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On Monday, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas announced his intention to run for the presidency in 2016. As the first mainstream Republican to officially announce his candidacy, we must commend him for the directness with which he announced his decision to run for the office. Cruz refreshingly eschewed much of the posturing and maneuvering that comes from forming an exploratory committee to consider a run for the office, a step often considered by both serious candidates like Democrat Hillary Clinton and fringe candidates like Donald Trump. Although we believe Cruz’s straightforward announcement is commendable, we believe that his candidacy will prove detrimental to the Republican cause in the 2016 presidential race.
We believe that Ted Cruz is not the right candidate to assume the mantle of Republican leadership in 2016—a stance with which many Republicans agree, as demonstrated by recent polls. In a recent CNN poll of people who identify as Republicans, four percent said that they were likely to support Cruz’s candidacy for the nomination, compared to sixteen and thirteen percent for former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, respectively.
The candidacy of Cruz serves only to contribute to the deepening political polarization of recent years. Extremist politicians like Cruz have played a major role in creating the current political environment that is so hopelessly mired in gridlock. For example, his obstructionist tactics were notably on display in 2013 when he forced a government shutdown against the wishes of many other prominent Republican politicians and famously read “Green Eggs and Ham” on the Senate floor in a 21-hour filibuster in advance of a vote over funding the Affordable Care Act. Cruz’s candidacy increases the focus on the ideological extremism that has sadly become an integral part of the primaries.
Further, Cruz has the dangerous potential to pull the eventual Republican nominee further to the right of the political spectrum. Because primary voters tend to lean towards the ideological extremes of each party, candidates are forced to adopt extreme beliefs to navigate the primary process, and consequently struggle to appeal to the center after winning the nomination. The presence of Cruz will exacerbate this problem; his conservative viewpoints, combined with his national prominence and famously outspoken nature, will undoubtedly force the other candidates farther to the right.
It is difficult to believe that the Republican Party will win a presidential election in the near future when Tea Party candidates like Ted Cruz—whose announcement speech included numerous religious references and alluded to repealing the Affordable Care Act and eliminating the Internal Revenue Service—run in the primaries and pull the eventual nominee into supporting more ideologically extreme platforms. In short, Cruz’s candidacy will not be positive for either party: His brand of politics exemplifies the extremism that has plagued both the Republican Party and Capitol Hill in recent years.
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