General story Mark Silk: Spiritual Politics Opinion Politics

Cruz, the latest social conservative failure

Ted Cruz speaking at the 2011 Value Voters Summit
Ted Cruz speaking at the 2011 Value Voters Summit

Gage Skidmore

Ted Cruz speaking at the 2011 Value Voters Summit

Ted Cruz ran as the candidate of social conservatism and he lost. Like Mike Huckabee in 2008 and Rick Santorum in 2012. So what else is new?

What else is new is that Huckabee and Santorum lost to the anointed candidate of the Republican establishment. Sure they won the Iowa caucuses and hunks of the South, but by springtime the rest of GOP Nation had pretty much fallen into line.

Cruz couldn’t even make his social conservative candidacy work the year the establishment fell apart. Except for his home state of Texas, he was shut out of the old Confederacy by a New Yorker who barely mentioned the social issues or religion.

In most of the primaries and caucuses Cruz won, it was because he was the most right-wing, not because he was the paladin of anti-abortionism, traditional marriage, and religious liberty. Inside the big tent of Southern evangelicalism, what the altar call of nativist nationalism that got them to hit the sawdust trail.

Iowa and Kansas — which went for Cruz as they had for Huckabee and Santorum — are the last bastions of what passes for the religious right today. Elsewhere, Republicans are moving on. When your best shot at a social wedge issue is transgender restrooms, you should realize it’s time to move on too. Ted Cruz, caught in a Beltway time warp, didn’t.

About the author

Mark Silk

Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life. He is a Contributing Editor of the Religion News Service

8 Comments

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  • All Cruz had was his bathroom bit. And given that most Americans would fear running into him in the bathroom more than any transgender person, that wasn’t going to take him very far.

    Right wing Evangelicals got the monster they ordered. They may now repent at leisure.

  • “When your best shot at a social wedge issue is transgender restrooms, you should realize it’s time to move on.”

    Very well put. Haters like Dobson, Falwell, F Graham, Perkins and others will continue fighting to keep their cash cows alive though.

  • “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of earthly man, in whom there is NO salvation” (Psalm 147:4). Ditto!! ❤️☝️

  • They set themselves up: They claim to pray and fast. Then they invoke the fear of God’s wrath to help motivate their gullible followers to pray and fast (and send money). Then they fail. And then they mindlessly rinse/repeat ad infinitum.

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