Click here to read the full opinion column in the Worchester, Massachusetts Telegram.
When I heard Rafael Cruz’s recent rant about God’s vengeance and unisex bathrooms, my first thought was: Oh, his poor son.
Rafael Cruz, you see, is the father of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, widely believed to be considering a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. Like most of us, I’d never heard of Rafael until he fretted Tuesday about the risk of transgendered people using public bathrooms. According to Rafael, unless we discriminate against these folks they’ll soon be sharing our stalls and engaging in God knows what else.
“An ordinance was passed by city council with a blessing of the mayor that allows men to walk into women’s bathrooms,” Rafael said, speaking on a conference call. “It even would allow kids to make football teams to go shower with the girls. That is a recipe for disaster, for sexual predators, for who knows what. So my call to every Christian is, enough, we can no longer sit comfortable on the pews. And, pastors, you cannot continue to hide behind the pulpit. God will hold you accountable.”
You get the gist. I’m not in the habit of sympathizing with Ted Cruz, but I figured old Rafael was his embarrassing-relative-cross-to-bear. You know, like Billy Carter was Jimmy’s and Roger Clinton was Bill’s. Most recently, President Barack Obama’s uncle, Onyango Obama, was a source of shame after news broke that he was an illegal immigrant ordered by a judge to leave the country in 1992.
Back to Rafael. After some research, I learned that he’s an evangelical Texas preacher who believes that the media want to destroy America, that gay marriage is a government plot and that — allow me to quote here — “Evolution is one of the strongest tools of Marxism because if they can convince you that you came from a monkey, it’s much easier to convince you that God does not exist.”
In other words, Rafael Cruz is a full-on, fundamentalist wackadoodle. It happens. Granted, not every son can boast a dad who lauds Glenn Beck as a “modern John the Baptist,” but we empathize, right? Must be tough on Ted, especially with such lofty political aspirations.
Turns out, it’s not so tough on Ted. Quite the contrary. According to a story in 2013 in the National Review Online, the close “partnership” between Cruz and his dad has been “a rising force” in Republican politics ever since dad helped his son win the 2012 U.S. Senate race in 2012:
“Ever since, Cruz has kept his father, a 74-year-old pastor, involved with his political shop, using him not merely as a confidant and stand-in, but as a special envoy. He is Cruz’s preferred introductory speaker, his best messenger with evangelicals, and his favorite on-air sidekick — a presence who softens his edge.”
So Ted Cruz isn’t hiding his dad. He’s consulting his dad. And Ted Cruz wants to be president of the United States, armed with a wrath-of-God-type father who helps “soften” his edge. Rafael is also said to hold considerable sway over his son and his inner circle.
“Their road show has enthralled many on the right and startled Cruz’s potential 2016 rivals,” according to the National Review. “No one else in the emerging GOP field has an ally like the charismatic elder Cruz.”
How is this possible? A father like Rafael should be a scandal, not a savior. An extremist who asserts that Christian believers are “anointed” by God to “take dominion” of the world should not have the ear of any powerful leader, let alone one who wants to be president.
Only in conservative tea party circles would a judgmental zealot be deemed a political asset.