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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul’s recent foray into 9/11 trutherism has revived questions about how his fringe politics could affect his son’s presidential ambitions. But Rand Paul isn’t the only White House aspirant with a political anchor in the family.

During an August 21 meeting of the Western Williamson Republican Club, Pastor Rafael Cruz — father of Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) — attempted to explain that black Americans “need to be educated” about the real history of the civil rights movement, and that “the average black” doesn’t understand the minimum wage.

Cruz ran into trouble recounting a recent conversation that he had with a black pastor.

“I said, as a matter of fact, ‘Did you know that civil rights legislation was passed by Republicans? It was passed by a Republican Senate under the threat of a filibuster by the Democrats,’” Cruz told the group, as reported by BuzzFeed. “‘Oh, I didn’t know that.’ And then I said, ‘Did you know that every member of the Ku Klux Klan were Democrats from the South?’ ‘Oh I didn’t know that.’ You know, they need to be educated.”

“Jason Riley said in an interview, Did you know before we had minimum-wage laws black unemployment and white unemployment were the same?” he added, referring to the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board member. “If we increase the minimum wage, black unemployment will skyrocket. See, he understands it, but the average black does not.”

Cruz’s assertions are riddled with factual inaccuracies. For starters, casting conservatives as the real heroes of the civil rights movement requires an absurd revisionist history (nevermind the fact that Republicans didn’t actually control the Senate in 1964).

Cruz is similarly off base on the effects of increasing the minimum wage. Both professional economists and recent history strongly dispute the notion that guaranteeing workers $10.10 per hour will cause unemployment to “skyrocket.” And, contrary to Cruz’s warning, “the average black” would actually disproportionately benefit from such an increase.

Additionally, Pastor Cruz’s riffing on the intelligence of “the average black” probably won’t help Republicans if they choose to revive their disastrously failed outreach to minorities before the 2016 presidential election. And that could be a problem for Senator Cruz.

Ted Cruz has made no apologies for his close personal and professional relationship with his father, who has been described as a “power broker” within the senator’s political organization. He has even used a Senate aide to book his father’s paid speeches, like the one given to the Western Williamson Republican Club. That means that, if Senator Cruz does pursue an oft-rumored presidential bid, he will have to answer for his father’s radical rhetoric. After all, not many serious presidential candidates have close advisors who believe that the California drought is the result of a United Nations plot to confiscate private property, or that the president is a secret Muslim who will force the elderly to undergo “suicide counseling,” or that evolution is a communist lie, among many other outrageous conspiracy theories. Cruz would have a difficult enough time convincing the electorate that he is mainstream enough to serve as president; his father’s regular outbursts will only make it harder.

Pastor Cruz believes that President Obama was “brainwashed for 18 years” by listening to the sermons of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. What does that mean for Ted Cruz, who has been listening to his father for a lifetime?

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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