Let me preface this by saying this: that I've been watching Ted Cruz for a long time and though we may not agree on everything, I believe that he is an exceptional leader. Dare I say even "statesman"? Among other things he and I are on the same level when it comes to repealing Obamacare. It's broken, it has been broken from its inception, and it will continue to be the most enormous disaster of American government ever if it persists. The only sane thing to do is to roll it back completely. Anyone who is enthusiastic about doing that, has gone a long way in earning my vote.
I would certainly consider casting a vote for Ted Cruz (with my usual caveat that I will under no circumstance mark a ballot for any candidate who runs even a single negative ad against an opponent).
But I am extremely disgusted by how Cruz chose to announce today that he is indeed running for President.
He did so at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. This is the school that was founded by the late Jerry Falwell. It's a school that I have an immense amount of respect for. I could certainly understand why a candidate would want to make an announcement there.
The thing is: Liberty University made attendance at Cruz's announcement MANDATORY for all students.
Liberty holds convocation for the entire student body three days a week. Well what would you know, but Cruz's hat-in-the-ring moment coincided with the Monday convocation. TV cameras caught an entire sea of young faces looking at Ted Cruz. Nobody could back out. It was either be there or be penalized.
Let's consider something: what if my alma-mater Elon Univesity ordered every student, on and off-campus, to herd themselves into the football stadium to watch Hillary Clinton make her candidate announcement? Lots of people, perhaps way more than would be anticipated, would vehemently raise their voices in outrage, and rightfully so.
The same thing as what happened today at Liberty. The Cruz campaign was devious in projecting a message that all of those students are behind him. When if he wanted to be more honest and honorable about it, he would have made his announcement a a time that did not obligate every student and instructor to be there.
(There were "dissidents" at the rally: several students supporting Rand Paul were in attendance, resplendent in Paul t-shirts. To these students, I must tip my hat toward their "rebellious spirit".)
The more I think about it, the worse this spectacle is. Using mandatory convocation to force all students to watch Ted Cruz
announce his candidacy is pretty low. Cruz should have no problem
garnering enthusiasm for his run without such cheap tricks.
And then, the place of venue could be called into question, too. Liberty University is well-renowned for its Christian ideals. For any GOP candidate to have any sort of political presence there reinforces the notion that conservatism... and especially evangelical Christianity... is on common ground with the Republican Party.
As recent years have demonstrated, this is not so.
EDIT 10:24 p.m. EST: I'm very much led to direct your attention to Jerry Falwell Jr.'s statement about the Ted Cruz announcement. Because I must profess: he makes a case and strongly so. And I have some more healthy respect for Liberty University and its convocations: that students are allowed to boo if they so desire, well... that's much more than some colleges would tolerate! In that regard, this is not a situation of forcing students to comply with the politics of the faculty. So far as the Liberty leadership goes, this statement by Falwell assuages my contempt tremendously.
Nonetheless, this was an inappropriate action on the part of Ted Cruz and his campaign. I can't say that I've lost respect for him as a candidate who I may or may not cast a ballot for, but for now it is something that has led me to lose some amount of admiration for Cruz.
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