Ted Cruz Says Building Trump’s Wall Is Like Fighting Slavery and Jim Crow

He endorsed “freedom,” not Trump—and was booed.


In a primetime address to the Republican National Convention Wednesday, Ted Cruz compared GOP efforts to restrict immigration to the civil rights movement’s fight against Jim Crow laws. But the Texas senator was loudly booed by Donald Trump supporters in the convention hall when it became clear that he was not going to endorse the man who beat him for the Republican presidential nomination. Instead, Cruz encouraged his audience to “vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution.”

“We deserve leaders who stand for principle, unite us all behind shared values, cast aside anger for love,” Cruz said, in what many considered the first campaign speech of his likely 2020 presidential campaign. “That is the standard we should expect, from everybody.”

Rather than directly back Trump—who mocked his wife Heidi’s looks during the primary campaign and once suggested Cruz’s dad was complicit in the Kennedy assassination—Cruz used his prime-time slot to outline his vision of freedom.

“Freedom means free speech, not politically correct safe spaces,” he said, taking a shot at progressive college campus activists. He rattled off a series of other bullet points—religious freedom, the right to bear arms, school vouchers, and repealing Obamacare. Each of those freedoms are typical conservative talking points that the party’s nominee rarely mentions. Although Cruz’s speech focused less on social conservative issues than it might have in years past, he included a call for Washington to stay out of defining issues like marriage.

But Cruz made sure to endorse parts of Trump’s platform as well. He cited the success of the United Kingdom’s recent Brexit vote as indicative of a growing populist wave. “We deserve an immigration system that puts America first and, yes, builds a wall to keep us safe, that stops admitting ISIS terrorists as refugees,” Cruz said. “We deserve trade policies that put the interests of American farmers and manufacturing jobs over the global interests funding the lobbyists.” Cruz had never previously campaigned as an economic protectionist.

Even as he adopted aspects of the current nominee’s most controversial proposals, Cruz was careful to couch his political fight in the context of historical struggles. “Together we passed the Civil Rights Act, and together we fought to eliminate Jim Crow laws,” he said. “Those were fights for freedom, and so is this.”

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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