That Time Ted Cruz Waded Into a Big Conspiracy Theory

The previous version of TedCruz.org 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.

TedCruz.org, 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 TedCruz.org, 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 TedCruz.org. “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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