Lucifer in the flesh" and a "miserable son of a bitch." He’s despised on both sides of the aisle, with Democratic Senator Al Franken this year stating in his book, "I like Ted Cruz more than most of my other colleagues like Ted Cruz. And I hate Ted Cruz."
Clearly, this guy rubs a lot of his peers the wrong way. Recently, he demonstrated one of his typically back-handed moves that just creates jaw-dropping consternation – and raises questions about the Republican Party as a whole – what happened to the party’s long-standing support of privacy and careful protection of citizen’s rights versus corporate and government spying and creepy intrusions? Take a look at this:
In a letter sent to Apple CEO Tim Cook on October 17th, Senator Cruz, along with Democratic Senator Pat Leahy, wrote to express their concern regarding a New York Times article published earlier this year that claimed Apple had removed several virtual private network apps from its App Store for users in China. They’re worried that Apple “may be enabling the Chinese government’s censorship and surveillance of the Internet.”
Great, but what about over here? If you remove the names and places, then such a statement sounds like protection of freedom of speech and privacy. That’s 100 percent American. But the truth is you can’t remove them. And Cruz has never shown an interest or promoted legislation protecting such rights with Americans.
Ideas such as the right to privacy, deregulation, and state rights once sat at the core of the Republican platform. Today however, the GOP is struggling with its identity. Cruz seems to have forgotten the conservative agenda. Focusing on a foreign front with an issue run rampant here in America makes no sense. We need to get our house in order first. So, why aren’t we? Cruz and his Republican peers were in cahoots with Internet Service Providers to undo sweeping privacy rules that the Federal Communications Commission adopted during Obama’s administration. Yes, that’s deregulation, but what good is it if done at the expense of one of the GOP’s fundamental beliefs? We need protection of our freedoms. Removing barriers that run contrary to such conservative ideals serves no one. It doesn’t make our nation safer. It doesn’t end terrorism. It only hurts Americans.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg with Cruz. Remember back in 2016, when the government tried to force Apple to grant it backdoor access to iPhones? Guess who expressed support for such actions? Senator Ted Cruz. So basically, Cruz finds it logical to remove American protection but a concerning development if China does it.
What exactly does Mr. Cruz believe here? Is he following a new party path or blazing a new one that tries to be all things to all people, laying the groundwork to run for president again in 2020? Does he truly believe in the hypocrisy of his actions, not understand them, or merely not care?
Senator Leahy, a Democrat, comes from this at a totally different direction. He has a history of establishing regulations to protect citizens. He became the first senator to use encryption. He’s spoken out against the NSA. So regardless of whether you agree with his views, when he calls into question Apple’s actions in China, there’s a linear flow of logic involved. Granted, he should be encouraged to get American privacy in order first, but one can’t blame him for having the same concerns at a global level.
And what about Cook? He has a long history too as a privacy advocate. In September of 2014, he released his famous online open letter in which he sought to clarify Apple’s privacy position and separate it from others in Silicon Valley. In February 2015, President Obama invited him as the only major techie to attend a cybersecurity and consumer privacy summit at Stanford University. At that event, he warned the world that “History has shown us that sacrificing our right to privacy can have dire consequences -- we still live in a world where all people are not treated equally. Too many people do not feel free to practice their religion or express their opinion, or love who they choose."
Strong words and very personal ones, considering Cook’s bravery in being one of the few high-profile business leaders who publicly came out. In addition, in January 2016, Cook demanded that the White House formally defend Americans' right to strong encryption and no back doors.
With the situation in China, Cook’s hands are somewhat tied. China accounts for approximately 20 percent of all Apple exports, which converts to $1.5B. That’s more than the United States, which accounts for 13 percent. China is also one of the top five fastest-growing Apple exporters since 2012, increasing its output by more than 50 percent. Furthermore, although most of iPhone’s critical components are made by non-Chinese companies, the majority of iPhones, MacBooks, Apple watches, and iPads get assembled in China. Apple would take a huge financial hit, not to mention a productivity decline, if it had to switch to another country. That’s why Cook visits China often. A happy China is good news for Apple and the millions of people Apple employs in China.
The price of doing business in a foreign country requires adhering to the laws of that country. Cook could pull Apple out of China or he could try to protect privacy as best possible within the definition of a restrictive regime. To this situation Cook responded, “Like we do in other countries, we follow the law wherever we do business.” That might sound like a copout, but it’s sadly a reality. Neither businesses nor liberties can survive in an all-or-nothing world. Certain sacrifices have to be made to preserve and protect the core of our beliefs and our capitalist system in other countries.
Everyone’s actions in general fall in line with their history of behavior, that is unless you are Senator Ted Cruz. It’s okay to call out injustices in the world, but not so much when you ignore those occurring right in front of you on your streets, in your districts, across the fifty states. To borrow a line from the musical ‘Hamilton:’ “If you stand for nothing, Cruz, what’ll you fall for?”