Ted Cruz Isn’t Stupid — He Knows Exactly What He’s Doing
With his tweet about the Paris Climate Agreement, Cruz shows Trump’s fiercest supporters that he will carry the legacy.
I’m sure by now you’ve all read Ted Cruz’s tweet complaining about Biden rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement.
If not, here it is in all its stupid glory:
Everybody’s first reaction was to mock the Senator’s apparent ignorance of world affairs or his obvious hypocrisy, pretending to defend the interests of a city, Pittsburgh, whom he tried to disenfranchise two weeks ago. “How could he be so stupid?” is a question on many’s lips. People laughed at the blatant pandering to Trump’s “I love the uneducated” base, but there is more to this tweet than meets the eye. It is part of a series of tweets that, together, make up a clear message to the most violent of Trump’s supporters that Cruz will “continue the fight.”
First of all, Cruz isn’t stupid or ignorant. An Ivy League education is no definite proof of intelligence, but as an alumnus of Princeton and Harvard Law, Cruz has benefitted from an outstanding higher education.
Second, as hated and despised as he is, Cruz is an experienced political operator. He knows how D.C. functions as well as he understands his constituents and, more importantly, he set himself up as one of the leading figures of Trumpism. Some of the terrorists who stormed the Capitol on January 6 boasted that “Ted Cruz would want us to do this,” demonstrating the influence he holds over these people.
We cannot use Hanlon’s razor here; this principle doesn’t work for someone as evil and calculating as Cruz. He must have another purpose, and the follow-ups to his tweet tell us what it is.
On the surface
The tweet's first and obvious intent was to enrage every reasonable American, and it worked like a charm. From Seth Rogen to AOC to thousands more people online and in the media, everybody took Cruz’s bait. To use Trumpian terminology, he did “own the libs” with his tweet, probably enchanting a large proportion of his base. With Trump de-platformed, somebody had to take up the position of “troll-in-chief,” and Cruz stepped up immediately.
The smartest of his followers interpreted the tweet as a lure for liberals and laughed at the irony. The stupidest bought it at face-value. Everybody talked about it—a triple win for Cruz.
However, the question people should have been asking is: why Pittsburgh?
Why Pittsburgh of all places?
The first reason for his specific choice seems obvious when you know the man and his financial network. Cruz has long-standing ties with the fracking industry, a vital contributor to Pennsylvania’s economy and Cruz re-election funds.
His official Senate Twitter account posted a series of tweets attacking Biden’s climate-related executive actions, claiming they would harm America’s blue-collar workers in the oil and energy industries. This was Cruz’s official defence of his tweet; this is how he justifies talking about “Pittsburgh”.
His personal Twitter page, however, tells another story.
First, Cruz attacked Seth Rogen back, pitting the “elitist, Hollywood Democrats” against the real, blue-collar, union-member, Republican Americans. This is entirely in line with the GOP’s current rhetoric of demonising the Democratic party and the undefined “radical left-Antifa-BLM” block. It is also following the centuries-old anti-semitic trope of the “Hollywood Jew,” a theme Donald Trump had also played on.
After this dog-whistle retort, Cruz dropped another tweet which shows accurately what his intention was in choosing Pittsburgh:
I’m sure you thought of it, but you’d be wrong; no, it’s not a gift, the sticker is free. However, Pittsburgh’s flag colours are the answer to our question. Black and gold. Can you think of any organisation or group of people who use black and gold as their distinct symbology? If you thought about the Proud Boys, congratulations! The fascist organisation has been sporting these two colours for years, even forcing clothing company Fred Perry to discontinue a line of polo shirts to avoid any association with the alt-right group.
Choosing to pretend to defend Pittsburgh's interests fifteen days after objecting to Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes, effectively trying to disenfranchise the state’s population, was more than another vulgar hypocrisy in Cruz’s career. It was a deliberate, symbolic choice to pander to the most violent faction of the new right. His choice of words, “who do you stand with,” is also a clear echo to Trump’s now-infamous “stand back and stand by” order to the same Proud Boys.
It was a clear message sent to all Trump supporters that he, Ted Cruz, will carry on the legacy and will “continue the fight.”