Messing With Texas
Public debates are a pillar of American elections. Live political discourse provides citizens with the opportunity to learn about issues on the ballot, and how candidates would approach those issues if elected.
One of the most lively debates took place this past week between Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz for the 2018 Texas Senate seat.
This election between Congressman O’Rourke and Senator Cruz is unique in that both men believe they are what is right for Texas, but their definition of what is right couldn’t be more different.
In order to get a better picture of each candidate during this debate, I pretended, at least for the night, that I, too, was a Texan. Which led me to ask the question: If I were an independent Texan, who would I choose to be my Senator? Stripping away the labels of party, who is it that seems to have a firm grip on what’s right for Texas and in turn, what’s right for the country?
“What Susie says of Sally says more of Susie than of Sally.”
Instantly, I found myself gravitating towards one candidate over another, not because of what they said about themselves or their policy goals, but because of what they said about the other.
1. When Senator Cruz was asked about the recent allegations from Professor Christine Ford and its impact on the Brett Kavanaugh hearing, he spent less than 12 seconds responding to the Senate procedure moving forward and the rest of his 90 seconds claiming that Congressman O’Rourke didn’t want a Kavanaugh confirmation because O’Rourke simply “doesn’t support the Second Amendment.”
As a young woman, Senator Cruz’s choice to deflect during a question of sexual assault made me question his fitness to be my elected official. While I understand that Senator Cruz has supported the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, this was his chance to use his limited time to highlight the importance of an investigation and the chance for Professor Ford to share her story. Instead, he avoided the topic and used his time to blame Congressman O’Rourke for a lack of gun rights support, a statement that could have been brought up at some point, but not during a question of sexual assault procedure.
2. The moderators soon transitioned to Second Amendment rights and gun violence in this country. Senator Cruz was asked about methods to combat gun violence, and his response pushed me further to the left. When Senator Cruz claimed that school shootings were “complex” and it wasn’t “just the government that is to blame,” I expected the caveat of mental illness and the role it plays in mass shootings. Instead, Cruz said it’s not just the government that is to blame for these shootings, but it’s “losing God from the public square.”
As a believer in God, this statement brought me no comfort and no closer to voting for Senator Cruz. While my faith is important to me, and faith is important to many Texans, this statement doesn’t take a stand for Texans, conservative or liberal. In moments of crisis and tragedy, we can offer thoughts and prayers, but we have to construct a plan to be better. Senator Cruz’s statement neglected to take any sort of stand, which could hurt his chances at reelection.
3. Finally, Senator Cruz addressed the flip-flop of his feelings for President Donald Trump. During the 2016 election, Senator Cruz and President Trump publicly admitted to disliking the other, yet today constituents have been given a very different picture, one where Senator Cruz praises the president in Time magazine. To explain his stance, Cruz used his beginning 14 seconds to repeat to the audience how blessed he is “to be married to the beautiful Heidi Cruz.”
As a southerner, the hospitality wasn’t there. It took Senator Cruz so long to even address what was being asked of him, and when he finally did, I still needed more. His obscure relationship with the president is important to this country when he has less than two minutes to speak, not his appreciation of his wife.
Senator Cruz’s composure and confidence did not match his rhetoric and ideas. Neither candidate is perfect, but I was unable to get a fully painted picture from Senator Cruz when he chose time and time again to blame his opponent and deter from the point of the question being asked.
Senator Cruz represents, in many ways, conservative Texas. Pro-life, gun rights and free-market health care are all staples of the Cruz campaign.
Congressman O’Rourke represents a different Texas, one that is pro-immigration, pro-choice, pro-gun control rather than gun removal.
While Senator Cruz continues to lead in the polls, this race is going to be close, and it is going to be remembered long after it’s over.
Beto O’Rourke is messing with Texas, the old, conservative, unchanged Texas. Who knows, maybe this race will produce a Democratic senator. Even if it doesn’t end in a blue victory, this race, and Beto O’Rourke, are proving to the country that Texas is far more complex and far more diverse than we have often labeled it to be.
Everything’s bigger in Texas, even the Senate races.