How to Explain the Rise of Ted Cruz

Anyone remember back to February when Time magazine anointed Cuban-American Sen. Marco Rubio as the GOP’s “savior” on its cover? Seven months later, it’s Rubio’s Cuban-American Texas doppelganger, Sen. Ted Cruz, who has grabbed the party’s attention—or, more precisely, seized its throat. …

Cruz’s rise offers more evidence that a climate of polarization in Congress inexorably tends to empower each party’s ideological vanguard against its center. Polarization undercuts congressional centrists, who exert influence by finding compromises and closing deals. But centrists can’t deliver either outcome when the parties are committed to perpetual conflict. When legislation is constant war, parties tend to seek leadership from warriors. Enter Cruz. [cont.]

Ron Brownstein, National Journal