Ted Cruz: An Advocate for “Common Sense,” not “Political Correctness”

by Madeline Ramaley

Before Ted Cruz’s Town Hall in New Hampshire even began, the atmosphere in the Peterborough Town Hall was vibrant and patriotic. A giant American flag was set in the middle of the stage and large screens on either side flashed through commercials and ads endorsing Cruz. Dramatic music swelled in the background and surprisingly no one seemed to be phased by the fact the ads were addressed to “The People of Iowa.” As the political ads faded and country music began to play, the New Hampshire Speaker of the House and co-chair of Cruz’s presidential campaign, Bill O’Brien, came onstage to rally the crowd and introduce Ted Cruz. But before he did either, he led the entire audience in a pledge of allegiance. As everyone stood up and began to recite the pledge, it was very obvious that extreme patriotism and “Judeo-Christian values” were going to be a major focus of this event.

“God bless the Great State of New Hampshire!” Ted Cruz exclaimed as he strode onto the stage wearing a denim shirt tucked into his jeans, cowboy boots, and a dark leather belt. He began by praising the Republican Party for having so many “young, talented candidates” running for the presidency. He then immediately contrasted these candidates with the “crazy, socialist” contenders from the Democratic Party, which was very well received by the audience members, who cheered in agreement.

Cruz based his speech on returning to the “common sense principles” of America. He asserted that America is in a state of crisis because our Constitutional rights are being jeopardized. He claimed he wants to take America back to its “free market principles” and the “common sense principles;” he promised to do this through the application of his three main points, which he outlined very carefully. This made the speech very easy to follow and everyone in the audience was able to fully invest in what he was saying.

One of the core principles was providing jobs for the American people, which he claimed he would make his first priority as president. As he continued to speak on this subject he referenced a meme he saw recently, which I found especially interesting considering the majority of his audience were middle aged and not the sort of people one would expect to know about memes. The meme to which Cruz referred explained “Reaganomics” as starting a company out of your parents’ garage, and then decried “Obamanomics” as moving into your parents’ garage. This, of course, received great laughter from the audience. While everyone may not have understood exactly what a meme was, Cruz’s message came across clearly: he would be completely different from Obama as the second coming of Reagan.

Many times throughout the course of his speech Cruz compared the present political climate to the time before Reagan took office. He proclaimed that today’s America is very similar to that of the 1970s, and much like America then needed saving from Jimmy Carter, Cruz is the Reagan who will rescue us from Obama. In equating himself to Reagan in this giant metaphor Cruz appealed not only to voters who dislike Obama, but also to an older audience of voters who favored Reagan and strongly disliked Carter.

As his speech progressed, Cruz touched upon defending constitutional rights, notably the second and tenth amendments, adding “or as President Obama calls it, ‘the what?.’” He touched upon reserving power to the state governments, rebuilding the military, securing our borders, and repealing Common Core. His final point before turning to audience questions was the need to restore America’s international authority. He focused on the military, specifically citing the issue of women serving on the front line of the armed forces. He called it “dangerous” and “immoral,” claiming the United States has had enough with “political correctness,” especially within the military. He ended his speech by saying we needed to get away from political correctness and back to “common sense” in order to return to the “Judeo-Christian values” on which this country was founded.

Cruz then took a good portion of his questions from small children, who were seemingly planted by their parents. When asked by a child his views on improving America’s infrastructure, Cruz responded that all such decisions should be left to state governments and went even further to say that the entire Department of Education should be abolished. From here he said that the power should be given not only to the states to decide what should be taught in schools, but to local governments to decide what their specific region should teach. When asked by Emerson’s very own Ana Tenewitz on the “inequality of racial groups, the LGBTQ community, and women,” Cruz sidestepped the question and took the opportunity to discuss economic inequality again: “How do we deal with inequality? Number one, we end all the corporate welfare, all the subsidies, all the bailouts, all the mandates. But number two, we create an environment where small businesses are growing and advancing and there’s opportunity.” So, yes, while Cruz did talk about inequality, he ignored Ana’s actual question and morphed it into something he wanted to answer.

