Ted Cruz’s Tin Ear <br>Rings an Off Note <br>On New York Values
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
Ted Cruz, by my lights, was doing pretty well in this presidential campaign until he started attacking Donald Trump for having “New York values.” What in the Statue of Liberty do you figure the tin-eared Texan could’ve been thinking?
If he was thinking.
Just on the numbers, after all, being a New Yorker is nothing for which any presidential politician needs to apologize. New York has produced more presidents than any other state — seven out of 44 total. (Grover Cleveland, an ex-sheriff of Erie County who became mayor of Buffalo and then governor, won non-consecutive terms so is both the 22nd and 24th president.)
The list includes three other ex-governors, Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt and Martin Van Buren. Add in the wily Whig, Millard Fillmore, and our one-time port collector, Chester Arthur (who, some insist, was, like Cruz, born in Canada).
To what, if not New York values, does Mr. Cruz attribute such electoral success — the vapors of the Hudson? Could it not be that New York values are actually perceived as a virtue across our glorious land?
It’s not entirely clear, either, that The Donald is evincing New York values. He’s running a protectionist campaign on trade and immigration. Those planks are about as far from New York values as it’s possible to get.
New York’s is a capacious and welcoming spirit, symbolized by the Statue of Liberty astride New York Harbor. In rankings of diversity, New York State beats Texas, and New York City tops any major Texas town.
Mr. Cruz has lately been grumbling about the neoconservatives (a movement launched largely by New York intellectuals). He lashed out the other day at the “billionaire Republican donors” who “actively despise our base.”
How bizarre that New York values are being ridiculed by a candidate with a proud Cuban heritage. When America went to war for Cuba’s freedom, the most famous victory was won by the Rough Riders led by — wouldn’t you know it — a New Yorker.
Yes, Teddy Roosevelt was, whatever his martial virtues, a progressive. He was one in spirit the first time he ran for president, and by formal party affiliation when he ran under the Bull Moose banner.
Yet I’ll warrant that Mr. Cruz would’ve voted for TR. He won the vice presidency on the ticket of William McKinley, who signed the gold standard into law. Its biggest backers were from New York, and Mr. Cruz is today its most forthright supporter.
No doubt there are those who will suggest that New York has abandoned the values it so long evinced. Its progressivism evolved into an ideology that is socialistic and anti-liberty, of which its onerous gun-control laws are an example.
Gun control, though, isn’t a New York value. Our 1788 convention at Poughkeepsie to ratify the United States Constitution also specifically declared that the people maintained the right to keep and bear arms.
New York’s taxes may be high, but it’s not a net taker from the federal till. On the contrary, according to a chart in theAtlantic.com, it’s one of the biggest net subsidizers — while Mr. Cruz’s state, Texas, gets back more from the federal government than it sends to it in taxes.
No one is saying New York is perfect. It has regulated away much of the dynamism that for decades made its economy such a creator of jobs and wealth. It is in many areas being outcompeted by, say, Texas. Is Texas aping New York’s values?
The 2016 presidential campaign, in any event, is young yet. A lot can happen, including, to judge by recent reports, the possibility that Mayor Bloomberg could yet enter the race. Supposedly, he’s commissioned yet another poll of his prospects.
I’ve lost count of the typewriters I’ve burned out urging Bloomberg to throw his hat in the ring. If he finally does so as an independent, it’s possible he could end up facing Hillary Clinton for the Democrats and Trump for the Republicans.
Imagine that. Three New Yorkers at the top of the ballot.
That would leave Ted Cruz the option of running as a write-in candidate. Whatever happens, the candidate who best embodies the true historical New York values is the one who’ll get my vote.
This column first appeared in the New York Post.