Posters with the words “Better Dead Than Ted” and “Ted’s a Mess” flooded various parts of the University this past week as part of a campaign by Princeton Against Cruz, a newly formed student group calling for the University community's opposition to the presidential candidacy of Texas Senator Ted Cruz ’92.
Walker Davis '17, a member of Princeton Against Cruz and a self-described Democrat, saidthat the seven-member group believes Cruz does not embody the values of the University, namely that of “serving the nation.” Hence, the group is taking an anti-Cruz stance, Davis added.
Davis said that, at its core, the Princeton Against Cruz campaign is meant to raise awareness about the election in the community, adding that the group does not speak for the University. He explainedthe purpose of posters was to "grab attention," adding that in this day and age, putting forth a provocative message is one of the only ways to gauge conversation.
He noted that he believes not only that Cruz embraces many conservative economic policies that are damaging to the economy but also that Cruz's platform bears many striking similarities to that of Donald Trump, including Trump's stances on immigration and treatment of Muslim minorities.
On its website, the group further denounced Cruz's health care platform, which calls for more money to be placed into health savings accounts, as something that “understate[s] the complexity and scope of the nation's health care woes.” The group also disapproves of Cruz’s policy towards ISIS, claiming that the senator “speaks casually of ‘carpet bombing ISIS until the sand glows.’"
“One thing... about Cruz is that you can’t say he doesn’t believe in what he says.” Davis said, explaining that he believes that Cruz will bring an element of rigidity to his presidency.
Davis explained that in order to show opposition to Cruz, many group members have exhausted their printer queues to distribute several hundred posters with six different designs across campus. Some of them were torn down last weekend, Davis said, but he and his team will be re-posting them in due time.
“I’m finding it to be an emboldening thing. There’s discussion that’s going on, we can all relate to it and it doesn’t cost me too much other than time, so we’ll post it right back up,” Davis said.
Paul Draper ’18, president of College Republicans and the State Director of the New Jersey Millennials for Ted Cruz, described the posters as “childish and irresponsible,” as they lacked substantive critiques of Cruz.
Draper explained that Cruz has fulfilled the promises he made to his constituents, as he is willing to fight for the principles he believes in, including opposition to Obamacare and support for pro-life positions even when the higher echelons of the party don’t see eye-to-eye with him.
“When many college students have grown up in a system where so many establishment politicians haven’t fought for the principles they espoused, it’s refreshing to see a candidate like Cruz,” Draper said.
According to Draper, there is a lot of support for Cruz within the University community.
“There are a lot of Princetonians, including myself, who are great admirers of him and his policies,” he said.
Nonetheless, Draper noted that he fully supports free speech in the debate and expressed that he doesn’t endorse tearing down these posters in order to shut down conversation.
On its website, Princeton Against Cruz hasa petition open for current University students to express their opposition against Cruz. Davis did not comment on the number of signatories on the petition.
The group also launched an online merchandise kiosk to sell T-shirts as a way of fundraising.One of the T-shirts features a zodiac design, which is an allusion to a left-leaning poll that surveyed the public’s conception of Cruz as the Zodiac Killer.
“It’s a childish gimmick,” Will Johnson ’18, a member of Princeton College Democrats,said, adding that Princeton Against Cruz's campaign is "Trump-esque" and “problematic.”
“Even though I disagree with Cruz on a lot of issues, he is a serious candidate,” Johnson said, adding that students should be politically engaged in more constructive ways, such as actually getting involved in a candidate's campaign.
"The argument against Cruz is important and the Princeton community needs to communicate that it does not support him, but the price can't be the dumbing down of discourse to cruel rhymes and offensive imagery. We are no better than Ted if the discourse is dead,"Kennedy O'Dell '18, another member of Princeton College Democrats, said.