To conclude the Town Hall, Cruz asked the audience to “commit to lift this country up to continue this awakening and spirit of revival” and to bring America “back from the abyss.” Cruz was able to sway the Evangelical voters in Iowa with his Evangelical values, and it was made clear in his Town Hall that he planned to continue using this tactic throughout his campaign.

Whether you agree with Cruz’s policies or not, you can’t discount his intelligence. He is an extraordinarily convincing speaker, knows policy and the Constitution incredibly well, and was able to answer every question (though perhaps not directly) with knowledge and insight. His Town Hall was certainly interesting, “with liberty and justice for all.”

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The Importance of Communication

by Nichelle Lyster

 

During the CPLA trip to Washington, D.C., we spent some time observing a bill debate concerning the streamlining of the U.S. mining permit system in the House of Representatives Chambers. Two representatives, one from Colorado and one from California, argued the bill. Both had strong arguments for why the bill should or should not pass, and watching the spectacle prompted for me yet another realization of the dire importance of effective communication. I tended to agree with the argument of the Californian representative, but he was unable to clearly or effectively describe his reasoning.

Why aren’t communication skills more highly valued in all professions?

Communication literacy in politics and campaign rhetoric need more attention. The people writing, reading, and debating bills and educating the public all have something to gain from taking the art of communication seriously. Often, after I am asked my major, I am met with another question: “What does that mean, to study Communication?” I usually answer that it depends entirely on the area you apply it to, but the common thread is that there is an entire aspect of human engagement that is highly underestimated and understudied.

Emerson’s involvement and dedication to bridging communication and politics is amazingly refreshing. Meeting with Emerson Alumni and the students enrolled in the program in D.C. inspired me to continue to my pursuit and advocacy for closer attention to communication. It was wonderful to get a closer look at the Congressional process and remember that those writing and voting on bills that directly effect our lives were once students as well. I hope that the students of Emerson and other colleges who inherit the positions of decision making will be more aware of the importance of the stories we tell and way in which we tell them.

Day 2 – The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia

by Rahul Thayil

 

On the second day of our trip to Washington, the CPLA representatives and Bird Street students went to the Saudi Arabian Embassy, located on New Hampshire Avenue. We were greeted warmly and seated in a large conference room to watch an introductory video that discussed the pre-9/11 interactions between the USA and Saudi Arabia and the development and continued friendship between the two countries at present.

We also had the opportunity to speak to a key embassy official concerning the intercommunication and synergy between the two nations. He delved into culture, religion, and the interwoven pasts of these two countries. Later, five of us were dressed Saudi Arabian clothing, varying from traditional dress to modern garments, to further demonstrate the culture and sophistication of Saudi Arabian society.

Overall, we had a positive experience at the Saudi Arabian embassy with little hassle, and were given a unique view of Saudi Arabia from the perspective of its diplomatic representation.

Networking in Washington

by Robynn Singer-Baefsky

 

The Mansion on O Street is a hidden treasure in the middle of the historical Dupont Circle district of Washington, D.C. This peculiar house has over one hundred rooms, seventy secret doors, and is filled to the brim with memorabilia. It was the perfect spot for the Emerson networking event for Emerson students currently enrolled in the Washington, D.C. internship program, CPLA alumni, Emerson faculty, and those of us who visited Washington with CPLA in October.

President Lee Pelton spoke at the event and addressed Emerson’s recent accomplishments, including its new ranking as the number-one journalism school in the U.S. He opened up the room for questions (though time was not necessarily permitting), and nodded and smiled when he was immediately asked about the Boston Globe article discussing the future of the Colonial Theatre. It seemed the question was staged, considering his decision to field questions and the nature of his response; he wanted to address the matter to people who would spread his message to others in the Emerson Mafia.

