Rafael Cruz

Ted Cruz’s Daddy Issues


Cindy Casares Portrait

A version of this story ran in the December 2013 issue.

Above: Rafael Cruz

Most Texans probably didn’t realize that when they elected Ted Cruz to the U.S. Senate, they were getting his dad thrown in at no extra cost. Lately, Rafael Cruz has been working overtime to offend everyone from President Obama to the LGBT community. The senior Cruz falsely claimed that the president doesn’t say “one nation under God” during the Pledge of Allegiance. He accused Obama of being a Marxist. He called for him to be sent “back” to Kenya. It’s almost as if Rafael Cruz is trolling us. And it’s working. The media has been lit up for weeks with lists of all the crazy things that have come out of his mouth.

Ted Cruz (né Rafael Ted Cruz) acts as though the media is picking on his father. “Some folks have decided to try and go after him because they want to take some shots at me,” he said recently on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

But it’s not as if journalists are exploiting privileged information from Rafael Cruz’s private life. These are claims he’s made in public forums. Moreover, the evangelical pastor is part of the senator’s inner circle. The two were billed together at September’s Family Leadership Summit in Iowa as a “Father-Son Team.”

It was in his speech at the Family Leadership Summit that Rafael Cruz told the audience that gay marriage is “really more about the destruction of the traditional family than about exalting homosexuality because [for socialism to work] you need to also destroy loyalty to the family.” Huh?

In my view, Rafael Cruz is doing us a favor by so publicly airing his twisted views, some of which he apparently passed on to his son. It goes something like this: Social welfare, such as President Obama’s health-care reform, is akin to socialism. Socialism depends on making the government into a god and therefore must remove the Christian God from our culture. Ergo, Barack Obama equals Fidel Castro.

It’s this connection between so-called godlessness and Communism or socialism that runs throughout the Cruz manifesto. Rafael Cruz seems to think that because he was born in Cuba, he is qualified—probably anointed—to ferret out Communists from within our ranks, an obsession that smacks of reheated McCarthyism. Even more eerie is the fact that his U.S. senator son has followed suit.

At a 2011 Koch brothers luncheon in Austin, Ted Cruz made the assertion that when he was at Harvard Law School, the faculty harbored more self-proclaimed Communists than Republicans. “There were 12 who would say they were Marxists who believed in the Communists overthrowing the United States government,” he told the crowd.

“We are puzzled by the senator’s assertions, as we are unaware of any basis for them,” Robb London, a spokesman for Harvard Law School, told The New Yorker.

The basis for the senator’s claims can likely be found with his father. By his own account, Rafael Cruz began grooming his son for this sort of anti-Communist preoccupation when he was a boy.

Rafael was seriously involved with conservative Christian policymaking in the late 1970s when Edward McAteer founded the Religious Roundtable, a right-wing group that aided Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980.

Rafael Cruz was on the Texas board of the Religious Roundtable when Ted was 8. It was at this time, Rafael says, that he began talking with Ted about politics. He told his son that America is a haven from Communist Cuba and that if America loses its freedoms, there will be nowhere left to go. He also taught Ted that God had handpicked him.

“When he was 4, I used to read Bible stories to him all the time, and I would declare and proclaim the word of God over him,” the senior Cruz said in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network. “And I would just say, ‘You know Ted, you have been gifted above any man that I know. And God has destined you for greatness.’ And I started making declarations about the word of God to him. Every day, every day, every day.”

If that isn’t some Tiger Woods-level programming, I don’t know what is. Earl Woods called his son “the chosen one” too, claiming Woods would “do more than any other man in history to change the course of humanity.” Like Tiger Woods, Ted Cruz grew up to be a prodigy, but at what cost to his humility and sanity? And, more important, at what cost to our country?

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