Politics

04.18.14

Ted Cruz and the Times Square Anarchist Puppeteer

The senator from Texas and the anarchist busker from New York City have a lot more in common than you might expect.

What would you rather watch: A speech by Ted Cruz or a performance by an anarchist puppeteer?

This week, you could’ve seen both as the pair were in the news. Kalan Sherrard, the puppeteer, for being arrested by the NYPD while performing his nihilist-anarchist puppet show in the Times Square subway station. And Cruz, for a Politico story about how his campaign fundraising skyrocketed during last fall’s U.S. government shutdown that he was instrumental in causing.

To me, the connection is that both men advocate for less, or even no government in certain circumstances, but the reaction each one receives is vastly different. Cruz was rewarded with over a million dollars in campaign contributions in the final quarter of 2013. On the other hand, the most Sherrard ever earned from his act in a day was $300. Plus, Sherrard had to endure the added insult of recently being led off in handcuffs by the NYPD for allegedly creating a hazardous condition. (If you check out the video of the incident it looks like the NYPD will have a challenging time getting the charge to stick.)

To clarify, I’m not saying Ted Cruz is an anarchist. Cruz doesn’t want to abolish the U.S. government—he wants to run it.

And to be fair, Sherrard may not be a typical anarchist. After all, he has a website and is on Facebook and Twitter. Sherrard does expound certain mainstream anarchist views on his website, such as opposing “capitalist economics and wage slavery, the state…standing armies, prisons, patriarchy, gender binary…” But in his view, “anarchism does not mean chaos,” rather it means more equality.

I truly believe that there are many areas where the firebrand senator from Texas and the anarchist puppeteer in the New York City subway would find agreement.  For example, last Saturday at the “Freedom Summit,” sponsored in part by the billionaire Koch Brothers’ “Americans For Prosperity,” Cruz exalted the crowd to “to stand for liberty” because we have never before witnessed such a government assault upon our liberties. I bet Sherrard would concur.

Cruz then proposed to abolish the IRS to thunderous applause. I’m sure most anarchists would cheer with the same gusto.

And shockingly, Cruz made a comment that appeared to be a progressive call to address our nation’s income equality. Cruz explained that in the past few years the middle class has suffered while “the rich and powerful, those who walk the corridors of power, are getting fat and happy…” He added: “The top one percent…they earn a higher share of our national income than any year since 1928.” Cruz then joked, “but not to worry, nothing bad happened after 1928.”

The glaring irony of Cruz making that statement while standing behind the huge logos for Americans For Prosperity and “Citizens United” was apparently lost on everyone in the room, including Cruz.  But I would wager that Sherrard would agree on the need to address income inequality.

Cruz then offered a prescription on how to change our country that one might expect to hear from Sherrard’s anarchist puppets: “Empower the people” to rise up and wage a revolution to take back control of our nation. (Although Cruz cited the example of the “Reagan Revolution” as the model to follow, instead of one that would actually abolish our government.)

In early April, during his speech at Liberty University, Cruz also offered words that Sherrard might agree with. (As a refresher, Liberty University is the school founded by Jerry Falwell—the guy who said that the 9/11 attacks upon our nation were in part the fault of: “abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians…”) Cruz urged the audience to reject the notion that we should view government with deference when it tramples upon our rights, but instead we should “stand and speak no matter what the consequences.”

Still, there are also dramatic differences between the two. For example, Sherrard’s statements to the media paint a picture of a person committed to effectuate change through his art regardless of the consequences.

Cruz, on the other hand, is simply just a politician, so his views change based on electoral concerns. We saw that when he championed the shutdown of the federal government last fall. This was the guy publicly credited by many GOP members of Congress for being their inspiration to shut down the government when they were high on the notion that Americans would applaud it.

After public opinion of the shutdown turned decidedly negative, however, Cruz amazingly denied even supporting it. (You could actually hear a crow in the distance when this happened.)

Plus, another big difference is that Cruz’s next appearance will likely be at a fundraiser at a swanky hotel or on national TV.  Sherrard’s will be June 6 in a NYC court to answer the criminal charges lodged against him.

Perhaps Sherrard should think about running for office. At least then instead of being arrested by the NYPD, his views will be met with throngs of adoring supporters and millions in campaign contributions.