Ted Cruz Wants to Teach about the History of Conservatism

It seems that the far right these days is increasingly populated by political propagandists (like David Barton) and unhinged talk show hosts (like Glenn Beck) who fancy themselves as historians and political scientists. Add to that list U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who is joining with right-wing talk show host Mark Levin to teach an online course about the history of conservatism. The course is sponsored by the Leadership Institute (“Training conservative activists, students, and leaders since 1979”) and Free Think University.

Free Think University claims that it “promotes critical thinking, rather than popular ‘group think.'” Ummm, sure. Its online “courses” include titles like “Has Science Buried God?” and “Do Free Markets Promote Cooperation?” A course titled “Why Is the Constitution Important” describes the supposedly opposing sides on the issue this way:

“The Constitutionalists believe in the timelessness of the Constitution and seek to continue to uphold its original meaning and intent.  Then there are the Progressives who believe the Constitution is an antiquated document that must constantly ‘evolve’ to meet the whims of the times.”

“To meet the whims of the times”? Yeah, THAT sounds like a balanced portrayal.

“No matter a person’s political leanings, Conservative, Liberal or otherwise, we think this collaborative project with Leadership Institute is an important contribution to a more civil dialogue about politics and the American experience,” Free Think University’s founder Jim Van Eerden says about the new Cruz/Levin course.

“An important contribution to a more civil dialogue about politics and the American experience”? Please. Cruz at least brings a solid academic background to this endeavor, but his acidic rhetoric as a new senator has reminded many of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy. Even fellow Republicans have harshly criticized his leading role in the shutdown of the federal government for more than two weeks this fall in a hopeless (and reckless) attempt to defund the Affordable Care Act. His co-teacher is even more divisive. Levin claims, for example, that President Obama is a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer and that radical Muslims have “infiltrated” our government. Reviewing Levin’s 2005 book Men in Black: How the Supreme Court Is Destroying America, a Slate writer explained:  “[N]o serious scholar of the court or the Constitution, on the ideological left or right, is going to waste their time engaging Levin’s arguments once they’ve read this book.”

Instead of wasting time on this course, folks could just take in one of Glenn Beck’s rants and get pretty much the same “education.”

12 thoughts on “Ted Cruz Wants to Teach about the History of Conservatism

  1. Question what if. the GOP got what they wanted and the ACA didn’t meet its goals of signing up enough young folks? There would be Tens of millions that have paid premiums the states will have already spent the money on medicaid expansion.. The best defense of the ACA right now is The what if it collapsed? Thats like closing the door after the horse ha left the barn now wouldn’t it? An It pooped On ted Cruz’ mounty boots

  2. History of Conservatism? Will he maybe start with the early Teapartyistas that were usually referred to as the Know-Nothings? Not that they were that big a success at keeping the Irish out, but hey, it’s history, right?

  3. A real history of the recent history of the Conservative movement would be interesting. How did it move from William F. Buckley, brilliant and articulate, to the current bunch, like Barton, Beck, and Palin? How did the Main Street Republicians evolve into or lose to those pushing a minority religious view? Plenty of real questions to explore. However, I don’t think the Cruz/Levin course would be to place to do so.

  4. Seriously, the history of the American conservative movement is a continuum from at least as early as the self-styled “patriotic” organizations of the early 20th century, that reviled non-WASPs, sympathized with the nascent international fascist movement, and later would play serious footsy with the Nazis virtually to the time the U.S. entered WWII, picking up again when the war was over. THAT is what should be demonstrated and argued in any serious study of the “movement.”

  5. FORGET, PLEASE, modern “conservatism.” It has been a failure because it has been, operationally, de facto, Godless. In the political/civil government realm it has ignored Christ and what Scripture says about the role and purpose of civil government. Thus, it failed. Such secular conservatism will not defeat secular liberalism because to God they are two atheistic peas-in-a-pod and thus predestined to failure. As Stonewall Jackson’s Chief of Staff R.L. Dabney said of such a humanistic belief more than 100 years ago:


”[Secular conservatism] is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn.


“American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt hath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth.”

    In any event, “politics,” for the most part today, is whoring after false gods. It will not save us. Our country is turning into Hell because the church in America has forgotten God (Psalm 9:17) and refuses to kiss His Son (Psalm 2.) See, please, 2 Chronicles 7:14ff for the way to get our land healed.

    John Lofton, Recovering Republican
    Dir., The God And Government Project

  6. Thank you Mr. Lofton for your concise statement of the Christian Reconstructionist view on conservatism. No history of conservatism in the modern era will be complete without it.

    Along with the things you cite for him, R.L. Dabney is also well known for stating that slavery was “the best possible social relation between white and black Americans,” so it would indeed be instructive to include Dabney’s thinking in discussing the genesis of modern conservatism.

    1. My assessment of the Godless nature of modern conservatism is from a Christian/Biblical perspective, from the inside. I knew all the Founding Fathers of this de facto atheistic movement. As for Dabney and slavery, all your quote demonstrates is that a man can be wrong on slavery but absolutely correct about Godless conservatism.

      John Lofton, Recovering Republican
      Dir., The God And Government Project