The purposeful and public display of discord that Cruz and Trump generated at the Republican convention was a stark reminder of the uncertain GOP future. Years from now, this may be the moment when the fracture went public. Ted Cruz’s speech was a cathartic airing of grievances long held beneath the surface. Wednesday night became less of a Convention and more of a GOP Festivus. Much has been made of the optics and who “won’ and lost here.
In terms of objectives, it was a win for both Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. Ted Cruz made it clear that voting your conscience is a legitimate activity in a republic to a chorus of boos from true blue Trumpers and zombie partisans. Trump, with full knowledge of the speech content and a heads up two days prior that there would be no endorsement, orchestrated his entry into the room to set up the very public conflict. People I respect noted this was a disaster for Trump. I’d posit, it’s exactly what Trump wants. It’s not as elegant as Obama’s deployment of “stray voltage” but division as a tool for domination is part of Trump modus operandi.
Trump has made it very clear that he “doesn’t care if the GOP loses the Senate”, routinely mocks Fox News when it serves him and purposefully made Wednesday a display of division. Trump, as Scott Adams notes, enjoys making himself the “enemy of the Democrats enemy”. So in this case, making Cruz an enemy works for him. Democrats repeatedly state Ted Cruz is even worse than Trump. Trump doesn’t care about principles or party platforms because he enjoys the freedom to operate without them.
Trump consistently positions himself as separate from the Republican Party. By stepping into the conventional hall to take the spotlight from Cruz, he seized another opportunity to show division.
Trump hijacked a nationally dysfunctional party and garnered their nomination with zero commitment to party loyalty or any real claim to his Republican bona fides. It’s impressive and horrifying to watch all at the same time. This isn’t a nomination of the head of the Republican Party. This was a sacking where you get to watch the party divide the spoils live on television. This is what made that night so remarkable. It was a public display of a party dividing itself into two or more parts. There are those who think they can wait it out such as Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker while continuing to pretend nothing huge has happened. There are other Republicans such as Ben Sasse, Mitt Romney, and Jeff Flake who have notably voiced their opposition publicly.
But only Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are taking bolder bets and deciding the party wasn’t serving its constituents very well. To be fair, the Paul Ryan’s Better Way Plan to help the poor, is the policy Trump antidote akin to what Ted Cruz did publicly. Ryan misses that people want more than policy to motivate them. They want to have conviction that those are your top priorities. Gaveling in Trump doesn’t really separate you from his brand.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) July 20, 2016
After his speech, conservative’s conscience lie for now with Ted Cruz. The zombie partisan RNC machine that has thrown in with Trump despite very clear evidence Trump and his team has no interest in them. The RNC’s transformation into the Reek to Trump and Manfort’s Ramsey Bolton is almost complete. If beating Hillary Clinton was so important, one has to question the sanity of using Donald Trump to do that. It’s like bringing a knife to a gunfight. Instead, the RNC continues to beat up on conservatives because that’s the fight they prefer. An RNC spokesman was quoted calling Cruz “an a-hole”. John Boehner speaking from his wherever, called him “Lucifer.”People on the convention floor threatened Cruz’s wife forcing Ken Cuccinelli to help her leave. This is a party in the midst of an ugly divorce. Trump wants to run against the Republican brand. He’s challenged multiple party orthodoxies in a way that changes entirely what the party stands for. His team routinely refuses to associate or get help from the RNC and the convention has been a Trump spectacle not a Republican one.
— Scott Lincicome (@scottlincicome) July 21, 2016
Cruz’s speech besides being cathartic for those horrified at a party moving towards someone as unfit as Trump also gave us a glimpse of how Cruz or another conservative candidate might have pivoted in the general. Trump, came in at the end to reinforce he is the NOTCRUZ candidate. This is a man who has repeatedly stated that he is competitive in Connecticut, New York, and California. His coalition is a group of people who boo voting your conscience, ignore the benefits of free trade and demand government led solutions. It’s hard to see how that is different than the Democrats. Conservatives have been removed from the entire conversation. Trump may be right that there is a path to victory by co-opting Democrat voter interests especially with a candidate as unlikable as Hillary. Cruz contrasted with Trump by reiterating that the fight for liberty must continue.
To quote Annie Hall, Ted and Donald just told us all , “What we have on our hands is a dead shark”. As the national GOP crumbles, another way will emerge. In that there is hope.