Five hundred students rushed into the Houston Ballroom at the Marriott Marquis, making a mad dash to the front of the room to score prime seats to hear Texas Senator Ted Cruz speak. Cruz gave the final talk at the Young America's Foundation conference in Houston, and students were stoked to hear his keynote address.
For students, Cruz is one of the more charismatic figures on the current GOP scene. He's held big tech CEOs to account on the Senate floor, he's demanded that Antifa militants be recognized as a threat to democracy, and he's endeavored to uphold the rights of everyday Americans in the face of an encroaching authoritarianism embodied by the progressive left.
Taking the stage, Cruz said he would undertake to "commit a radical act."
"I'm going to speak the truth," he said, "America is great. Our founding fathers were extraordinary patriots."
He went on, ticking off a list of basic truths that used to be baseline understanding for Americans, but are now divisive, controversial statements: "America is a force for good in the world. Israel is our friend. Police officers keep us safe. The Wuhan virus came from Wuhan. There is a difference between boys and girls."
"Five years ago," he said, everyone would agree with those things—"other than the virus thing."
Now, he said, saying those things can damage a person's personal and professional life, not to mention get them kicked off Twitter.
He took aim at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her mask mandate for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people on the House floor. This condition is not in place on the senate side of congress. "In the senate they haven't had the guts to try to do that."
"All the Democrats are self identified behind a mask and all the Republicans are like 'I don't know what your problem is, dude.'" He joked that the Dems masks aren't tight enough, because he can still hear what they are saying. He'd made a similar joke on a recent episode of his podcast Verdict
"We are seeing the rise of the crazy, angry, intolerant left," Cruz said. "These guys are going too far one way on steroids. So I'm going to suggest to you a simple approach."
Speakers throughout the week at YAF emphasized to the gathered students what action they could take to counter woke narratives on campus. Cruz's advice was direct: "Speak the truth. The truth is powerful. How do you know the truth is powerful? Because it scares the living daylights out of the left."
"Nobody strong tries to silence their opposition," he said.
"Think of what the left is based on," he said, "their arguments don't work."
"The greatest engine for prosperity in the history of the world has been the American free enterprise system."
"Just once I'd like to see some whiny… Hollywood socialists run down to the Florida Keys, get on a raft and head 90 miles south. Their socialist utopia is there," he said. "Look at the reactions of leftists… to the protesting Cubans.. risking their lives… while the thugs are showing up and beating them…"
He said this is "kind of an awkward time" for college socialists, as the Cuban people fight for democracy against brutal dictatorship.
Cruz took aim at White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki for saying that Cubans were "protesting mismanagement" out in the streets. Instead, Cruz said, the protestors are out there chanting "libertad" not "manage better."
"The left is based on a pile of lies… America is based on principles that work. America," he said, "is based on freedom."
"It is up to you in your heart and your soul to seek out God" and to "worship with your heart your body and your soul," he told students.
"In times of crisis people reveal who they are," he said. "Democrats," he said, "have revealed themselves to be tin-pot dictators."
Democrats shut down churches and schools, he said, leaving other businesses open. "The arbitrariness is the entire point," he said, taking aim at Gavin Newsom for heading off to party at French Laundry while regular citizens were barred from celebrating Thanksgiving.
He slammed Cori Bush for keeping private security while saying we "should abolish the police."
"There's a hypocrisy to the lies," he said, tracking back to Pelosi's pandemic permissiveness for herself and her haircut but not others.
He took aim at New York Mayor Bill de Blasio for going to the gym while closing gyms and parks for every day New Yorkers, and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot who "shut everything down," but got a haircut herself because she "needs to look nice on tv."
"They don't believe this nonsense," he said.
"It's performance theater, that's why the truth scares them," Cruz said.
Cruz blasted the policies that allow biological males who identify as transgender to participate in women's sports while the same proponents of those policies tout "science": "You talk about science, tell me, what is a Y chromosome?"
"They hate truth, they can't defend it," he said. The New York Times "shut down any stories about the origin of COVID-19."
"The media shows just what ridiculous liars they are. Because for a year saying Covid came from a lab would get you banned on social media," it was considered total lunacy, he remarked, and now, two months ago, everyone decided it was suddenly the most likely scenario.
Fauci and Zuckerberg, he said, were some of the worst offenders. As for the lab-leak hypothesis of the coronavirus origin, he said that there were two labs in Wuhan studying bat viruses, and they had "very shoddy security." He said US intelligence was concerned that there could be a security breach and a lab leak.
But for students, his message was clear: "My advice to you is speak the truth… and have fun. Be joyful. The left is so angry, so shrill, they have sticks inserted where they don't belong."
"Be joyful be happy and the contrast is striking," he said.
"The left counts on apathy… ignorance… and fear," Cruz said. People just want to live without criticism and being ostracized, and so they go along with a left that says "you either agree with us or you must be silenced."
But "light the fire of liberty," Cruz said.
"Why does freedom matter to you?" He asked "to go and start a business and achieve your dreams?"
"I think people are waking up. We are seeing it across the country as the left is revealing itself, we're seeing a revival across this country."
"It takes you being evangelists for freedom," he said.
He took detailed, policy based questions from students on pharmaceutical management, healthcare, immigration, election integrity, and the border. On the border, he was graphic. Cruz said the border crisis is fueled by vicious human traffickers who are horrifying transnational criminals, and that that Biden administration either doesn't see it or doesn't care to.
Women and girls are raped routinely, to the point of girls being put on contraception before taking the journey because the likelihood of rape is so high, Cruz told students.
"No country on planet earth allows even as close to as many people to come," he said, noting that the US admits 1 million legal immigrants per year. The nation, he said, is the most generous, compassionate nation the world has ever known.
"On immigration I think our message should very much be that we welcome and celebrate legal immigrants… Americans by choice… not making cartels into billionaires that are abusing children, which is what the democrats are doing."
After his talk to students, Cruz took questions from The Post Millennial. TPM asked about what independent conservative media can do to fight back against social media censorship, and the coming vaccine passports.
On media censorship, Cruz said "It's a real problem. But I will say you have a structural advantage, because so much of the corrupt corporate media is compromised, that there's a hunger for truth. And it's part of the reason why big tech tries to silence any voice that disagrees."
"If you continue producing real journalism, covering actual facts, actual news, actual stories, the truth will get out," Cruz told The Post Millennial. "Will it entail efforts of censorship and silencing and cover ups? Yes. But when they do that, they show their weakness. And so even when being censored, it can move the ball forward. And it's incumbent on a lot of us. Certainly me, but anyone in public life, anyone with a megaphone to use the megaphone to speak the truth, and it is desperately needed."
Cruz took time to speak with The Post Millennial after his speech, addressing the overreach of vaccine mandates. "I think it's an absolute abuse of power. My view is that we should have no COVID mandates whatsoever, that there should be no vaccine mandates. There should be no mask mandates, there should be no vaccine passports."
"I believe in science, I believe in vaccines. I've been vaccinated, my family's been vaccinated," Cruz said. "I encourage people to get vaccinated. But I also believe in individual choice and responsibility. I think it's your choice whether to get vaccinated or not.
"Every one of us can talk with our doctors and weigh the pros and cons and make a decision. I don't think the government or our employer, anyone else should make us have a medical treatment. That is a decision each person should make for themselves. And I think the eagerness of Democrats across the country to force people to comply demonstrates just how rapidly they're willing to set aside anyone's rights of individual choice."