During the networking part of the evening, people split off into groups to speak about their ambitions and interests and make professional connections.  It was a fun and interesting (albeit slightly overwhelming) place to meet people with similar interests, or who had graduated Emerson with the same degree that I am working for.

The networking event was an eye-opening chance to see what an Emerson education and hard work can do.  The alumni in attendance epitomize the opportunities Emerson offers, and what doors open simply by being a graduate of the college.

Visiting Congress

by Arianna Conte, CPLA Treasurer

 

No trip to Washington D.C is complete without a trip to the U.S Congress, and CPLA had the opportunity to sit in on proceedings in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. During the Senate session, we witnessed Senator Bernie Sanders (I, VT) and Senator John McCain (R, AZ) fist bump and hug; a truly historic moment. After that, the ten of us left the Senate with high hopes for the House, considering it was the day of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s testimony for her role in Benghazi.

We were faced with one of the longest lines I have ever seen. It took over half an hour to even reach the House chamber, presumably because everyone, ourselves included, wished to see where Hillary Clinton was called to testify. When we finally entered the House, the room was far from filled and two representatives were having and unexpectedly heated debate regarding US mining policies. The sponsor of the bill, from Wyoming, asked for increased mining of essential minerals in the United States in order to hinder the country’s dependence on international minerals. The other representative, from California, opposed the bill and stated that abandoned mines should be re-purposed for mineral drilling in an effort to be more environmentally conscious. We watched for about fifteen minutes before moving on to the next event in our packed itinerary.

This bill hearing was on my mind all day. It reminded me that what is important to me, what is considered a necessary issue in my part of the country, might not be a priority somewhere else, and vice versa. As a native New Englander mining nearly never crosses my mind, but it was clearly an important issue to those two representatives. It was a clear reminder for me that the United States government is a complicated, multi-faceted entity charged with the task of leaving the opinions of millions in the hands of a handful of people. Sitting in on this meeting gave a valuable view of the less-glamorous parts of government, and I am happy to have witnessed it.

Iceland Through A Lithuanian’s Eyes

By Demi Vitkute

I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to go to Iceland with CPLA. Iceland is the most fascinating country I’ve ever visited, and from stunning, untouched nature to extremely intelligent and humble people, it surprised me in many ways. I always considered Lithuania small with a population of only three million people, but Iceland’s population is only 320 thousand, and 200 thousand of those people live in and around the capital city of Reykjavik. The country’s size is disproportionally large given its small population. The island is 103,000 square kilometers, or 40,000 square miles. It’s close to a quarter larger than Ireland, about the size of the state of Ohio.

We visited a professor at the University of Iceland, who upon learning that I was Lithuanian asked, “Do you remember that Iceland was the first country to recognize Lithuania’s independence?” Iceland did so on February 11, 1991. He explained that other countries at the time said that no one would remember this event, but Iceland only cared that Lithuania remembered. And we do. “Small countries stand up for each other,” said the professor.

We also had a chance to meet Mr. Hedinn, a policy analyst at the Iceland Prime Minister’s office who previously spent five years working on mental health for the World Health Organization. His book is currently a bestseller in Iceland, and he’s planning on translating and publishing it in many different languages and countries. Rarely do you meet people who can be called role models, and who are so inspiring that you want to be them. Without a doubt, Mr. Hedinn is one of those people. We discussed with him a variety of topics ranging from philosophy to gay rights, and made a note to ourselves to pick up some Marcus Aurelius books, since Hedinn kept on referencing them.

I asked Mr. Hedinn what countries, in his opinion, had the worst conditions regarding mental health institutions. He said Albania and Lithuania. It wasn’t easy hearing this about my native country, but it was eye opening.

Between our meetings and visits, the group was able to explore the country independently. We went on an eight and a half hour excursion to the Golden Circle and saw the geysers, waterfalls, mountains, and glaciers. Every time I look at the photo I took of the Gullfoss Waterfall, it reminds me what it felt like to stand at the edge of the earth.