If Ted Cruz thinks Donald Trump is a vicious and unforgiving opponent, he ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Thanks to a speech he gave Sunday night in Indiana, Cruz is up against one of the Internet’s most formidable foes: the mom brigades.
Even as the battle over America’s future rages on in speeches and on 24-hour news channels, the battle over how best to raise children rages on in Internet comments sections. Mothers of the Internet engage in some of the fiercest battles the web has ever known, over everything from diapers to dairy products—and especially the use of corporal punishment.
Cruz was interrupted Sunday by a heckler shouting “you suck!” The Presidential candidate responded by suggesting that a good whack on the bottom would do the young man some good: “You know, in my household, when a child behaves that way, they get a spanking.”
Weirdly, Cruz mentions spanking surprisingly often on the campaign trail. Back in January, he suggested that voters should spank Hillary Clinton at the ballot box, and he’s mentioned that America has a way of “administering a spanking” the same way he disciplines his kids when they say “something they know to be false.” He also said, just this weekend, that our willingness to spank children reveals “who we are as a people.”
But while Cruz might see invoking his parenting style as pure rhetoric, the Internet went immediately haywire over his advice. One blogger decried that “you shouldn’t get parenting advice from Cruz,” because obviously the Republican candidate’s habit of punishing his kids for their wrongdoing demonstrates his latent patriarchal tendencies and his penchant for sexism.
And then the moms weighed in, offering statistics, unsolicited advice and a helpful offer to report Cruz to Child Protective Services:
— Now Playing (@jfleit) May 2, 2016
@tedcruz and on behalf of every parent that's been told how to discipline their child: Screw you and your parenting advice.
— Truth is Empowering (@ExplorerMom2) May 2, 2016
— Sandi Banks (@ooscsouthoc) May 2, 2016
— Dr.Estella Sneider (@DrEstella) May 2, 2016
— New York Magazine (@NYMag) May 2, 2016
— Bob Schooley (@Rschooley) May 1, 2016
A few even gave Cruz some advice of their own, linking him to studies showing the long-term impact of spanking on children and suggesting a few options that are more positive than spanking. One site even linked back to a story filed the first time Cruz talked about spanking, where a psychologist gave detailed instructions on exactly how Cruz is systematically ruining his children’s lives by whacking them on their bottoms when they commit a social offense.
The good news for Cruz is that, while the moms of the Internet may not agree that he’s pursuing parenting the correct way, Republican voters are receptive to the idea of using corporal punishment on children by a huge margin. If the talking point didn’t work wonders—and a wonder is what he’ll need in Tuesday’s Indiana primary—he’d have stopped using it back in January.
And if this President thing doesn’t work out for Cruz, he might just have a future as a parenting expert.