Ted Cruz’s pathetic non-filibuster caused me to realize something about the man: He’s the pure embodiment of right wing resentment. Not just what most liberals think of when we consider right wing resentment—resentment of women and racial minorities gaining power, largely—but the more abstract right wing resentment that, while not as prominent as the racism/sexism, is still a major driving force in the culture wars: The resentment and envy of “cool”. To be clear, this kind of resentment is everywhere in American culture—witness the relentless attacks and bile poured out over the fact that “hipsters” exist and seem to actually enjoy their lives, which is apparently high treason in the country—but this kind of grumpy resentment/envy finds its purest expression on the right. From Rush Limbaugh’s endless obsession with the evils of the “24-year-old woman” to the desperate attempts to create a “conservative Woodstock” to the grinding, obsessive hatred of Lena Dunham to the pitiable attempts to create a rock-and-roll conservatism to the very phrase “South Park conservative” to Marco Rubio going on and on about how he loves a rapper that died right when kids in college today were in diapers, the message is clear: Conservatives know liberals are cooler, and they really, really resent that. No matter how much they clutch their DVDs of “Duck Dynasty” to their chests and insist that tasteless, sex-negative mediocrity is where it’s at, they aren’t convincing outsiders, and not really convincing themselves.
Which is where Ted Cruz steps in. I realize now that he probably has an unhealthy obsession with me-too-ness when it comes to liberal cool. (Which, by the way, is graded on a curve. A steep fucking curve. Barack Obama is only “cool” by D.C. standards, but not by real world ones. In the real world, he is a dorky dad.) It’s clear that he thinks he’s on the same path as Obama: single term Senator who, in a whirlwind of excitement, runs a legendary campaign into the Oval Office. I bet he even falls asleep dreaming of the inspired young artist who will give him icon status like Obama has.
Needless to say, he’s delusional, because this kind of energy, as the poster indicates, is only driven by hope, and conservatism is, particularly in recent years, an ideology focused on stripping hope away. But no one ever said the wingnut envy was a rational emotion.
Now this fake filibuster. It’s not particularly hard to see that Cruz is hoping that what worked for Wendy Davis will work for him. Pretty much every male right winger in Texas wakes up and falls asleep muttering “that bitch, that bitch, who does she think she is, oh she thinks she’s so hot, but I’m just gonna call her ‘Abortion Barbie’ that’ll wipe that smile off her too-pretty face, that bitch, that bitch” about Davis these days, because she had the gall to remind the country what total assholes right wing Texans are, and did it while looking fabulous the entire time. The chance that Cruz is not part of this obsessive anger circle jerk is somewhere between 0% and .01%. This is a man who wouldn’t study with people who went to “minor Ivies” in law school. This is a man who spends all of his waking hours tabulating status points, and the fact that all the degrees in the world can’t buy you the kind of casual charisma of a Barack Obama or a Wendy Davis has got to chap his hide.
So yeah, it strikes me as unlikely to be a coincidence that just a few short months after a state senator from his own state got national attention and adoration for holding a genuine filibuster against a massive bill to restrict health care access, Cruz is going to hold a fake filibuster against a massive bill to expand health care access? No, it is not a coincidence. That his people made sure to get the press to mention the color of his sneakers confirms it. This is a man who is strongly, deeply motivated by envy, and stuck on the notion that he can just take what other people have, even if what other people have happens to be “abstract personal qualities that aren’t easily replicated”.
What Cruz fails to understand is part of what makes something cool is originality. Everything about him stinks of being a poseur and a knock-off. His “filibuster” isn’t even a real filibuster! You couldn’t make this shit up. Which suggests that he’s just never going to be the breakout hit he thinks he is.