Cruz's Constitutionalism Trumps Trump's Trumpism

Source: Reason | June 2016 | Jacob Sullum

The Texas senator is the least scary major-party option.

“If you want someone to grab a beer with,” Ted Cruz said during the third Republican presidential debate last October, “I may not be that guy. But if you want someone to drive you home, I will get the job done.”

The president as Uber driver is a refreshingly modest view of the job, especially compared to the grandiose dreams of Donald Trump. The boastful billionaire probably would not drive you home, and he definitely would not have a beer with you. Although he once had a vodka named after him, Trump does not drink, which may be just as well, given the appalling things he says when he’s sober.

Trump’s impromptu approach to public policy suggests that if he were in the driver’s seat, he would be guided by nothing but his own whims. Cruz, by contrast, assures us that his map would be the Constitution, and that difference alone makes him clearly preferable to the Republican front-runner.

“I’ve been passionate my whole life about the Constitution,” the Texas senator says, and he seems to mean it. Cruz’s campaign website mentions the Constitution more than 1,300 times, compared to the Trump site’s paltry 35.

The difference is qualitative as well as quantitative. Given the blatantly unconstitutional policies Trump has endorsed, such as censoring the Internet, closing down mosques, and barring Muslims from entering the country, I doubt he has read the Constitution. If he did, it did not make much of an impression.

Cruz, by contrast, is a Harvard Law School graduate who clerked for Chief Justice William Rehnquist and argued nine cases before the Supreme Court as the solicitor general of Texas. “We will defend the Constitution, every single word of it,” he said during the September 16 GOP debate, and he has shown a broader interest in that task than most politicians.


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