How does a man who is part Cuban, part Italian, and part Irish end up a Southern Baptist?
"I come from a family that has been Roman Catholic for generations," Ted Cruz admitted, "but my parents converted while living in Texas and raised me Southern Baptist."
The conservative candidate for United States Senate in Texas and former state Solicitor General told me he is not particularly concerned with the crime of being Christian, so to say, but the evidence. "I am always skeptical of politicians who say, ‘I'm running because God told me to.' My view as a voter is: ‘When God tells me to vote for you, we'll be on the same page.'"
As of late, Texans have been on Cruz's page. And it's quite a page to read.
"Talk is cheap," Cruz says, "we need principled conservatives who are accomplished fighters," and perhaps hereditary ones as well. At the age of fourteen, Cruz's father, Rafael fought in the Cuban revolution. He was jailed, tortured, and has the veneers -- the top row of his teeth having been kicked in -- to prove it.
"It's a tremendous blessing to be a child of an immigrant who fled oppression because it makes you understand just how fragile liberty is." As a child, Cruz would hear his father remark, "When we faced oppression in Cuba, I had a place to flee to. If we lose our freedom here, where do we go?"
From collectivist economics to government mandating contraception, Cruz warns, "the stakes have never been higher" than they are in America's preset political conflicts. One culprit he fingers is the "imperial judiciary" and he vows to defend the Constitution from its would-be interpreters.
As a Harvard Law grad and former clerk to the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist, he should know a thing or two about the United States Constitution.
In fact, Cruz knows it cold. He memorized the Constitution as a high school member of a Houston-based program "Constitutional Corroborators." He and his friends would speak to local crowds for scholarship money. They set up easels and wrote out the entire Constitution from memory.
"In four years of high school, 80 speeches, it became what I wanted to do in life," he remembered. "It really was the intellectual foundation for the next 30 years of my life." After all, Cruz knows that "there's a consistent lack of principled, effective, free-market warriors and if we don't defend liberty, we'll lose it."
Cruz has since made a career out of being one such warrior. He has a knack for winning, too. Exhibit A: Medellín v. Texas.
On June 24, 1993, José Ernesto Medellín and others raped and killed two young girls in Houston. Medellín was arrested, tried, and convicted of his crimes. The state did not, however, advise him of his right as a Mexican citizen to contact his consulate under the terms of the Vienna Convention. After many failed appeals, Medellín sued the United States in the United Nations' International Court of Justice. Federal judges and even the President wanted to obey the decision of an international court.
They lost. Cruz won.
Cruz fears that it may be only a temporary victory, however. "There are four justices on the [Supreme] Court willing to subject us to the authority of a world court and the United Nations. We're one vote away from the Court being able to fundamentally undermine our sovereignty."
He's not kidding. Last month, Justice Ginsberg told Egyptians: "I would not look to the U.S. Constitution, if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012. I might look at the constitution of South Africa."
South Africa? Sad and dangerous, says Cruz.
"Our Constitution was truly a revolutionary document because they inverted the entire concept of sovereignty." Throughout history, rights were given to people by the grace of a King. Our Founders said rights come from God. The role of the constitution, therefore, is to serve as "chains to bind the mischief of government."
Not the sort of stuff you'd typically read on a candidate's website "issues" section. Cruz's doesn't have one. Instead there's "Proven Record." Recalling Matthew 7:16, Cruz bluntly asks "When have you fought for your principles, when have you bled for them, and what have you accomplished?"
Returning to his faith, Cruz sees "a particular susceptibility for candidates to be like Pharisees who wear their faith on their sleeve as convenient political garb.
"It is far better to let actions speak louder than words."