One of the biggest debates in American politics involves the ideal size and role of government. Conservatives tend to favor a small federal government. Liberals more often contend that government should play a major part in our lives. Technocrats on all sides talk about the need for government to be, if nothing else, efficient. Everyone has their own opinion about when, exactly, the government crosses the line from being involved to being intrusive.
But one thing on which we should all be able to agree is this: Government ought to be small enough that Ted Cruz, if he one day becomes president, can never, ever use it to determine how we, as a people, masturbate.
Recent news has forced us all to consider how a President Cruz might use his executive authority to appoint himself the chaperone of our fun solo sexytimes. As Mother Jones' David Corn reports, in 2007, during Cruz's tenure as the Texas state solicitor general, his office defended a law that banned the sale of "obscene devices," like dildos, after purveyors of same challenged that law on constitutional grounds.
You can read the whole blow-by-blow here, but the salient part is this: In a 76-page brief filed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, Cruz's legal team asserted that the state had "police-power interests" that could -- and should! -- be brought to bear on "discouraging prurient interests in sexual gratification, combating the commercial sale of sex, and protecting minors."
Moreover, Cruz's office contended that "there is no substantive-due-process right to stimulate one's genitals for non-medical purposes unrelated to procreation or outside of an interpersonal relationship." Or, as Corn summarizes, that "the pursuit of such happiness had no constitutional standing."
This is, in and of itself, very troublesome to learn. But on Wednesday, a tweet from Craig Mazin, Cruz's former college roommate, took the unpleasantness to an entirely different level -- framing for all of us, with laser precision, the way in which Cruz could have a chilling effect on everyone's sexual arousal:
Obviously, Mazin is painting Cruz as a hypocrite, but that's not the most important takeaway here. What Mazin has done, with one tweet, is create an image powerful enough to turn our imaginations into a Superfund site from which no sexual arousal can be produced, and force us all to come to terms with Cruz's intrinsic ability to induce global genophobia.
I'm typically skeptical of the power of the president's bully pulpit, but in Cruz's case, I fear he may possess the sheer boner-killing force of a supermassive black hole. (I'm referring here to both lady boners and original recipe boners, to use the precise anatomical terms.) And if he genuinely believes that the state has constitutional authority to crack down on our lust for flesh, I fear for us all.
Look, is masturbation somehow underhanded? For many people, it is. But we're not here to quibble about technique. The point is that Ted Cruz is uniquely able to quell sexual desire in most mammals, as anyone who has ever mistakenly Googled "Ted Cruz smile," or endured his endless quoting of "The Princess Bride," can attest. That ability, married to Cruz's beliefs about the role of government, and further magnified by the power of the Oval Office, could doom us all to a life of enforced monasticism, and do irreversible damage to our nation's entrepreneurial spirit.
You may not agree with the idea that government should be small enough to drown in a bathtub. But if it must be, we should still be allowed to enjoy ourselves once the drowning is done. So let's all take the moment to simply ask Ted Cruz: "Bruh, can u not?"
Cool, cool. And now I think it's best that we burn this after reading it.
Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.