There has been a lot of sound and fury the last few days over Ted Cruz’s speech at the Republican National Convention.
For full disclosure, I didn’t watch. I couldn’t watch.
Knowing Ted, I knew he would do the right thing and not endorse, but there was that niggling worry that he might get caught up in the moment, slip up and say the words, “Tonight, I endorse Donald Trump for President!”
But he didn’t. It is hard to put into words the reaction I had Wednesday night. Fist pump, primal yell, sigh of relief . . . all of the above.
Some who have claimed leadership of the conservative movement for the last few decades, heck, some even as long as I have been alive, are aghast that Ted would dare show up at the convention AND NOT ENDORSE. Stay away, better to say nothing than do that, they are yelling. I realize conventions have become coronations in hopes that 1976 will never happen again. But conventions were never intended to be coronations. They were intended to be the place where the party hammered out what it believed in and who its standard bearer would be.
It matters that Ted showed up at the convention on Wednesday night. It matters that Trump asked him. It matters that Ted graciously sent his speech over for Trump, Reince and other interested parties to see beforehand. It matters that he stuck to the script.
It matters even more that he stuck to his principles. This was not about 2020.
I know Ted. I have known him for years. From our first phone conversation to our first lunch together over BBQ at Angelo’s in Fort Worth, I have had opportunity to get to know him, to ask him hard questions, to challenge him publicly (TPA) and privately. I didn’t discover Ted, but I got a chance to know him early on and never has there been a day that I have regretted it.
Has he always made the right moves? No. No one can say that.
But Ted Cruz is making all the right moves right now. 100%. When I see others asking, no, begging him to fold, I think, “Why?” I can only imagine the pressure those over the centuries who took a stand received. It’s as if those who are begging him to fold are looking for absolution when in reality they should be applauding him for taking a stand. No one should be ridiculed for standing on principle.
The Republican Party is devolving. Whatever party is moving forward, it is not the party of Reagan. That died Thursday night. As uncomfortable as that makes some, it is true. The Republican Party is not a party of conservative principles any more. That is why Ted going to Cleveland on Wednesday night matters. He was there to remind the delegates, on national TV, of what conservatism is. Not Republicanism. Not Trumpism. Conservatism. The principles of freedom, individual liberty, opportunity, the free markets, lower case “r” republicanism. I think, too, the reason Ted showed up was to show people what it was like to take a stand, a stand for something.
This post isn’t about hero worship. It’s not. I abhor cults of personality. Will Ted Cruz make (in my mind) bad moves in the future? Yes. He’s human.
It’s about understanding why he did what he did this past Wednesday. In a world that seems to be imploding before our very eyes, as Trump supporters of all stripes claim he will right all wrongs and clean up Washington, DC, as people yell that we “Gotta beat Hillary or it’s the end of the world!!” and “It’s about the judges! It’s all about the judges!!” take a moment to appreciate what Ted Cruz did Wednesday night-he took a stand. He reminded people of what it meant to believe in principles. He has built on it since then by going out and campaigning for conservatives across the nation.
What Ted Cruz did Wednesday night matters. It was not easy.
But it matters.