Cruz led 11 Republican senators in a plan to object to the certification of the election results, earning the group the nicknames “sedition caucus” and “dirty dozen.”
Despite top election officials calling the Nov. 3 election “the most secure in American history,” Cruz argued against a peaceful transition of power in front of Congress during Wednesday's certification ceremony. Why? Because many Americans “believe” the election was rigged.
Minutes later, President Donald Trump’s supporters invaded the Capitol building.
While armed protesters raided Congress — where U.S. lawmakers had stood moments before — the Texas senator took to Twitter to call for peace in an extraordinary feat of rapid-fire backpedaling.
“Those storming the Capitol need to stop NOW. The Constitution protects peaceful protest, but violence—from Left or Right— is ALWAYS wrong. And those engaged in violence are hurting the cause they say they support,” Cruz wrote, likely around the time that a woman had been shot on Capitol grounds. (She later died of her injuries, according to The New York Times.)
Following the melee, several Texas Democratic groups condemned Cruz’s efforts to disrupt the election and called for his resignation.
Those storming the Capitol need to stop NOW.— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) January 6, 2021
The Constitution protects peaceful protest, but violence—from Left or Right— is ALWAYS wrong.
And those engaged in violence are hurting the cause they say they support.
In a statement, the Texas Democratic Party called Cruz and the state’s Attorney General Ken Paxton "snivelling cowards," the latter of whom addressed Trump supporters at a D.C. rally hours before the Capitol was stormed. The Boot Texas Republicans Political Action Committee also lambasted Cruz, whose actions they believe incited Wednesday’s riot.
“Cruz told the country that the election was stolen. Cruz undermined public faith in the election by suggesting that there is a conspiracy to overturn the will of the people,” treasurer Zack Malitz said in an emailed statement.
“Texas Republicans are beyond irresponsible, they have failed Texas and they have failed our democracy.”
“I’m hoping that people that vote and participate in the process to get Ted Cruz out of office." – activist Yafeuh Balogun
The fact that a pro-Trump mob was able to breach the Capitol wasn't surprising to some, including Dallas County community leader Shenita Cleveland. Most Trump supporters back the Blue Lives Matter movement, so law enforcement wasn't as rough on them as they typically are with social justice activists, she said.
Republicans are trying to preserve the status quo within a government structure that’s laden with systemic racism, Cleveland said. It’s no surprise that they would “fight tooth and nail to maintain their power" down to the very last second.
Wednesday’s events at the Capitol are a stark contrast to the Democratic wins in Georgia that same day, Cleveland added. There, voters elected the state’s first Black and Jewish senators in a heated runoff race, a victory that many have credited to Black voters and organizers such as former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
“Black people have been attributed with those wins,” Cleveland said. “So with that, they should also understand the power that they have also to make a change in this country.”
While law enforcement did little to stop Wednesday’s rioters, it’s very likely they’d have used force if it had been Black Lives Matter protesters, said Yafeuh Balogun, coordinator of the Dallas chapter of Community Movement Builders, a Black-led collective.
Although Balogun said most of this summer's BLM protests were peaceful and had minimal violence, they were heavily attended by police, even those that hadn't seen rioting. By contrast, few officers were positioned to protect the Capitol. If the tables were turned, social justice activists would have been detained, arrested or assaulted by law enforcement, he said.
Wednesday’s events illustrate that those who supported Trump and his type of extremism should be voted out of office in 2024, Balogun said.
“I’m hoping that people that vote and participate in the process to get Ted Cruz out of office,” he said. “Pull him out.”
Wednesday’s events amounted to something one would find in “low-quality Latin American democracies,” said Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University.
Most of the blame falls squarely on Trump, who could have diffused the situation but instead escalated it, he said. Still, it's not all that surprising given the precedent the president set over the past four years.
“The disruption and violence and protests really should give people like Sen. Cruz pause," Jones said. "Because while for him it may be political theater, for many citizens it’s not.”