Poll after poll has revealed a significant shift occurring in public perception over the last few decades, a shift that has become impossible to ignore in the Era of Trump. As mainstream media figures increasingly embrace activism over journalism, Americans’ trust in the media has crumbled. Formerly unimpeachable outlets are now viewed with deep skepticism — and in this Texas Sen. Ted Cruz sees an opportunity to advance conservatism.
The second-term senator, 2016 Republican presidential candidate, and best-selling author of “A Time for Truth” spoke candidly about pushing back against the forceful current of the media’s leftist agenda during a June 2019 interview with Daily Wire Editor Emeritus Ben Shapiro.
“One of the great virtues of the age of Trump,” Cruz told Shapiro, is that “fake news has been exposed.”
“Do you remember a few years ago people [would say], ‘Oh the news isn’t biased’? Nobody argues that anymore,” said the senator. The establishment media has become “so plainly unhinged,” he said. “You watch these reporters foaming at the mouth, you watch these networks — they hate Trump so much.”
While Cruz and Shapiro agree that President Trump falls short on a number of accounts and both have leveled their fair share of criticism against him, the degree to which the mainstream media has targeted Trump has been “revealing,” said Cruz.
The “naked, irrational hatred of the Media Left directed at Trump,” he said, is “revealing of who they are.”
“They are full-on partisans,” the senator said, promoting a party that is “a throwback to old and failed ideas.”
“They will put on the hat and they will cheer for whatever leftist Democratic nominee, and they will do everything they can to collate the information and to pitch a propaganda war. For those of us who value freedom, we’ve got to counteract that,” Cruz told Shapiro.
The big question, the senator stressed, is how to speak truth in the face of such an overwhelming media bombardment — how does one get past the “gatekeepers” and reach voters with the logic of conserative policy and values?
“The media doesn’t want any of those messages to get across,” he said. “And so that means it’s our jobs. And we’ve got to do it in ways that get around the gatekeeper.”
This effort, Cruz understands from personal experience, requires persistence because, as he put it, “it is a virtue of politics and the media to get whacked in the head with a stick and keep on going.”
The Texas Senator has often had a target on his back, notably during the 2016 GOP Presidential Election, when he found himself engaged in a two-front battle with both the left-wing media and the man who would go on to win it all, Trump.
“Did I like what Trump said in the primary? No,” Cruz admitted. “That being said, he’s not the first person to throw attacks at me, and he won’t be the last person.”
But of course political stamina is not enough on its own. A movement has to have a message — and the message of conservatism, Cruz argued, is broadly appealing: “faith, family, patriotism, and hard work.”
That message also has to have practical, political applications. Conservatism, Cruz contends, provides just that, offering limited government solutions to the nation’s biggest problems.
“The tax cuts, and [regulatory] reform is a big, big part of solving the problem,” said Cruz, “and I think beyond that we need structural solutions.”
Among those solutions, Cruz suggested, is implementing term limits. “I’m a passionate advocate for term limits because it structurally changes how Washington works,” said Cruz.
The senator’s stance on term limits has only strengthened since his time in office.
He explained to Shapiro, “I used to be a supporter of term limits until I got in the Senate. And now, I’m a thousand times more a supporter of term limits.” This, Cruz said, is because he has come face-to-face with the uncomfortable fact that politics is “Hollywood for ugly people.”
“I don’t think [the current system] recognizes the reality of the political process today,” Cruz said. “Number one, there are massive advantages with incumbency — incumbency in terms of free media, in terms of money, in terms of infrastructure. Because what I’ve seen, the dominant instinct, Ben, in the Senate, and it’s true in the House also, is risk-aversion.”
He continued, “You know there’s an old joke that politics is Hollywood for ugly people. There’s enormous truth to that. You’ve got old, fat, bald guys who were the unpopular kids in high school, who suddenly get elected to Congress and they go to a cocktail party and they’re handsome and they’re witty and they tell a joke and everyone laughs. And it becomes like a narcotic. And what happens is incumbent members of Congress, their dominant focus is ‘I must get re-elected no matter what.’”
The result of limiting terms would be fresh minds and fresh faces who are more “responsive to the people because the elected officials are not just obsessed with staying there for life.”
Senator Cruz also thinks it’s time to stop the runaway train of entitlements.
Entitlements, particularly Social Security, are in the “no-touch” zone for most leaders in Washington, including Trump during his first four years in office. But for Cruz, addressing these bloated programs is “critical to the solution.”
“I think what politicians in Washington are doing right now is irresponsible, both parties, because they’re allowing Social Security to careen towards insolvency,” said the senator.
Now, as Cruz points out, is an ideal time to make some of these “structural” changes. According to a 2019 poll, only 13% of millennials are expecting to use Social Security for retirement and more than 70% of people of all ages are worried it won’t be there when they need it.
Cruz’s answer to the looming disaster is a comprehensive, four-step plan that involves adjusting benefits for the upcoming generation but not changing the plan for seniors who are heavily reliant on it. “We need to honor those promises,” said Cruz.
In the end, if conservatives want to see substantive progress, it will take conviction and commitment.
“We need to have the same focus, the same zealotry for freedom that the Left has for government,” said Cruz. “That’s the fundamental fight.”