Hillsdale – This past weekend Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, addressed the 2013 graduating class of Hillsdale College. After being called a schoolyard bully last week by his own Majority Leader Harry Reid, he arrived on campus with as much composure as the country has come to expect from him in the five months since he pledged the oath to the Senate office.
I had the honor of hosting the senator on his visit.
As we toured campus, he admired the statue of Ronald Reagan. Then, he eyed the Thatcher statue, and walked right across the courtyard to get a closer look. When we came to Jefferson’s statue, he asked, “Do you know what day he died?” July 4, 1826—the same day as John Adams, whose final words were, “Jefferson still lives,” though the Virginian had passed earlier that morning. What a historic irony that these rivals-turned-friends both left this earth on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence Jefferson authored.
These are the stories Cruz cherishes. He conveyed the same miraculous qualities of the American narrative in his commencement address. “Freedom works,” he exclaimed. Just as his father began by washing dishes for 50 cents an hour, Cruz talked of how everyone has the ability to achieve our goals one ladder rung at a time. Our success is based on our talents and our determination to fight for the American dream, he believes. Bigger government fails to accomplish what people can do for themselves, and it certainly cannot take the place of communities in caring for those in need. It is the people that embody the miracle, and it is the people that must perpetuate this republic.
Senator Cruz invoked the late Margaret Thatcher: “There are moments in our history when we have to make a fundamental choice.” The choice is ours: do we want a nation laden with a paternal state, or do we want a nation dependent on the people and their ability to carry the “torch of freedom” to their neighbors and children?
The freshman senator has made his choice—he will defend the limited nature of government, as outlined in the Constitution, even at the cost of insults from colleagues. He does so because he understands the principles that have enabled this nation to flourish since its founding: the rule of law, enumerated powers, civic virtue, and individual freedom. It’s up to each of us to decide how to preserve our liberty and serve our fellow citizens.