From the same Ted Cruz who brought us the government shutdown and a near blow-up of the world's economy, now comes a new act - shutting down (or blowing up) comprehensive immigration reform.

The Hill provides details in its October 29 article Ted Cruz looms large over comprehensive immigration reform:

The Hill writes:

"Sen. Ted Cruz (R. Texas) has shaped the views of Republican leaders on immigration reform, and his sway with grassroots conservatives will make passing comprehensive legislation significantly more difficult."

The article continues:

"Cruz scored a victory in the battle for the hearts and minds of his party over the weekend when Senator Marco Rubio (R. Fla.) backed away from the Senate's overhaul of immigration laws."

(See my Immigration Daily blogging: "Et Tu, Marco?" October 29).The Hill then states:

GOP leaders, after President Obama's reelection last year, sounded more open to moving broad legislation on immigration, but their interest in doing so has waned as Cruz's power has grown.

'There are going to be a lot of Republicans who don't want to be on the other side of Ted Cruz', said Rosemary Jenks, director of government relations at NumbersUSA, a group that advocates for reduced immigration flows."

The same article also describes Cruz's opposition to a pathway to citizenship for 11 million immigrants who are currently without legal status, as well has his alliance with Iowa Republican Representative Steve King (who has called DREAMERs "drug mules", labelled all of Latin America as a culture of violence and compared immigrants to dogs).

The Hill's article also reports:

"Cruz, who has become an influential voice among House Tea Party conservatives, can help cement opposition to merging the broad Senate package with one of the broad Senate package with one of the narrower House bills that could pass there this fall.

King does not want any immigration reform proposal to pass, fearing that one of the House piecemeal bills could be used as a vehicle to move the 1,200 page Senate bill."

What gives just one Senator such as Ted Cruz so much power to block immigration reform, against the wishes of the great majority of Americans, including a wide coalition of business and religious groups in Cruz's own party who have been actively lobbying Congress in favor of reform (see Immigration Daily's October 30 editorial)?

What gave this one man, Ted Cruz, the power to cause a partial shutdown of the federal government, throwing hundreds of thousands of loyal federal employees out of work and costing the US economy $24 billion, as well as putting the world's financial system in jeopardy, merely out of spite over a duly enacted law, the Affordable Care Act, which like CIR, would also benefit millions of minority and less affluent people?

In order to answer these questions, which are essential to understanding why CIR, if not actually dead in Congress, is not showing very many signs of life, it is important to go beyond the superficial day-to-day headlines about the latest pronouncements that one or another spokesperson on either side of the issue may have made, and instead to look at the recent history of extremist right wing demagogy in the US.

I refer specifically to Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI), with whom Senator Ted Cruz has so much in common. Since no ID reader under the age of 60 will have any personal recollection of the grave danger to our democracy that was caused by this one single Senator, I will elaborate on this point in a forthcoming post.