It is no secret that the key to the White House lies in winning over young voters and minority groups. This is why Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, is romancing young evangelicals attending college at Liberty University. Liberty U, founded by Rev. Jerry Falwell, has a huge chunk of this demographic as over 100,000 students are attending classes either at the physical campus or online, making it one of the largest Christian universities in the world. Cruz spoke at the campus, delivering a speech aimed at introducing himself, his principles, and his platform in order to get young Christian voters warmed up to the idea of Cruz running for president in 2016.
Reaching the young evangelical crowd is a must for any conservative candidate to win the presidential election, but it will take more than that demographic to seal the deal. Sen. Cruz’s strategy, so far, is traditional for those running as conservatives, but what is he doing to reach those who may not be fully aligned with the Republican Party or conservative principles? Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, also believes that winning young people is critical, but he is aiming to pull in voters who have typically been considered liberal or Democratic, enlarging the Republican voter base, giving conservatives the edge to take the White House cleanly. At some point, Paul may have to consider taking a page from Cruz’s playbook and engaging young Christian voters, as Cruz may have to try to find common ground with young liberals to bring in their vote.
One of the reasons that Ted Cruz will be so successful at romancing the young evangelicals at Liberty U is because of his father, Rev. Rafael Cruz, a pastor in Dallas. The pastor has spoken to the same student body and was received warmly. He is not shy about telling people about his son’s potential presidential run as he goes across the United States and speaks with other pastors. The Texas senator has never been shy about his Christian faith, but he has not made it the focus of his campaign, choosing to make the heart of his platform the economy, government spending, and constitutional issues, while not putting too much emphasis on social policy. While Cruz may not be as outspoken on social issues as some, he has been opening up a bit more lately, stating during a speech to a homeschool group that America was founded on Christian principles, and telling pro-life activists to stand their ground, to not compromise on their principles and beliefs.
Sen. Cruz has the support of Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr, who gushed that he has stood boldly for the defense of the Constitution, standing up for limited government, even if it meant opposing individuals in his own party. This same boldness has also won over the hearts of the Tea Party, who consider Cruz a favorite to keep an eye on in the coming years.
While Sen. Cruz is certainly a man of principle, and would no doubt be a blessing to the country as president, it is not clear if his ideology truly lines up with the principles of liberty. Those who claim to want less government, yet call for government interference to legislate issues of morality that do not involve hurting someone or taking their property, seem to be a bit confused. You cannot claim small government, if you want the government to limit the choice of the people to live life as they see fit, so long as it does not hurt anyone or cause someone to lose their property. Unfortunately, many Republicans and conservatives say they are for freedom with limited government, but then invite government into people’s bedrooms. If Ted Cruz proves to be this type of candidate, he will stand no chance of winning any independent or liberal voters, and romancing the young evangelicals at Liberty U will not be enough to give him the winning edge.
Opinion by Michael Cantrell