Whether you agree that the shutdown was a good strategy or not, it is important to understand how one of the shutdown’s champions, Senator Ted Cruz, managed to animate enough of the Republican base to force such a battle. To see how he did it, play the following clip:
Cruz seems to understand what so many in his party do not: The importance of being articulate. Cruz’s words connect with Tea Party folks. But they also have the potential to connect with people far beyond the GOP base. Let’s parse his statement to see why it is effective:
“Once again, it appears that the Washington Establishment is refusing the listen to the American People.”
Cruz sets up the struggle as one of Washington versus the American People, not one about budget processes or debt ceilings. In other words, this not inside-the-beltway talk, but is language that most Americans can understand.
“This deal that has been cut provides no relief to the millions of Americans who are hurting because of ObamaCare.”
It is not a compromise or a “clean” CR, but a “deal that has been cut,” presumably by the Washington Establishment. This line also sets up the general theme that ObamaCare is hurting millions of Americans.
“This deal that has been cut provides no relief to the young people coming out of school who can’t find a job because of ObamaCare. It provides no relief to all the single parents who have been forced into part-time work, struggling to feed their kids on 29 hours a week. It provides no relief to the hard-working families who are facing sky-rocketing health insurance premiums.”
Notice how Cruz goes from the general to the specific. He does it with powerful imagery: “young people,” “job,” “single parents,” “part-time work,” “struggling to feed their kids,” “hard-working families,” “sky-rocketing health insurance premiums.” What makes those images powerful is that they are both vivid and easily understood by most Americans.
One last line: “And it provides no relief to all the seniors, to all the people with disabilities who are right now getting in the mail notifications from their health insurance companies that they’re losing their health insurance because of ObamaCare.”
When was the last time you heard a Republican talk like that? Cruz incorporates groups most people empathize with—seniors and the disabled—and then juxtaposes them with an unpopular group—health insurance companies—which he then links to ObamaCare.
Repealing ObamaCare will require better tactics than a government shutdown. But it will also require being far more articulate. Ted Cruz gave us a lesson in the latter.