It was a rare act of political courage. Sen. Ted Cruz stood before Republican Party leaders in Cleveland and refused to join them in worshiping Donald J. Trump, a New York liberal who has spent his career waging war on everything conservatives and Republicans claim to hold dear. It was a Daniel moment, when political expedience would have demanded conformity of belief and compromise of conscience, and Sen. Ted Cruz passed the test and in so doing rallied men and women who still believe freedom is worth more than so-called party unity.
The speech was also a Stephen moment, reminiscent of the early church martyr who was stampeded when his words offended the consciences of those who were listening to him. Shockingly, when Ted Cruz talked about the daughter of a slain Dallas police officer’s daughter and the ideals of freedom, limited government, and opportunity, Republican delegates began booing him. They were offended that he would dare talk about a broad vision for the country instead of simply writing a blank-check endorsement of Donald Trump, a man who lied about Cruz’s father, Cruz’s wife, Cruz’s staff, and who repeatedly lied about his own lies about Ted Cruz.
It was Cruz’s remark that Republicans need to “stand and speak and vote your conscience” that drew the most ire both during and after the speech. It would certainly seem that the delegates and party leaders who booed Cruz’s conscience remark felt their own consciences challenged. If RNC attendees really felt they could support Donald Trump in good conscience, and if they really believed Trump represented the very best of the party’s beliefs and ideals, a decision to “vote your conscience” would equal voting for Trump.
That RNC attendees and party leaders equated voting their conscience with opposing Trump reveals an utter lack of moral character within the GOP – and the party’s awareness that it has sold its soul for the sake of a candidate. Repeatedly, party bosses have sold out the conservative grassroots by cutting behind the scenes deals to throw principles to the wind in order to pursue self-interest or the approval of Washington, D.C.-elites. That deal-making attitude, which repeatedly steamrolls conservatives, was on display on Monday and Tuesday of the RNC when an effort to use the RNC’s own rules to force a roll call vote on a new rules package was sabotaged by dirty tricks, microphones turned off, and RNC officials fleeing their post to hide until the controversy passed. Trump and his team are fully united with the very establishment they proclaimed to hate during the primary.
An oft-repeated refrain in the hours after the speech was that Cruz violated his pledge to support the Republican nominee, a pledge required of all GOP presidential candidates by the RNC. “What about Ted Cruz’s word?” these critics ask. Fair point.
When Ted Cruz promised to back the GOP nominee it was a pledge to NOT run as a third party candidate, a possibility envisioned by Reince Priebus and others who thought that if Donald Trump did not win the nomination he would self-fund an independent presidential bid. Politico reported in September of 2015
“The Republican National Committee on Wednesday privately reached out to GOP presidential candidates to ask whether they’d be willing to sign a pledge stating they would not run as an independent candidate in the event they fail to win the Republican nomination in 2016.”
The only people who believe Ted Cruz violated his loyalty pledge on Wednesday night are those who believe they must violate their conscience by voting for Donald Trump.