Although many people believe Ted Cruz to be a human, this is not to definitively say that he is a human: I like to believe that Cheetos are an acceptable breakfast snack, and boys I like will always text me back, but the facts don’t always bear this out. Human perception is fallible and limited, and in the case of Ted Cruz, more humanoid checks may well be necessary.
After all, how else do we explain the rampant speculation about the Texan senator’s human status, and more specifically his inhumane stance on repealing Affordable Care Act, often known as Obamacare? Some people have compared Cruz's face, demeanour and overall politics to those belonging to an enormous blobfish, or a lizard person, but I find this offensive to blobfish and lizards.
One woman endeavoring to get to the bottom of this confusion is Tammy Talpas. After finding out that Cruz, who is her senator, was scheduled to speak at a campaign stop in Austin ahead of his upcoming mid-term battle against Democrat Beto O’Rourke, Talpas was filmed asking Cruz to submit to a DNA test to end the speculation for once and for all: Is he human?
“I’m a woman over 50, who as of February 7, has seven active pre-existing conditions,” Talpas told Cruz in comments filmed and posted to YouTube. “I purchase my individual policy on the Health Insurance Exchange. If you force me into a high-risk pool, you will either bankrupt me or kill me. I take your threats of medical aggression personally and seriously; and I can assure you, I’m not the only Texan who does. My question is: Will you pledge to submit to a DNA test, to prove that you’re human?”
Cruz declined to confirm that he is, in fact, a human, despite being pressed on the issue three further times by Talpas. “I’m not going to reciprocate,” Cruz responded. “It’s a yes-or-no-question,” Talpas said.
“Thank you for being here, ma’am,” Cruz replied.
Although Talpas’ stunt is already providing ripe fodder for conspiracy theorists and internet comedians, her serious intention was to raise awareness of the Republican Party’s plans to decimate the Affordable Care Act. Cruz is one of the Republican Party’s most avowed opponents of the Obama-era healthcare reforms. In 2014, he filibustered for 21 hours on the Senate floor in an attempt to prevent its implementation. Cruz argues that Obamacare is unconstitutional and drives up insurance premiums, though the American public disagrees—according to Pew Research Centre, 56 percent of the population supports the Affordable Care Act.
“I’m 52 years old, and I got insurance for the first time as an adult in January of 2017 under Obamacare,” Talpas tells Broadly, declining to comment on the specifics of her medical condition. “I was in dire shape. I was in a lot of pain. Obamacare literally gave me my life back. If you’d met me two years ago, I was a different person.”
She tells me that if she had to pay for her prescriptions without insurance, it would cost multiples of her monthly insurance premiums—and that’s just for her prescriptions alone. “Obamacare is literally saving my life,” Talpas says. As she lives in Texas, which has not expanded Medicaid coverage, she says she would be forced to move to another state and push herself into poverty to qualify for state healthcare assistance.
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Walking into Cruz’s campaign stop, Talpas patiently listened to his arguments to repeal Obamacare in the hope of catching a few minutes alone with the senator. “I sat respectfully through his speech, and when he said things I could agree with, I applauded politely,” she says. “When he attacked the Affordable Care Act, I did not applaud. But I wanted to get the opportunity to get him one-on-one, and listen to what he had to say.”
Listening to Cruz speak, Talpas was reminded of a fact that his detractors prefer to ignore—that he’s not a stupid man, but an extremely intelligent one, and that makes him dangerous. “He’s argued in front of the Supreme Court nine times,” she argues. “He knows what his policies will create for people like me. He just doesn’t care about people like me at all.”
Deep down, Talpas knows that Cruz isn’t an enormous lizard—she just wanted to make a point about his essential lack of humanity.
“My point very simply is that Republican healthcare policy is inhuman,” Talpas explains. “It means early death and disability and human suffering that is unnecessary. Not unavoidable suffering, but avoidable suffering. My point was, you’re not behaving in a human way. You’re behaving in an inhuman way.”