I’ve never had much use for populism, which tends always to be fueled by demagoguery, but there are few things more absurd than unpopular populism. As Ezra Klein points out, Ted Cruz’ absurd claim that he’s doing what he’s doing because he’s standing up for the “will of the people” is about as disconnected from reality as it is possible to be. 59% of the public opposes shutting down the government to defund Obamacare. Only 19% favors it. And:
Cruz opposes raising taxes on the wealthy. The public supports it. Cruz opposes gun control. The public supports it. Cruz supports sharply cutting spending on Medicare and Social Security. The public opposes it. If Cruz actually believed his job was directly representing the will of the people, his voting record would be extremely different than it is.
Which is why it’s so odd Cruz has chosen this argument. He could just be up there arguing against Obamacare. Instead he’s arguing that we need to #MakeDCListen. He’s making a broad, quasi-philosophical argument that senators should more fully reflect public opinion. But even he doesn’t believe it. Cruz’s filibuster is self-refuting.
And this is true of the entire Tea Party movement. It presents itself with populist rhetoric, but the policies it favors are extremely unpopular. Cruz is representing only a small minority of extremists, but he is trying to convince us and them that he represents the majority.