The High Executive or a "Higher" One?

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Recently, Craig Biddle of The Objective Standard made a strong case (HT Steve D. and HBL) for supporting Ted Cruz for President. I have expressed my concerns about Cruz here before and, although I have not made up my mind one way or the other, there is an additional thing that bothers me about Cruz from Biddle's piece:

In large part because he embraces Christianity, Cruz is inconsistent in his defense of rights, and his inconsistencies here are not trivial. Among other serious negatives: He opposes a woman's right to seek an abortion because he believes a fetus has rights as granted by God at conception. He opposes the rights of Americans to hire rights-respecting foreigners who want to work for U.S.-based companies (via his proposed immigration policy). And he claims a county clerk (Kim Davis) had a right to refuse to do the government job she was hired to do and is paid by taxpayers to do -- a job that required her to issue marriage licenses for gay couples -- and nevertheless to remain employed by the government. [bold added]
I was disappointed and have been very concerned about Cruz's religiosity ever since he opened his campaign at fundamentalist Liberty University. This is a man who wants to head the Executive Branch of our government -- the branch whose purpose is to execute the law -- saying it's okay for a subordinate to not carry out the law. Dare I suggest that, had the motivation not been to uphold what Cruz (and Davis) regards as a "higher" "law", he would not have supported her?

I have heard others rightly express concern that Cruz, with the bully pulpit of the Presidency at his disposal, might further entrench the incorrect belief that capitalism is based on Christian principles. That is a major concern and would, in the event of his election, demand vigorous and principled rebuttal. But what if, as I have asked earlier, Cruz sees his religion as having a higher priority than freedom of speech? Will he still make sure we can be heard? What would he do, if push comes to shove, and he can no longer dodge the fact that the reason of Rand and the arbitrary of religion don't mix? We are in such a precarious state, politically, that I have no good off-the-cuff answer for that, or for what to do regarding the choices Biddle lays out for this election.

-- CAV


Today: (1) Broke a run-on sentence into two shorter ones.  (2) Corrected spelling error in title.


Anonymous said...

Interestingly though Cruz does endorse a separation between Church and State, he said something to the effect that the government is for people of all belief systems including atheists.

What also is interesting here, is the situation is not one involving imposition of a religiously charged law. Here we have a law whose participation by a religious person (government agent) would have forced him/her to act against their moral hierarchy. Ironically according to some, a proper government's sole role is the protection of rights, those very rights being freedom of action which is consistent with moral action by the individual. Of course those rights are based on morals which are objective...

Here, although the validity of the morality of the government agent can (and rightly) be disputed, we have government asking the agent to act against his/her morality. Of course government did not engage in force, but the question remains whether or not we want a leader who claims that "duty to the State" or "following orders" or "obedience" is more important than acting on principle? In other words GIVEN the beliefs of the person, do we want our president to be the type who respects the abstention of action from the objection of conscience, or one who extolls following rules as an absolute?

I'm not so sure Cruz should be condemned outright for defending a person's refusal to act against his/her morality when the consequences are non-life threatening inconvenience and delay. Of course, if doing the job requires doing something against your morality that person should consider doing another job. I see reassignment as the more appropriate action for the "disobedience" than outrage or the assertion that people SHOULD act against their own morality.

Of course we all must recognize that part of Cruz's treatment of the issue may stem from his non-disagreement with the morals of the agent, however, Cruz has shown that he is principled as such, and it would awfully strange for a principled person to ask someone else to act against his or her principles.


Gus Van Horn said...


"I see reassignment as the more appropriate action for the "disobedience" than outrage or the assertion that people SHOULD act against their own morality."

I agree, but I don't recall this ever coming up.


Kyle Haight said...

With respect to the Kim Davis case, I don't see her being a government employee as relevant. Employment is a voluntary relationship which should only continue as long as both parties consider it to be in their own interests. If an employee has a moral problem with the requirements of her job then she should quit and find another, period. One might be able to make a case for seeking a shift to a different job role with the same employer if doing so would resolve the moral quandry, but the employer has no obligation to accept such a request.

This holds true regardless of how the moral problem developed -- it doesn't matter whether it's due to a change in the job requirements or a change in the moral outlook of the employee. Nor does it matter whether the moral objection is religiously or secularly based.

The idea that the employee has a *right* to retain her job even though she refuses to do part of it on religiously-motivated moral grounds is just wrong. No employee has a right to their job, and nobody gains additional rights protection specifically because their actions are religiously motivated.

This points to a deeper concern I have about Cruz. I fear that his apparent belief that the law should treat religiously-motivated actions differently from non-religiously-motivated ones is a reflection of a hierarchy inversion between religion and government. If his constitutionalism reduces to "God wants us to follow the Constitution" then he has placed religion at the foundation with government as a derivative. In effect, he would have made government into a form of religious observance: in obeying the Constitution we would be obeying God. And if that's the case then the Constitution cannot provide us with protection against God.

Gus Van Horn said...


Thanks for your comment and the opportunity for me to clarify that it represents. I completely agree with your first paragraph regarding that case.

Also, your last paragraph is a good formulation of the issue here.