You can't always tell by watching Texas politics, but there are subtle distinctions to be made between being an arch conservative and being a colossal dick. Here's how to tell if you've crossed the line: Look in a mirror. If you see Texas Senator Ted Cruz's face, you're safely in the Dick Zone.
Cruz has long lived on the Zone's goal line. Then, on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an Arizona law requiring voters to prove their citizenship in order to register. Cruz bulldozed into the Zone, spiked the ball and did a little Ickey Shuffle.
"I'll file amendment to immigration bill that permits states to require ID before registering voters & close this hole in fed statutory law," he tweeted the day the court ruled.
In one sentence, Cruz had swiped at a ruling striking down an unsavory law plainly aimed at suppressing Latino voters while simultaneously announcing his intent to lard on another amendment aimed at killing the immigration-reform bill now dying in the U.S. Senate. That's some expert dickishness right there. And for a rookie, no less.
Buzz called up Lydia Camarillo, vice president of the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, one of the original plaintiffs in the Arizona case, to see whether she had any insight into what might motivate Cruz.
"Senator Cruz is now building his credentials to be as far right as he can be," she said.
But that seems odd, doesn't it? One of the narratives coming out of last year's election was the GOP's desperate need to get behind immigration reform if it wanted to stay viable as the nation's Latino population grows.
Maybe Cruz figures the Latino vote isn't as crucial as advertised. And maybe he's right. According to a report issued last month by Antonio Gonzalez, president of SVREP and the William C. Velasquez Institute, a closer look at the 2012 election suggests that the Latino vote was far less influential in deciding the presidential election than reports claimed. Latinos' share of the vote barely increased between 2008 and 2012, Gonzalez wrote.
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The report notes the effect that a still-languishing job market has had on voting participation, Camarillo says, and shows the need for organized, concerted efforts among political organizers to keep pushing to encourage Latino voting and registration. But maybe that's not what the GOP sees. Maybe the GOP sees that the Latino vote isn't yet the powerhouse it promises to eventually become, meaning guys like Cruz can keep dancing in the Dick Zone.
Maybe it'll feel good to say it together?