COMMENTARY | According to The Ticket , the tea party is alive and well in Texas, where underdog Ted Cruz was favored to win the Republican Senate runoff election on Tuesday. Cruz represents the latest David and Goliath-style fight between the common man and the Establishment, as the Cuban-American lawyer and former state solicitor general came from behind to take the lead over his well-financed opponent.
Sarah Palin, who endorsed Cruz, stated that he is “a proven, common-sense constitutional conservative” who will “shrink government.” We’ve heard that claim before. We heard it in 2010, when Republicans were able to regain control of the House of Representatives. We heard it with the victory of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in a recall vote. But what has really changed since then? Has government gotten smaller?
According to a June report by The Weekly Standard , America is predicted to add three times more debt than the Eurozone over the next five years, indicating that the United States has not, since all those freshman representatives entered Congress in 2010, managed to reign in spending. A Gallup poll in mid-July revealed that the approval of the job Congress is doing remains at historical lows, with a total approval rate of 16 percent. That approval is 14 percent among Republicans.
Just this week, an editorial published on the Cato Institute’s blog indicates that Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), who is a member of the 2010 “Tea Party Class” has voted a number of times against measures that will shrink government.
Why do these representatives who get voted into office on the notion of shrinking government wind up voted against measures that would do exactly that? My only guess, having never been a representative voted into office on the notion of shrinking government, is that it’s a lot harder than it seems. It’s easy, from afar, to talk about making slashes in red ink over “unnecessary programs.” But when you get closer, you hear about the people who are helped by these programs. Or something else is slipped into the measure that has nothing to do with shrinking the government at all, but more to do with a pet project and something you can’t vote for. Or you discover that the only way you can accomplish anything at all is to enter some sort of voting alliance with other representatives which sometimes means you wind up voting in favor of things you don’t agree with.
Whatever the reason, it seems that Washington is a lot harder of an opponent to whip than any of the tea party-endorsed representatives or the tea party itself believes. It certainly requires a lot more than one person to make that change.
My best wishes to Ted Cruz. There are big expectations riding on his shoulders. I hope he carries them well.