The Dueling Conservatives

In Jason Harowitz’s article for the New York Times “Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio Grow Apart as Their Ambitions Expand” a bias toward the game frame and conflict thrives. In the article Harowitz positions Senator Rubio and Cruz as “biographically similar but stylistically opposite.” Harowitz also utilizes a neighbor versus neighbor narrative to capitalize on their differences. For example, one similarity Harowitz discusses is that both Cruz and Rubio gained political momentum in the beginning of the Tea Party movement. However, he then emphasizes their differences when he chronicles Rubio’s eventual separation from Cruz’s Tea Party politics and embracement of the traditional conservative establishment. By positioning Rubio and Cruz as the same person, yet still politically opposite, their conflict in the Republican presidential primaries becomes more personal.

Harowitz exploits a personal narrative to further separate Cruz and Rubio by contrasting work and family. “After the debate, Mr. Rubio and his wife could be seen leaving the building with Mr. Cruz’s wife and children, with smiles on all their faces.” Here the narrative use of family, Cruz himself was not present, emphasizes conflict and sets the stage for competition between Cruz and Rubio which is not only professional, but intertwined with the personal. Using this neighbor versus neighbor exposition, the competition between Rubio and Cruz seems dramatically evident and is developed through their opposition on key legislation such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and immigration policy that were eventually overhauled by Cruz and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT). Another is Cruz and Rubio’s competition to receive an endorsement from Lee. This conflict positions Lee against Cruz and explains their strained relationship after a recent Senate Judiciary Meeting when Cruz argued that Lee would weaken punishment of violent offenders. Harowitz describes this dispute as a harrowing example which may further divide Cruz and Rubio as Mr. Lee may decide to endorse Rubio over Cruz in the primaries.  

Finally, in two intermissions of humoring conflict between Harowitz’s political and personal, sameness, and difference argument a quote from Senator John McCain (R-AZ) is added which says that the relationship between Cruz and Rubio has “diverged.” Another is a miscellaneous addition is when Harowitz mentions that Cruz’s musical taste is country while Rubio prefers West Coast rap. The bias towards conflict and game framing, however benign, positions the article with drama rather than issue oriented information about Cruz and Rubio’s policies. Issue oriented information would be helpful in order to assess the inherent differences in Cruz and Rubio’s policy platforms instead of their personal and dramatic Tea Party separation.

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The Dueling Conservatives

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