Just as Batman reluctantly chose unconventional methods to achieve righteous goals, so too has Texas Senator Ted Cruz, including filibusters, citizen petitions, public and private attacks on party leadership, and others. In fact, his current social media campaign – #MakeDCListen – is an indictment on the entire “inside the beltway” culture.
Throughout the Batman mythology there exists a deeper, more fundamental question about free societies: can a free people fight evil while remaining above it? Or is the nature of freedom such that even the “good guys” become seduced by political power and authority? Both Bruce Wayne and Senator Ted Cruz would most likely say the latter, but because they’re suspicious, not authoritarian. Senator Cruz’ most widely used critique of the president is that Obama is dramatically overstepping his authority with the aggressive use of executive orders, extra-legislative regulations, and his capricious changes to Obamacare.
Furthermore, while the caped crusader fought crime well outside the boundaries of a “civilized justice system” and thus suffered recriminations and a hit to is reputation, secretly law enforcement and large swaths of decent society countenanced his “dirty” work. Similarly, GOP leaders such as Senator McCain, Representative Peter King, as well as pundits such as Karl Rove and George Will, have publicly criticized the Cruz legislative strategy, but among GOP circles they will likely acknowledge that they desperately hope Obamacare fails.
Interestingly, one of the Cruz proposals that seemed extreme a month ago – to delay Obamacare for all by one year – is now being advocated by Democratic Senators facing reelection.
Thus, here we are – an electorate that deserves better from our political leaders but refuse to demand better (open question if I am speaking of Gotham or Washington, DC). We need a symbol, someone who is above reproach.
Senator Cruz attended all the correct schools and can check the ethnic minority box that is so sought-after these days. However, he eschewed the traditional down-the-line liberalism that so often accompanies the pedigree, possibly because he never suffered from upper middle-class guilt. Senator Cruz is the son of Cuban immigrants, as is well known, and he never knew the luxury of entitlement, an obvious difference from Bruce Wayne, who grew up with privilege.
So what do we do? Can we tolerate an avenging angel in the Senate? Will he hurt the GOP as much or more than he will help? These are all fair questions, considering Batman went to great lengths to keep his identity secret while Cruz, arguably, has chosen to embrace notoriety to benefit his personal ambitions.
Other challenges include how we can appeal for help. In the Batman story the police chief would send out the bat-signal from the police station rooftop. Batman would see the iconic bat symbol against the night sky. What would be the Cruz symbol? It seems that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell must think of a new way to ask for Cruz’s help while criticizing his efforts publicly. Unfortunately, we know that Senator Cruz is not usually available at night because we have seen him read bedtime stories to his children on the Senate floor during an all night pseudo-filibuster.