One year ago today, Ted Cruz took to the floor of the Senate and gave a very long speech railing against Obamacare. The law has been a documented disaster, so much that some Democrats still fear the effect the law could have on their races.
Senator Cruz, who knew going in he would not be successful in trying to hold up the Senate, nonetheless stepped onto the floor and gave his Senate colleagues, and America, a piece of his mind. He was trashed by people on his own side, including “conservative blogger at the Washington Post,” Jennifer Rubin. His plan was called “stupid.” Some argued he had no plan at all. He was reviled by people who are supposed to be his allies. People who would gladly now use his name to try to raise money after spending incredible time trashing him and his supporters.
It’s funny, though.
It’s funny because a freshman senator named Ted Cruz, along with a freshman senator named Mike Lee and a freshman senator named Rand Paul, took control of the message several times in their first terms as senators. Filibusters became a thing again. We saw Wendy Davis try to capitalize on it later, only for a stupid cause and leading to an awful gubernatorial run. But these guys… these guys yanked the message out from under leadership (which is frankly generous of me to say – leadership hasn’t had a plan in quite some time). The Republican leadership (in Congress and among the DC consulting firms) all panned his tactics, saying it wasn’t going to help. They are convinced that conservatives can’t win, especially when they act conservative.
Sure, people speculate it was all a ploy to lay groundwork for a presidential run, and perhaps it was, but that doesn’t make it wrong. What these three did, and what Ted Cruz has done numerous times since, has been pushing a narrative, a narrative that wins. We’ve seen it poll well. Conservative ideas are by no means dead. They don’t lose races.
Bad candidates do. People with no experience campaigning lose races. But, give it a few cycles. People who got into politics inspired by Ted Cruz, who have the intelligence to win, but only lack campaign sense, are getting experience. Those who helped with races we supported will learn from their mistakes. They will grow. They will become better at their jobs.
Ted Cruz, his allies, and his team all worked together to take the message before. We can certainly do it again. Republican leadership may not change, but we can be noisier, more disruptive, and really just bigger pains in their asses. Eventually, they will have to listen, because the alternative is their electoral ground going out from under them.