That Time Ted Cruz Waded Into a Big Conspiracy Theory

The previous version of is mostly gone. But web archives show a different kind of campaign.

Sen. Ted Cruz speaks to guests at the Iowa Freedom Summit on January 24, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. 
National Journal
Matt Berman
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Matt Berman
March 24, 2015, 10:41 a.m.

Ted­, paid for by Cruz for Pres­id­ent, is Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate Ted Cruz’s on­line hub for dona­tions, vague po­s­i­tion state­ments, and pic­tures of Amer­ic­an flags.

But the pre­vi­ous it­er­a­tion of Ted­, the 2012 cam­paign site that fielded the hopes and prin­ciples of an up­start Sen­ate can­did­ate in Texas, was dif­fer­ent. Most of it is gone now, and has been for years. But on­line archives, com­plete with Cruz’s old blog posts, still ex­ist. Much of what’s there is mundane. But some of it wades in­to the con­spir­at­ori­al. 

Stand­ard cam­paign mes­sages, like a 2011 pitch for how Cruz had “led the way in de­fense of our right to keep and bear arms,” no longer ex­ist. The same goes for a Janu­ary 2012 blog post and cor­res­pond­ing pe­ti­tion in Cruz’s name op­pos­ing the Stop On­line Pri­r­acy Act, say­ing that it and its Pro­tect IP coun­ter­part “threaten free speech and dam­age liberty.” And the more gen­er­ic cam­paign-y post­ings are gone, like a staffer ask­ing Tex­ans to vo­lun­teer at phone banks.

But then there’s this, a now gone Jan. 20, 2012, blog post au­thored by Cruz, titled “Stop Agenda 21: The Con­sti­tu­tion should be our only ‘Agenda.’ ” 

Agenda 21, in its most straight­for­ward defin­i­tion, is a non­bind­ing United Na­tions agree­ment in­ten­ded to en­cour­age na­tions to in­crease en­vir­on­ment­al sus­tain­ab­il­ity ef­forts that was ad­op­ted by 178 gov­ern­ments, in­clud­ing the United States, at the 1992 U.N. Con­fer­ence on En­vir­on­ment and De­vel­op­ment.

But even though it has no leg­al au­thor­ity, Agenda 21 has long been a tar­get for con­spir­acy the­or­ists who see it as a basis for glob­al gov­ernance. This dates back to Tom DeWeese’s found­ing of the Amer­ic­an Policy Cen­ter in 1998, in­ten­ded to fo­cus in part on “the United Na­tions and its ef­fect on Amer­ic­an na­tion­al sov­er­eignty.” The Daily Beast cites a re­port quot­ing DeWeese call­ing Agenda 21 a “blue­print to turn your com­munity in­to a little so­viet.”

As The New York Times re­por­ted in 2012, in­creased fears about Agenda 21 (which, again, is vol­un­tary and non­bind­ing) co­in­cided with the tea-party, an­ti­gov­ern­ment surge of 2010 through the coun­try, and a be­lief among the far-right that cli­mate change is a hoax per­pet­rated as a means of in­creas­ing gov­ern­ment con­trol.

In early 2012, ac­cord­ing to The New York Times, Fox News com­ment­at­or Eric Bolling com­pared an Obama ex­ec­ut­ive or­der to “a U.N. plan called Agenda 21, where a cent­ral­ized plan­ning agency would be re­spons­ible for over­sight in­to all areas of our lives. A one-world or­der.” Glenn Beck has a fic­tion­al book series about Agenda 21 that en­vi­sions (per the de­scrip­tion of the first book) an Amer­ica, post-glob­al-im­ple­ment­a­tion of Agenda 21, run by “the Au­thor­it­ies” with “no pres­id­ent. No Con­gress. No Su­preme Court. No Free­dom.”

Agenda 21-bash­ing isn’t solely for the fringe. At the Re­pub­lic­an Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee’s 2012 winter meet­ing, the party re­leased a res­ol­u­tion call­ing Agenda 21 “a com­pre­hens­ive plan of ex­treme en­vir­on­ment­al­ism, so­cial en­gin­eer­ing, and glob­al polit­ic­al con­trol” that is “be­ing cov­ertly pushed in­to loc­al com­munit­ies” and re­solved that the RNC “re­cog­nizes the de­struct­ive and in­si­di­ous nature of United Na­tions Agenda 21.” The of­fi­cial GOP plat­form on Amer­ic­an Ex­cep­tion­al­ism de­clares that “we strongly re­ject the U.N. Agenda 21 as erosive of Amer­ic­an sov­er­eignty.” 

It’s that 2012 res­ol­u­tion that in­spired Sen­ate can­did­ate Ted Cruz to take to Ted­ “Un­der the guise of world sus­tain­ab­il­ity the plan es­tab­lishes a re­gime of rules that at­tempt to by­pass Con­gress and the Amer­ic­an people, hand­ing over power over vast areas of the U.S. eco­nomy to un­elec­ted U.N. bur­eau­crats,” he wrote.

Cruz also pinned re­spons­ib­il­ity for the agenda on a re­li­able boo­gey­man. “The ori­gin­at­or of this grand scheme is George Sor­os…. He has giv­en mil­lions to this pro­ject.” Cruz went on to write that Agenda 21 “at­tempts to ab­ol­ish” things like “golf courses, graz­ing pas­tures, and paved roads.” 

“In the U.S. Sen­ate, I in­tend to con­tin­ue lead­ing the fight, to stop Agenda 21 and any oth­er glob­al­ist plan that tries to sub­vert the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion and the liber­ties we all cher­ish as Amer­ic­ans,” Cruz con­cluded. “We need fight­ers in the Sen­ate, who will stand and de­fend We the People.”

Ra­fael Cruz, the sen­at­or’s fath­er, has also made Agenda 21 a fo­cus of many of his own pub­lic state­ments.

His son’s ba­sic mes­sage here wasn’t out­side the main­stream GOP when it was pub­lished, as defined by the party’s own plat­form. But the old post, though an easy tar­get for polit­ic­al ad­versar­ies, puts Cruz ahead on an is­sue that is very real (des­pite be­ing, if this hasn’t hit home yet, non­bind­ing) for many en­er­gized con­ser­vat­ive act­iv­ists around the coun­try. Beck’s most re­cent Agenda 21 book, af­ter­all, just came out in Janu­ary, de­b­ut­ing on The New York Times best-seller list.

Be­ing out in front on Agenda 21 may seem ris­ible to people who see no fire here, and Cruz got a lot of flack for his post at the time it was pub­lished. But for the pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate try­ing to ce­ment his place as the most con­ser­vat­ive, tea-party guy out there, it may not hurt to have this anti-world-gov­ern­ment, George Sor­os-bash­ing, golf course-pro­tect­ing missive float­ing around.

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