Ted Cruz visits Sabato’s Introduction to American Politics class

Texas senator promotes 'opportunity conservatism'


Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, spoke to a packed Wilson Hall auditorium Wednesday as a guest lecturer for Politics Prof. Larry Sabato’s Introduction to American Politics class.

Cruz began his lecture by speaking briefly about America’s lack of economic growth since President Barack Obama took office, a period which he labeled the “Great Stagnation.” He then spoke briefly on the importance of defending constitutional liberties before turning to student questions.

The question and answer session led to a varied conversation which covered recent events in Ukraine, the Affordable Care Act, the minimum wage and the future of the GOP.

Cruz told the young audience the ACA was threatening their chances of employment and funneling their finances to the older, wealthier American population. He cited his father, who came to America as a Cuban immigrant and worked several hours a week washing dishes, as an example.

“If my Dad were washing dishes today, the odds are very high he would have lost his job,” he said. “And if he was lucky enough not to lose his job, the odds are enormously high that he would have had his hours forcibly reduced to 28, 29 hours a week, because the Obamacare threshold is 30 [hours a week].

Cruz said small business owners around the country have expressed that the biggest thing in the way of increasing hiring is the ACA.

On the minimum wage debate in Washington, Cruz said studies have shown raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would lead to about one million American citizens losing their jobs.

“The data are compelling that raising the minimum wage ends up hurting the people who are struggling the most, and I don’t think it’s a policy that makes sense,” he said.

Cruz labeled his political philosophy as “opportunity conservatism.”

“Every policy we think about, we talk about, should focus on the most vulnerable,” he said.

Cruz also responded to the Wednesday Supreme Court decision striking down limits on aggregate federal campaign contributions, saying it was a victory for First Amendment rights and everyday citizens.

“It is virtually impossible to beat an incumbent,” he said. “Campaign finance laws were designed to make it fully impossible because it limits the ability of individuals to engage in speech.”

Cruz, who recently introduced a bill that would give states the power to define marriage laws, said actions against state marriage laws were also a threat against American federalism.

Sabato said Cruz’s stance on gay marriage reflects a shift within the GOP in the last five years.

“Five years ago, you wouldn’t find a Republican who is willing to accept same-sex marriage even with a referendum in the state,” he said.

Sabato said he was pleased by the speech, but said Cruz and all Republicans will face difficulties in 2016 in their attempts to appeal to young voters.

“He was an electric speaker, and its clear why he’s done as well as he has in politics and why he’s being touted as a presidential candidate,” he said. “Any Republican has a steep hill to climb with young people because of social issues.”

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