If you thought that rightwing politicos couldn't get any goofier, take a peek at Texas on Cruz control.
Ted Cruz is America's latest tea party darling, having pulled off a political contortion in Texas that few would have thought humanly possible: He got to the right of Governor Rick Perry! The "Oops" governor is himself a former tea party darling who puts the goober in gubernatorial. But Cruz squinched himself Houdini-like into even-further-out positions than Perry had taken, thus wowing the tea leaf crowd and defeating the guy whom Perry was backing to be the party's nominee for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
How far out is he? One of the white-hot talking points Cruz used to fire up the narrow extremists who now control the Texas GOP is that he will, by God, defend America's golf courses! You might not have realized that golf course defense is a burning national issue, but that's what makes Cruz a tea party fave.
Defend golf courses against what, you ask?
Not turf rot, rampaging moles, or those bothersome environmentalists, but that old rightwing bugaboo: the United Nations. "Stop Agenda 21," cried Cruz in an alert posted prominently on his campaign website. Agenda 21 is a twenty-year-old, innocuous nonbinding U.N. resolution (agreed to by then-President George Bush the First). It encourages governments to develop plans for sustainable development of "open spaces" -- and that's what rubs Ted raw. Open spaces, you see, includes golf courses.
To the barricades, Patriots: Grab your putters and mashies and rush to your local links, for the U.N. is coming over yon hill!
Doubling down on his wackiness creds, Cruz noted ominously (and falsely) that "the originator of this grand scheme is George Soros." Quadrupling down, Cruz added (also falsely) that the hobgoblin Soros is a socialist devil who believes in "eliminating national sovereignty and private property."
Thus, he concluded, "The real question is will we have Senators in Washington who will take steps to stop this nonsense." Yes, Ted, right back at you.
Unfortunately, golf goofiness is not the only nonsense that this guy embraces. He's also a Social Security privatizer, a "tenther" (he worships the Tenth Amendment about unenumerated rights belonging to the states or to the people), a turn-'em-loose front man for Big Oil, an opponent of extending unemployment benefits to America's jobless millions, a die-hard champion of deregulating Wall Street greed (his wife, coincidentally, is a top regional executive for Goldman Sachs), a regressive flat tax acolyte, and a shameless promoter of the anti-Islam poppycock that Sharia law is "an enormous problem" right here in the U.S. of A.
Nonetheless, Cruz did win and is now celebrated as "the people's choice" in Texas. (He now faces the Democratic former state representative Paul Sadler.) The media reported that Cruz piled up a whopping 57 percent of the vote in the Republican runoff. The media reported this as politically earth-shaking, blaring that "high turnout" by tea partiers created a "surge at the polls" that carried Cruz to his "huge" win. The Lone Star result, concluded many pundits, shows that the people want candidates aligned with "tea party values."
Hog poop. Let's look at two big, honking, neon-lit numbers that reveal a stunning truth about the state of our democratic process. First: 631,316. That's how small the actual vote was for Cruz. Next: 15,915,758. That's how many eligible voters there are in the state.
Do the math (which the media failed to do), and the real story turns out to be that Cruz is the choice of no more than 4 percent of the voters of Texas.
This is what America's politics has become -- so empty and asinine that a guy wins a nomination to a U.S. Senate seat with a pathetic 4 percent of the vote ... and then is hailed as the choice of "the people."
Jim Hightower produces The Hightower Lowdown newsletter and is the author, with Susan DeMarco, of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go with the Flow.