On Wednesday, Sen. Cruz delivered a speech on the Senate floor regarding the death of Fidel Castro. Sen. Cruz reflected on Castro’s legacy of exploitation and oppression, and recommended a new path forward for Cuban American relations.
“Let me be absolutely clear, Mr. President,” said Sen. Cruz. “We’re not mourning the death of a romantic revolutionary or distinguished statesman. We’re not grieving for a protector of peace or a judicious steward of his people. Today, we are thankful. We are thankful that a man who has imprisoned, tortured, and degraded the lives of so many is no longer with us. A brutal dictator is dead, and I would like to pay tribute to the millions who have suffered at the hand of the Castro regime. We remember them and honor the brave souls who fought the lonely fight against the totalitarian Communist dictatorship he imposed on Cuba.”
Fidel Castro: Not All Bad
There, I said it: Fidel Castro's legacy is mixed. After decades of propaganda, it is too easy for Americans to reflexively associate Castro and his government with poverty, oppression, and murder. Strangely enough, the rest of the world doesn't see it that way.
It disappoints me gravely that Ted Cruz cannot or will not see both sides of Fidel Castro. El Líder may have been a brutal dictator who did all that stuff, but he also was a romantic revolutionary, distinguished statesman, and judicious steward of his people. He didn't imprison and execute his enemies for shits & giggles; he did it to defend the revolution that he and so many comrades had brought to fruition. Over a period of half a century, it is possible to destroy some people's lives and enrich many others', even if one is not a dictator.
In addition, like most of our high-profile public officials, Cruz conveniently forgets that the US has been in bed with régimes far more brutal than Castro's—or even Batista's—for more than a century. He is apparently OK with that fact.
Accounts of Cuba I have read and heard, from people I know and trust, conclude that the Cuban people are better off on the whole than in 1958. This remains true even after Cuba lost its Soviet sponsor and its economy contracted like a leaky balloon. It still grows enough food to feed everyone, and it produces a surplus of doctors.
Do we really need to go through the litany of good deeds the Revolution has done for Cuba? Por ejemplo: universal literacy, universal health care, community agriculture; a happier, healthier population that gets around on bicycles and other low-input transport (because gasoline is scarce)?
Cruz's insistence that Team Castro is unalloyed evil shows a dangerous kind of dualistic thinking: Everyone and everything is either all good or all bad. ObamaCare, in Cruzian terms, exceeds the mandates of the US Constitution and is thus 100% wickedness. In that either/or type of worldview, acknowledging ambiguity is a sign of weakness.
Cruz: Not All Bad?
Similarly, I do not and cannot believe that Cruz is all bad or even all stupid. Wrong? Frequently. Repugnant? Yes. Appalling? At times. But he is not purely evil or even purely stupid.
You may giggle at the notion of Cruz chairing the first Congressional hearing on artificial intelligence, but he did last week. His opening remarks aren't entirely moronic, and they show either that he understands what artificial intelligence is and its possible implications, or he had somebody write him a really good speech on the topic. He didn't even say that artificial intelligence is all good or all bad; he merely acknowledged that is is a powerful tool, and implementation of it must proceed with all due caution.
Cruz's email also announces proudly that he is co-sponsoring the SuperPAC Elimination Act of 2017. Uh...hold it right there, Ted. Yea to eliminating SuperPACs, especially the corporate kind, but Nay to eliminating limits on individual campaign contributions. See? He's not all bad, or all stupid; he's just wrong.
He and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) at least have provided some "justification" for removing those caps:
Right now, a large percentage—sometimes a majority—of campaign expenditures are made by independent third-party SuperPACs that are prohibited from communicating with candidates. That makes no sense. Candidates should define their own messages, and citizens should be free to support whatever candidates they choose to support. Restrictions to political contributions are always presented under the guise of preventing corruption and holding politicians accountable, when in fact they accomplish exactly the opposite: protecting incumbent politicians. This bill will put Americans on a level playing field with the media and politicians when it comes to influencing elections and exercising our First Amendment rights. Establishing unlimited contributions paired with immediate disclosure is the best way to promote transparency, eliminate the viability of SuperPACs going forward, and ensure that free speech is protected in the electoral process.
Perhaps if we all had about the same amount of income and wealth (i.e., more like Cuba), Cruz and Meadows would have a point. All their bill means is that the top 0.01% of the population will have even more direct influence on politics and policy.
"Level playing field"? That sounds kinda communistic to me, Ted. You might want to mind your words more carefully.