Barry Ellsworth

Ted Cruz, the poster boy for the ultraconservative tea party, has made quite a name for himself since his election as the junior senator from Texas in 2012.

He created a flap with his filibustering in the Senate, rallying the conservative tea party and forcing more moderate Republicans to take yet another stand against Obamacare.

He is credited as the main spark that set fire to the Republican House, which led to a federal government shutdown.

Cruz, 42, is a fledgling senator from Texas. But he isn’t from Texas – he is from Canada.

Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, on Dec. 22, 1970. Call him a Christmas gift for his parents, Eleanor Elizabeth Darragh and Rafael Bienvenido Cruz. His mother is an American, and his father was born in Matanzas, Cuba.

Calgary is a lot like Texas, minus the guns. It is an oil capital of Canada, a Western Canadian city that each year hosts the world famous Calgary Stampede. Residents and visitors wear cowboy hats and boots, similar to Texas garb.

But unlike Texas, Calgary embraces multiculturalism. The mayor of Calgary is a Muslim.

And that is why it is a pity that the Cruz family, where dad Rafael was working in the oil fields in Alberta, moved to Houston in 1974.

It stopped Rafael Edward Cruz, age 4 at the time and a dual citizen because his mother was American and he was born in Canada, from growing up in Canada. That would have changed Cruz’s perspective about health care, and it is unlikely he would become the man who quasi-filibustered in the Senat. For that long talk alone, he needs a swift kick in the tea bag.

Instead, young Teddy attended Faith West Academy in Katy, Texas, and later graduated from Second Baptist High School in Houston. Those may be great schools and by all accounts, Teddy was an exceptional student, but institutions with the names “Faith” and “Baptist” attached to them should be avoided like the plague.

Too often, religion is perverted by overzealous, misguided adherents and closes young minds to a world of differing ideas.

At least Teddy escaped long enough to graduate cum laude from Princeton University, where he won two top speaker awards in debating in 1992. That came to the forefront in his recent filibuster and his stirring reading of the Dr. Seuss classic “Green Eggs and Ham."

To make a long story short, he went on to Harvard in law, served as private counsel for current Speaker of the House John Boehner during the speaker’s law squabbles with Rep. Jim McDermott, and jointed the Bush-Cheney campaign (uh-oh) in 1999. Then he was Texas solicitor general, and got elected to the US Senate in 2012.

The Washington Post described his win as “the biggest upset of 2012.”

Princeton and Harvard must have exposed Cruz to many cultures, philosophies and opinions.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to have taken.

He has been shaped by his parents – Baptist mother and fierce anti-communist father – his Texas upbringing and his political associations.

If he had been brought up in Canada, he would have trusted universal health care because Cruz would have seen it work, and thus would most likely not be so fiercely opposed to Obamacare.

He would have experienced more tolerance.

He would not have attended a Baptist school, but a public secular school where talk and teaching of religion is forbidden.

In Canada, Cruz would have learned abortion is legal because a woman should have control over her own body. He would have seen same-sex couples married, because that, too, is legal in Canada.

He would have seen stricter gun control with background checks. He would have been leery of capital punishment, because it was outlawed eons ago in Canada. He wouldn’t have seen people locked in prison for years, because simple drug possession is treated less harshly in Canada.

On the downside, had Cruz remained in Canada, he likely wouldn’t have attended two of the world’s foremost universities – Princeton and Harvard – where he proved his prowess at academics.

He wouldn’t have been a citizen of the world’s most powerful country, the leader of the free world.

He wouldn’t have been a resident of the country that saved the world from Hitler, boosting the Allies over the top by entering the World War II, something for which Canadians and everyone else living free owes a tremendous debt of gratitude.

He wouldn’t have lived in a country that inspired so many innovations – the electric light bulb, air flight, recording devices, automobile mobility, medical breakthroughs and scientific advancements.

In the end, we are shaped by not only our genes, but by our environment, too.

Cruz is a product of Texas and his parents.

He renounced his Canadian citizenship so he can run for president in 2016.

He is all yours America, for better or for worse.

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