After watching both of Cruz’s defiant speeches – the RNC speech to a hostile crowd, and later his fire laden defense of his family – I couldn’t help but feel a great deal of respect for the man. His actions, whether you liked them or not, were the manifestation of so many disaffected Republican’s feelings.
For those of us who walked away from Trump, Cruz’s actions were nothing short of spectacular. He was civil, and he was positive, but most of all, he was defiant in the face of a fallen party. Cruz’s actions touched the core of those who have walked away, whether they like him or not.
But for many who walked away from a party they no longer recognize, Cruz’s speech was something of a call from within the hijacked Republican party. That beneath the stolen slogans, plagiarized speeches, and conservatism turned must-see-TV, there’s still a Republican party in there.
In short, what Ted Cruz did on that stage Wednesday night was declare that the Republican party of Reagan was still a very solid, and real presence within this new “party of Trump.”
It’d be very hard to say that Cruz’s actions weren’t at all a product of his ambitions, but if we’re being very honest with ourselves, Cruz’s undeniable ability to play political chess just so happened to line up with the principles he shares with many of the apostate Republicans, and if anyone was going to sit at the head of this conservative table, it was going to be Trump’s rival. Somebody had to, and Cruz was best positioned as head of the rebellion.
In other words, Cruz’s RNC speech made himself a rallying point for the alienated rightwing conservatives.
Which is why I can’t fault Cruz for blatantly positioning himself as the figurehead of the Republican mutiny. In terms of principles, politics, and posturing, Cruz almost didn’t have a choice. Even if he did, many still would find themselves wanting to be a part of the inevitable insurrection against the political pirates.
Or as Jonah Goldberg beautifully put it in his recent article about Cruz:
But if the choice is between forgiving Ted Cruz’s obvious political calculation to become the standard bearer of an authentic conservatism or Donald Trump’s lizard-brain narcissism where no principle or cause outranks his own glandular desire to be worshipped, like a conqueror atop the carcass of conservatism, I choose Ted.
Trump certainly doesn’t want to unify the party for a better chance. He allowed Cruz to position himself with the speech, knowing full well what he was going to say, and create the official divide.
For Trump, Cruz’s speech was a refresher on the “us vs them” that inspired the unquestioning defiance against those who wouldn’t follow him. Something to further solidify the loyalty of those who had already joined, and perhaps inspire others to turn away from the division he’s pretending he’s not creating.
But for Cruz, however, this was a line in the sand against what Trump stands for. Yes, it’s division, but it’s division driven by principle, not populism.
The brutally honest truth is that there’s not a lot out there that gives us much confidence that Trump will somehow defeat Hillary Clinton in the general. There’s a good bit of speculation out there that he doesn’t even want to win anyway.
If and when Trump is defeated, the Republican party will be in shambles. Those who jumped onto to it to follow the populist wave Trump created will, in all likelihood, abandon it, and whatever’s left will be broken mess.
But Cruz will still be there, and when people look for a leader to help them rebuild it, they’ll remember him standing on a stage in front a hostile crowd, speaking of the principles that attracted them to the party in the first place. They’ll remember his defiance against the man that destroyed their party, and even those who don’t necessarily like him, or agree with much of what he says, will find a level of respect for him. Many who left may end up finding their way back.
I’ve seen many say that Ted Cruz ended his career Wednesday night, but to many more, he just made himself the leader of the Republican party.