It seems all the Senate Republicans are willing to turn a blind eye to the scandal and corruption obviously at play in the Mississippi Senate race to protect their buddy Thad Cochran who, apparently, can no longer find his way to the clubby Senate lunches he's been attending since Jimmy Carter was president.
In what appears to be the ultimate modern demonstration of "drinking the Koolaid," Republicans across the spectrum seem to have entered a pact in sticking together to defend, and even celebrate, campaign tactics predicated on gross voter fraud and manipulation of minority voters. In fact, we now know Senate Republicans funded those attacks.
One senator, however, has broken the silence and is speaking out. Yes, one. Only one. Senator Ted Cruz, who, ironically, holds an official position with the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), the group at the center of these nasty allegations. Cruz has described the Mississippi fiasco as "appalling" and called for a "vigorous investigation" of possible criminal conduct in an interview with Mark Levin.
"All of us want to grow the party. But what the DC machine did was not try to grow the party, but instead the ads they ran were racially charged false attacks and they were explicit promises to continue and expand the welfare state," Cruz went on. "And nobody is suggesting that the Democrats who voted in the primary will actually vote Republican in the general election. Instead they were just recruited to decide who the Republican nominee was. And that’s unprincipled and it’s wrong."
Yet, in light of this principled call to ensure voting integrity, the Establishment remains undeterred, if not emboldened. The day after Senator Cruz gave this interview, the NRSC hosted a reception to thank those who, according to the invitation, "generously supported and promoted Senator Cochran's campaign during the Primary."
So, I must ask: Why is Ted Cruz the only one with the courage to hold our own party accountable for what are glaring, terrible misdeeds? And why are other allegedly bold conservatives comfortable with their own silence and complicity?
One would think that Senator Cruz would be joined by members such as Rand Paul, who, like Cruz, defeated a heavily-funded, NRSC-backed candidate in his own primary races.
Senator Paul has distanced himself from the Republican voters seeking justice in this situation, commenting that, “I’m for more people voting, not less people voting," and adding — for good measure — "I think the people of Mississippi spoke and I think Thad Cochran has done a lot of good things for Mississippi.”
Similarly, Senator Marco Rubio told the Wall Street Journal: "I think Thad Cochran found whatever tactics he could use to win his election and people could have an opinion about that, but at this point we should move forward and make sure we retain that seat.” In another comment to The Hill, Rubio declared that "it’s important to rally now around the winner,” adding — in the midst of Senator Cruz's call for an investigation — that it’s time to "move forward."
These viewpoints suggest a fissure that runs much deeper than a primary in Mississippi.
And the base is taking note.
Rand Paul is going out of his way to empower the Establishment, throwing his star power weight behind some of it's worst offenders. In perhaps the most public example, Rand Paul took the floor alongside Mitch McConnell in the minutes following Senator Ted Cruz's 21-hour filibuster to deliver a colloquy designed to belittle the entire heroic effort.
He followed with an op-ed declaring the effort as misguided as Obamacare itself. His alliance with McConnell continued throughout that primary fight, with Rand Paul delivering his utmost support and enthusiasm for the defeat of a promising Tea Party candidate in his home state of Kentucky. More befuddling, Paul traveled to Maine to declare that he "wholeheartedly endorse[s] Senator Collins for re-election" — the same Susan Collins who maintains an impeccable record of Establishment bidding in Washington.
Now, Paul's commitment to defending the status quo continues, as he lends active support to the re-election of Senator Lamar Alexander, of Tennessee. Just months ago, all three of these Paul endorsees gave the American people a stiff arm by voting in favor of a "clean" debt ceiling increase. These are frontline battles in the fight to "Make DC Listen," yet, Paul unabashedly lends each his support to those who stand consistently on the other side of the line.
Ted Cruz, on the other hand, has chosen to stand alone, again and again, against the Establishment. From helping lead the charge to filibuster what the Establishment said was inevitable gun control, to standing toe-to-toe with the Administration in a fight to defund Obamacare, to challenging his own party bosses by demanding a 60-vote threshold to increase the debt ceiling without any spending reforms, Cruz takes bullets from his own party for daring to challenge the system.
Today, in fact, Ted Cruz intends to force his Republican colleagues to put up or shut on on the border issue. They're refusing to end President Obama's "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" ("DACA") program, which is a chief instigator of the present crisis. Instead, many of Cruz's Republican colleagues, including his fellow Texas senator, John Cornyn, want to give the President more power and use your money to pay for lawyers for the illegals.
If the lengths to which the Establishment will go to preserve its own power were ever in doubt, what we saw in Mississippi serves as more than sufficient validation. What happened in that state was open warfare — fueled by more than one hundred thousand dollars from Republican senators — for the sole purpose of protecting a septuagenarian appropriator whose legacy is marked by a train of pork from Washington to Mississippi.
The Republican party will not change itself. No one — not Rand, not Marco, not Ted — is going to change the party with a magical speech delivered eloquently on the Senate floor. We will not win the argument in Washington.
Longtime incumbents, such as Cochran, who are oblivious to the realities of our modern problems, need to be ripped out of their seats and replaced with fresh, bold leaders who are undeterred by the bully tactics of the country's most infamous "Good Ol' Boys' Club." We must remake the party one hard-fought seat at a time, focusing intently on the principles we believe can turn this country around, rather than the men who feel entitled to maintain those seats.
Thank goodness for organizations such as SCF, the Madison Project, and Heritage Action.
Ted Cruz has proven his commitment to stand with the people and reject the "rules" of the Washington Establishment. Too often, in both overt actions and abject disregard, some of his colleagues we expect better from have chosen the institutions and establishment that have created the very mess we are in.
At this critical time in our nation's history, I am confident in the allegiance I have chosen. Are you?