Since his endorsement of Donald Trump on Friday, Ted Cruz has repeatedly insisted that his about-face on the Republican nominee was one based not in political calculation, but in principle. Principle, of course, is singular here because that decision was supposedly based on one principle and one principle only: that Hillary Clinton must be stopped from obtaining the presidency. Indeed, Cruz’s endorsement of Trump seems to have so little to do with Trump himself that Cruz still refuses to declare that Trump is fit to serve as commander-in-chief.
But if the sole objective from the outset of this election process was stopping Hillary Clinton, I would respectfully pose this question to Senator Cruz: what then was the point of supporting you?
To put it lightly, Cruz’s candidacy faced long, seemingly insurmountable odds from the beginning. The stink of government shutdowns and Tea Party notoriety exuded from him. He was too conservative. Too Texan. He was the Zodiac Killer, as the popular internet meme claimed. He was too stubborn and set-in-his-ways to ever make a serviceable commander-in-chief.
As Glenn Beck pointed out on his radio program on Monday, the obvious choice if Republicans were only looking to pick a winner was Marco Rubio. The youthful, fresh-faced Hispanic from a swing state who beamed with optimism and spoke impeccable Spanish. A slam dunk candidate if there ever was one. But Rubio was not the only Republican candidate that entered the primary with a more favorable public image than Cruz. There was Scott Walker, the Midwestern governor who had already beaten his own long odds by staving off a recall effort in a blue state. There was John Kasich, whose brand of compassionate conservatism was sure to resonate with moderate and independent voters. By my count, at least seven out of the fifteen other candidates (maybe more) entered the primary process with a rosier outlook than Cruz.
And yet conservatives flocked to Cruz anyway. He spoke with a profound admiration of our Constitution and our founding values that resonated with us. We didn’t support him because we thought he had the best chance of winning. We supported him because we hoped he could win. And when the immovable Ted Cruz took the convention stage and stood fast behind those convictions that caused so many of us to rally around him from the beginning, our faiths were seemingly rewarded.
And then, when the outlook grew darker and the walls seemed to be closing in, he moved.
By no means have I ruled out the possibility of supporting Senator Cruz if he were to choose to run for president again when the time comes. When it comes to Republican lawmakers, he remains one of the most reliably conservative. But I would hope instead that when that election comes, another conservative will come along who refuses to move. Someone who recognizes that certain ideas are always more important than simply winning.
Someone that I can hope for again.