Cass Sunstein recently published two short essays-here and here-on the current political struggles between “tea-party” conservatives and progressives. In the first essay, Sunstein attempts to link our current political fracturing with the famous standoff between Whittaker Chambers and Alger Hiss. His second essay, which compares Whittaker Chambers and Ayn Rand’s divergent philosophies and then links their disagreements to various tendencies within present-day conservatism, is much better.
“Norman Podhoretz has done us all a service by pointing to the unvarying political content of the proclamation of impending doom. The person making such a statement is asking that power someone else has be given to him or to her.”
- Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Coping: Essays on the Practice of Government
“We’re nearing the edge of a cliff, and our window to turn things around, my friends, I don’t think it is long. I don’t think it is 10 years. We have a couple of years to turn the country around or we go off the cliff to oblivion.”
- U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, speaking to the Values Voters Summit
Call it what one will. “Populist” works. So does “alarmist.” But “conservative” does not—not to describe the doomsday rhetoric that has overtaken a certain strain of political figures who nonetheless claim exclusive title to that label. Cruz is one; Glenn Beck (“the violent left is coming to our streets … to smash, to kill, to bankrupt, to destroy …”) another. It is too given to the cult of personality, to the concentration of power, to convulsions anathema to the very idea of conservatism.
So the House has voted to curb the food stamp program. It has decided to send a “no funding for Obamacare” budget bill to the Senate, and Senator Ted Cruz has vowed to use every available maneuver to protect that bill. Everyone in this town knows that these are moves without an endgame and without a purpose except to placate the let’s-pretend-populism-and-then-we-fundraise crowd. I warmly embrace two shrewd observers who (like me) despair of the insanity but (unlike me) have thought of a better way. I end, as usual, on a despondent note.
With the increasing prominence of Senator Ted Cruz and the possibility that he might run for President, there has been a renewed interest in whether Cruz, who was born to an American mother and a non-American father in Canada, is a natural born citizen. At the time of his birth, a federal statute made a baby born in his situation an American citizen at birth. The question is whether that makes Cruz a “natural born citizen” under the U.S. Constitution.
Some commentators have sought to make points against both Cruz and originalism. One argues that Cruz would be a natural born citizen under all theories of constitutional interpretation, except his own – originalism.
Over at the Originalism Blog, Mike Ramsey has a long post discussing the issue. While anyone interested in the issue should read the entire post, the summary is that Cruz is a natural born citizen under an originalist interpretation of the Constitution. According to Ramsey, the meaning of the phrase is a person who is a U.S. citizen at birth under the laws at the time of his birth. Thus, Cruz is a natural born citizen.