Senator Ted Cruz’s speech at the Republican National Convention last night will go down in the history books. His refusal to formally endorse Trump as the Republican nominee has pushed buttons all over social media, the drive-by media and their talking heads, and in the building in Cleveland last night. Why would he commit what some are calling “political suicide” if all he had to do was say one simple sentence? Let’s take a closer look at this stance from a couple of perspectives.
First, let’s examine this from the perspective of Cruz’s supporters, the actual conservatives who believe in limited government, the Constitution, and freedom. To get a better picture of this group, let’s take a look at how Bernie Sanders’ supporters reacted when the Vermont Senator endorsed Hillary. The word “sell-out” seems to be a fun new nickname for the geezer from the northeast. The principles for which Socialists like the Berns stand are not found in Hillary Clinton, so his support of her is mere political expediency. Sanders saw the support of the she-beast as his only way to retain big money donors in coming election cycles under the umbrella of the DNC. Now, let’s turn back to Cruz. An endorsement of Trump would have held the same baggage for Cruz as Bernie’s endorsement of Hillary. It would have been unprincipled, especially if Cruz doesn’t fully trust Trump, which he doesn’t and neither do Cruz’s supporters as evidenced by the fight to release delegates from their pledges which was largely driven by the #CruzCrew. Cruz’s endorsement also would have put him in the ranks of the establishment, his sworn enemy. Cruz was elected here in Texas because he promised (and completely followed through on his assertion) that as Senator of Texas he would follow the Constitution and his own conscious and principles regardless of the political cost. His supporters were reaffirmed last night in their faith that at least one person in Washington has not lost sight of his job description.
Now, let’s turn to the Trump supporters, those who are tired of political correctness and illegal immigration and an economy continually being ruined by the Democrats. Cruz and Trump have very little in common in terms of style. Where Trump is loud and dismissive to opposition, Cruz is more even-keeled and contemplative about other viewpoints. They may overlap on some policy issues like illegal immigration and veterans’ benefits, but their styles make them strikingly different and attract different supporters. Most Trump supporters would never have voted for Cruz anyway, so there was little risk in alienating them, especially in Cruz’s home state of Texas where Trump lost handily. Therefore, Cruz’s withholding of a formal announcement of support for Trump just fires the Trumpsters up, gets them motivated to get the vote out, probably securing the victory for Trump in November. Yes, I am actually saying that Cruz probably just won the election for Trump by not endorsing the nominee. Look at Facebook or Twitter to see all you need as to how hot and fired up Trump supporters are today. There is no way they are not going to be defending Trump as a great candidate from here until election day. Likewise, those who were on the fence now feel compelled to defend the party nominee.
Credit: Steve Greenberg
Finally, let’s look at everyone else. The Republican establishment received the message that Cruz is not under their thumb and will continue to call out the lies of McConnell (why do you continue to send him to Washington, Kentucky??? WHY?!?!?!) or follow lock-step with what GOPe leaders say, especially after rumors of extortion by the RNC of Cruz for his endorsement were swirling last night. Win for Cruz. Trump gets to look like the one being bullied for once in his life and surely the only time in his political career. Win for Trump. Trump also gets to look magnanimous for “allowing” Cruz to run with this speech sans endorsement. Win for Trump. The media will be talking about this conflict or tension or whatever you want to call it for a couple of weeks keeping both Cruz and Trump on everyone’s mind heading into the DNC convention week. Every minor conflict and Bernie Sanders commentary will include a reference now to Cruz and Trump. Win Republicans, Cruz, and Trump. Cruz got to send a message to Trump saying that I will still be here in the Senate making sure that you follow the Constitution. Win America and Cruz. If Trump does happen to fail – either in November or in his presidency, Cruz will be one of the only politicians who stood for principles over political power, conviction over likability or popularity. And he will be able to gloat, though he won’t. He is too classy to do that. Cruz win. If Trump does succeed in November and in a Trump presidency, Cruz can still choose to support Trump later, once he has earned the support in the mind of Cruz (and a great many conservative #CruzCrew members). Trump and Cruz win. As one last point, Cruz was able to get Trump supporters to admit openly that Trump is not the candidate who will protect freedom or who will uphold the Constitution. Cruz for the win!
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