Rafael Cruz, Conservative Rock Star, and the Making of Ted

Senator Ted Cruz, the uncompromising Tea Party standard bearer, the bane of the establishment GOP, is the most influential man in the world (according to 11 percent of Americans, anyway).

He almost singlehandedly led his entire party over the cliff during the government shutdown to defund Obamacare. His personal style is that of the zealous proselytizer, whose presence and message in the Senate is ordained by God (and Friedrich Hayek). He positions himself as a D.C. outsider, yet he haunts that milieu and its fundraisers like a consummate pro. Ted Cruz is a man of contradiction. But to understand him, you must first know his father, Rafael, the Cuban immigrant who, in conservative circles, is the embodiment of the American dream. And his legacy to the country that gave him this new life?

That's his son, Ted Cruz.

D Magazine has a fascinating profile of the elder Cruz in this month's issue. I'd like to draw your attention to a few facts about the father and the son, in no particular order, that explain the men they are in profound ways.


First and foremost, Ted was born into the socialized Canadian hospital system. "The elder Cruz doesn't recall any specific complaints, but he remembers paying either $100 or $300 extra so they could use the doctor of their choice."


Ted displayed a precocious intelligence at a young age. His often condescending demeanor may be explainable by the fact that his father repeatedly told young Ted: "... you have been gifted above any man that I know, and God has destined you for greatness."

When you're told that the Creator of All Things made you special, better, I imagine that may inform the way you interact with fellow humans.

Ted grew up in the shadow of his father's exile from Cuba, the communist threat to liberty clear and ever-present. "You know, Ted, when I lost my freedom in Cuba, I had a place to come to. If we lose our freedoms here, where are we going to go? There is no place to go."

If that sounds familiar, that's because you've heard Ted use the line in speeches.

It surprised me not at all to learn that, as a young man, Ted was a member of the "Constitutional Corroborators," a group that toured Rotary clubs, each member writing down a piece of the U.S. Constitution on placards until the founding document was recalled in its entirety.

Rafael makes many appearances these days as the man who molded a conservative warrior. When he's on the road, however, he prefers not to stay in hotels. Rather, he stays in the guest rooms of families eager to host a Cruz.

He takes his exercise in malls, where he walks the broad corridors in the early morning, before the shops have opened. "Inside the mall, the weather never changes," he says.

Apropos to absolutely nothing, I learned this little nugget about Tom DeLay. At an event hosted by the Montgomery County Eagle Forum, near Houston, the former House majority leader accepted a plaque etched with an eagle, declaring him a "champion of constitutional values."

"When he sees it," Mike Mooney writes, "his eyes light up, and for a brief second, he sounds like a little boy on Christmas morning. 'An eagle!' he says. 'I collect eagles!'"

Of course you do, Tom DeLay. Of course you do. Read the story here.

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Brantley Hargrove