Ted Cruz Unbowed

Last night, Ted Cruz gave his big speech at the GOP convention. This was highly anticipated and highly controversial. The sequence of events that led to it began with Trump warning that Cruz would not be allowed a speaking slot unless he first kissed Trump’s gilded ring. Cruz shrugged it off with indifference. Perhaps being a little concerned with party unity, Trump eventually caved and asked Cruz to speak, not dictating that he also endorse. Cruz accepted. Since then, the talk among pundits and Trump surrogates was about whether or not Cruz would or should endorse Donald, with some even questioning Cruz’s party loyalty and manhood, should he choose not to. When the time for the speech came, for the first two thirds, it was extremely well received. In it, he buttressed the substance of what Conservatives believe, where up until now had been mostly lacking at the Cleveland convention. He hit all the points that Republicans have expressed care for, such as freedom and limited government, and it even included a touching anecdote about the daughter of one of the slain officers of Dallas which bookended his remarks. At many points he received enormous applause for his well-spoken monologue. However, when he arrived at the part where he urged all voters and particularly his supporters to refrain from staying home in November, a theme that should be appreciable by any Trump supporter, the mood of the throng began to change. Cruz exhorted them to vote for, “up and down the ballot”, candidates that support the Constitution… at this, a sizable portion of his audience started booing, which was followed by chants demanding Cruz endorse Trump. The raucous noise continued to the end of his speech.

No. Cruz did not endorse Trump, a point of consternation for the Trump cult, and embarrassing to the other GOP regulars who had already done so, if only begrudgingly. Cruz was not, however, openly critical of Trump, even congratulating him on his nomination. For me, I think perhaps Ted was even too kind to this man that threw every bit of slime that he could at him during the primary, including attacking his wife and accusing his father of being complicit in the JFK assassination. If the reception of Cruz’s otherwise innocuous remarks weren’t obvious enough, then let me be plain, Donald Trump and his most ignorant supporters don’t deserve Cruz’s endorsement. Their booing him when he spoke of conscience and Constitution merely punctuates how bereft they are of principle, derelict in a sea of ignorance. Nonetheless, if Trump wanted Cruz’s endorsement, I believe he could have had it. Together with extending common decency, something Trump is loath to bestow on an opponent, all he had to do is affirm his own loyalty to the Constitution and Liberty. The fact that he couldn’t do this should be a concern to all freedom loving Americans. Yet, this is not even the main concern. Cruz’s speech was an embarrassment to Trump, not because it lacked endorsement, but because it was a glaring demonstration that Ted is and was true to the very principles that Donald Trump only occasionally pretends to believe in. Ted may now be playing the role of the weeping prophet, telling a dissolute people that which they would rather not hear, but his words were nonetheless potent, and true. His presence was a reminder of what could have been. Imagine. We might have had this competent, resolute principled, ethical, and gifted candidate as our nominee to cast a stark contrast to the corruption and avarice that is Clinton. Instead, what we ended up with as head of our party is a glitzy humbug, unconvincing in his assertions of conviction and plagued by his own numerous ethical scandals.

If recent reports are true, those of Trump offering the presidency in all but name to would-be VP Kasich with Trump merely retaining the POTUS title and all self-honoring duties, then there may be a good shot that Mike Pence, the nominated VP, will be the real President in the event of a Trump victory. That sort of rationale might be enough for some Conservatives to ultimately, with great pangs of conscience, pull the lever for Trump and against Hillary, but last night’s speech made something very clear. Trump may be the current head of the national Republican Party, but Cruz is its future. Trump may hold the reigns of GOP power and its errant heart, but Ted Cruz, unbowed and undaunted, holds its soul.

 

– Ryan Thorson