Prior to announcing his bid for the presidency, in which he plans on raising an army of Christian conservatives to remake the US, Texas’ Republican Sen. Ted Cruz was dumb founded by an unlikely heckler: a 3-year-old girl. Standing before a small group of people, Cruz was hell-bent on criticizing President Obama’s foreign and domestic policies. After claiming that signing a nuclear enrichment treaty with Iran would cause another Holocaust, he then declared, “The Obama economy is a disaster… Obamacare is a train wreck and the Obama-Clinton foreign policy of leading from behind-the whole world is on fire!” All of a sudden the little girl, seated on her mother’s lap in the front row, spoke up, and with great alarm exclaimed, “The world is on fire?” Stunned at the little girl’s inquiry if the world was really on fire, Cruz finally gathered himself, turned to her, and said, “The world is on fire, yes… Your world IS on fire!”
In the little girl’s mind, the world was literally on fire. Her imaginary world, though, might not be that different from what Cruz really believes, along with many Republicans. Both Cruz and Republicans thrive on imagining terrifying and destructive scenarios. So does Texas’ former governor Rick Perry, another likely candidate. In a recent video aimed at disparaging President Obama’s negotiations with Iran, Perry showed viewers an outdated map of the nation, with the Soviet Union surrounding it. Although Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkmenistan achieved independence twenty-five years ago, they still belonged to the Soviet Socialist Republics. In addition, the map showed an outdated portion of Israel, which might suggest the political map Perry used was much older. Together, Perry and Cruz act as if they are no longer in Texas by manipulating the fear responses of others or through showing incorrect spatial geographies.
In the fantastical and popular film, The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy is caught in a tornado and loses consciousness. She dreams of waking up in the Land of Oz. Turning to her little dog she says, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’renotinKansas anymore.” Indeed, the imaginary Land of Oz is filled with tiny Munchkins who fear wicked witches and their vicious flying monkeys. But in order to get back home, Dorothy must first follow a yellow brick road which leads to the magical Wizard of Oz. On her way, she befriends a scarecrow, a tin man and a lion. She is also hunted and eventually captured by a wicked witch that wants her magical red slippers. Through a series of comical and terrifying misadventures, she and her sidekicks finally meet the Wizard of Oz. However, the Wizard of Oz is exposed as a fraud, concealed behind a curtain. Eventually, Dorothy awakes from her dream and realizes the Land and Wizard of Oz was just another imaginary world.
But for Perry and Cruz, they never awoke from the Land of Oz. Backed and funded by wealthy oil cartels, Wall Street bankers and financial institutions – Goldman Sachs donating the most – and powerful right-wing and evangelical groups, they plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act and amnesty for immigrants. If elected, they will continue to corporatize public education, increase tax breaks for the rich, reverse voting rights and push for more unlimited campaign donations. Along with denying global warming, they also encouraged the fracking of natural gas inTexas with little regards to environmental issues. As for Russia and Iran, Perry and Cruz are still trapped in a Cold War mindset, wanting to send weapons and US troops to Ukraine. Both also claim that making a pact with Iran is like making a pact with the Devil; that it would bring about another fiery Holocaust, even a final Middle Eastern battle which will destroy the world.
(Regarding repealing the Affordable Care Act, Cruz just announced he will participate in the program. Since his wife has taken a leave of absence to help him run his campaign, Cruz’s family will no longer receive health coverage from her employer.)
Already, and if neither Perry nor Cruz are nominated by Republicans to run as the next President, some are envisioning Perry as a vice-presidential nominee, mainly for Texas’ electoral college votes and its corporate and wealthy donors (Texas’ economy is much better than most states and that it currently ranks number 20 inGDP among all nations of the world). As for Cruz, Republicans are planning to appoint him as Senate Majority Leader, serving as an “attack dog” against any of President Obama’s existing and future policies, including any Democratic-led legislation. In addition, Cruz’s father, Pastor Rafael Cruz, has instilled within him a strong belief that conservatism will provide an anointed, messianic political figure. Guess who that figure is? Both also believe the Obama Administration is a time of “wicked rule.” Accusing the administration of “tyranny,” it can only be purified by fire.
Perhaps this is why Cruz launched his presidential bid at the late Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. Along with giving marching orders to conservative Christians, he wants to “restore America as the City On a Hill.” The City On a Hill, though, was established at the expense of millions of Indigenous Peoples, and carries the meaning of Predestination-being chosen by God to dominate the world. No wonder the little girl was frightened by Cruz’s fiery rhetoric. Yet, she was assured that he would be the one who will put the fire out. But in reality, isn’t Cruz just another messianic Oz hiding behind a fear-based curtain of morality? What about his fiery brand of evangelicalism and connection to Purifying Fire International? Will Perry actually transform the US into a place “where there isn’t any trouble to be found?” (Texas ranks almost last in child poverty and high school drop-out rates). Just imagine a Land of Cruz and instead of a passive little dog a vicious attack dog?
Only vigilant and participatory democracy will prevent Perry from saying to Cruz: “Toto, we’re not in Texas anymore.”