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Cruz’s Value Voters Vortex

Watching a few minutes, or even a few seconds, of the annual Values Voter Summit in Washington, you’d have no idea that the GOP is struggling—or even, as ABC News says, “working out the terms of their surrender.”

The conference, which began Friday, October 11, is meant to be a gathering together of the religious right, but in this political climate the summit is shaping up to be a mass venting of all conservative grievances and a reaffirmation of a delusional political strategy. As such, the conversation must immediately turn to one of the conference’s most anticipated speakers, the senator from Texas, Republican Ted Cruz. Cruz loves speaking. We know this. He speaks so very much that as a junior senator who’s served a little less than nine months in office, he’s already managed to be hated by a shocking number of the American people.

This vitriol stems from the fact that Cruz basically caused the government shutdown—an impressive personal feat to be sure. Now some might say that current poll numbers, which show that the public overwhelmingly blames the Grand Old Party for the government shutdown, prove that this shutdown gambit has been the actual and political disaster everyone expected. Cruz, on the other hand, knows that the poll numbers are skewed, just ’cuz, and he has his own poll numbers that show that even though Republicans are losing, they are only barely. Except that it isn’t quite barely. According to the poll, 46 percent blame the Republicans for this mess, while 39 percent blame the Democrats. And the rest probably want to punch both parties in the face.

So then we come to his speech last Friday, and oh boy, what a speech it was. “The Democrats are feeling the heat!” Cruz told the crowd at the Values Voter Summit. “The greatest trick the left has ever played is to convince conservatives we cannot win,” he continued.

You tell ’em, Senator.

Placing the shutdown blame game to one side for a moment, a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, released last week, revealed that just 24 percent of Americans reported having a positive opinion of the Republican party. “The survey reflects a record low in approval for the GOP for [the] NBC/WSJ poll, which dates back to 1989,” reports Talking Points Memo.

And yet even when Cruz called for staying the course, the gathered values voters didn’t pull their hair out; they cheered.

“It is because of you that for the past two months, the country is engaged in a national debate about the enormous harms Obamacare is causing,” Cruz told the crowd. Well done, all.

The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll also found that support for the Affordable Care Act is increasing, with 38 percent of respondents approving of the law—up from 31 percent in the same poll last month.

Nevertheless, our man Cruz says, “It seems President Obama’s paid political operatives are out in force today. And you know why? Because the men and women in this room scare the living daylights out of them.”

People may be scared of conservatives, but not in the way Cruz would like them to be.

Yet another poll released last week shows that the Republican party’s approval has tanked since September 2013:

With the Republican-controlled House of Representatives engaged in a tense, government-shuttering budgetary standoff against a Democratic president and Senate, the Republican Party is now viewed favorably by twenty-eight percent of Americans, down from thirty-eight percent in September. This is the lowest favorable rating measured for either party since Gallup began asking this question in 1992.

What happened at the Values Voter Summit last week—what each of the umpteen trillion speeches was trying to sell—was a direct contradiction to what’s happening in real life. The truth is Republicans should be so furious at Ted Cruz! Not just for leading them into this, but for the opportunity costs as well. Because the Democratic Party sucks. I mean, President Obama is desperately trying to get Republicans to cut Social Security benefits. This is his complaint now! That he’s offered cuts to “entitlements” and Republicans refuse to talk with him about that! And yet the Republicans manage to fuck up that opportunity to split apart the Democratic Party. Instead, they have chosen to sit around muttering about Obamacare and congratulating themselves on shuttering the government.