He gets a little too lit’ry in spots, but professor of philosophy Clancy Martin has an excellent TNR essay on “the virtues of being Ted Cruz”:
… Cruz and Trump are in fact appealing to different segments of the Republican Party, and they know it. Trump is the candidate of the disoriented, the confused, the needy; Cruz is the candidate of the dogmatist, the moralist, the convicted. Trump gets the voters who fear and adore; Cruz gets the voters who hate and resent. Trump is all show; Cruz means what he says. Trump wants to be everybody’s boss; Cruz wants to be everybody’s master. Ted Cruz is much, much more dangerous than Donald Trump.
But I only realized this after following Ted Cruz for a month or two. I began with an uninformed repugnance for his views, with which I had only a vague familiarity; then I got to know him, a little bit, as an unlikely presidential candidate, a probable third or fourth place finisher; I watched the dark horse win in Iowa; and somewhere along there I came to understand that, in my opinion, no one currently running for president would be worse for the country than Ted Cruz. Not necessarily because there’s something wrong with his policies, though I consider them to be completely misguided. But because there is something frightening about this person, and there is something frightening about the way he can make people feel…
At 4:30 p.m. on the eve of the caucus in Marion, Iowa, a side door opened to the assembly room of Grace Baptist Church, and Ted Cruz entered along with a chunky bodyguard and his thirty or so of his team members in their signature dark navy blue jeans. Cruz stood quietly as the pastor introduced him. He wore a blue zippered sweater over a button-down shirt, brown leather work boots, and new-looking Levi’s jeans. A few people in the first pew, near the door where Cruz stood, rose to shake his hand. Some handed him campaign posters to autograph. One parishioner passed up a leather-bound Bible and Cruz took time to write something long in the front pages. A second Bible was handed to Cruz, who again paused to write something thoughtful. More posters and more Bibles were passed up, and Cruz didn’t have time to write a message in each Bible, so he started simply signing them on the page that was held open for him: on the fly page, where a book’s author would sign…
Cruz took the stage. In the friendly, intimate atmosphere of the small church, he was comfortable. I’d been to many Ted Cruz events in the past couple of months, and it was the only time I’d seen him genuinely at ease. He seemed happy and not at all exhausted from the grueling schedule of his 99-county Iowa tour. Though rested, his face had an unfortunate lizard quality to it—adult Ted Cruz can never overcome the Komodo dragon quality of his skin and chin—but he wasn’t repellent. He spoke with the almost squeaky register he adopts in a religious setting, waving his arms evangelically when appealing to Christian scripture and stabbing his finger down in his debater’s manner when making a political promise. He didn’t have the chip-on-my-shoulder-but-quick-on-my-toes expression that he wears during televised debates, and he was neither obsequious nor smarmy, two typical Cruz styles I’d come to expect since following him.
“When I’m president you can bet there’s going to be some changes in Washington! On day one in the Oval Office we’re going to prosecute every member of Planned Parenthood who has committed criminal acts!”
“Yes!” the husband of the woman in the tall leather boots shouted, pumping his fist in the air and rising to his feet…
“If we get a president who appoints a left-wing judge…” Cruz said.
“Stone him!” came a voice from the crowd.
“I’m a true conservative!” Cruz shouted. Suddenly I understood something about Ted Cruz and his followers that I hadn’t clicked into before: The proof of Cruz’s merit, as a candidate, was that he he ought to be at the bottom. The proof of being “a true conservative” is that everyone is against him. Being hated is a mark of entitlement.