Ted Cruz is threatening to shut down the government unless teenagers stop having sex. In the race to the right in the GOP primary, he's sprinted past Rand Paul's libertarian philosophy and seemingly put in the first official bid for the party's empty anarchist slot. Hard to imagine a more vivid anarchist's dream than a landscape littered with citizens (or whatever they call them in anarchy land) engaged in free sex unencumbered with any government representatives or regulations.
Okay, he wouldn't put it like that. Cruz would say that he's trying to stop funding for Planned Parenthood and will stop any budget coming through Congress with funding for the group. He can't get enough votes to stop Planned Parenthood funding but he might be able to get enough votes withheld from any budget that includes it. He can hold over opponents the threat of government shutdown, once again playing that popular Fall classic of chicken with the American economy.
Cruz is courting the Republican base which is literally dying off. People in their 70s and 80s really like this sort of courage in the face of poor women with the temerity to have sex. Meanwhile, young women who are dealing with the complicated reality of being female are the ones who are literally raising the next generation. They're outraged that he'd try to take away one of their rare healthcare options.
Cruz and the neo-theocrats (which would not be such a good band name), are not just pushing an agenda. By courting the dying by alienating the young, they're not just putting the economy at risk. They're hastening the demise of the Republican Party.
You might push back to say that Republicans still have - and conceivably will have for some time - Congress and a majority of state governor's mansions and legislative bodies. You're right. They won't lose their hold on certain swaths of this country any faster than the confederacy lost its ideological grip on the south. But in terms of serious bids for the White House (and Congress within a decade), they're out.
So why would Ted Cruz do this? He could just be stupid but I don't think so.
In her book, The March of Folly, Barbara Tuchman defines folly as the pursuit of policies that are harmful to the institution. Why did Renaissance popes do the very thing that seemed to encourage the Protestant Revolution? Well, their lives of excess and wealth may have been bad for the church but they were pretty delightful for them. If you have to live during the early 16th century, it's pretty nice to do it as pope.
Why do folks like Huckabee and Cruz make so many odd and outrageous comments guaranteed to alienate the average voter? There is good money to be made in speaking fees and talk radio contracts. While you need roughly half of the 300 million Americans to win an election, you need only one percent of them to win a lucrative contract at Fox. Their lives of excess and wealth may be bad for the Republican Party, but they are pretty delightful for them. And so the race to the right continues.