I already know what I’m about to write is going to annoy some of my fellow Cruz supporters. I’ve heard all the arguments against the idea that Cruz must come out as a full-fledged #NeverTrump guy. I will admit that some of them are valid, but not valid enough to convince me that his current position is sustainable.
One argument is that it’s just a bad political strategy to say you won’t vote for Trump in the general, and that it alienates Trumpsters. To that I say they’re already alienated and it’s likely that there’s nothing Cruz can do to win them back. If my debates with Trumpsters on Twitter are any indication of how this will play out, Trump and his surrogates have smeared Cruz so badly that Trumpsters are convinced he’s Satan incarnate.
That’s how a cult of personality works, the cult members are devoted to the cult leader, and anyone who attacks or criticizes that leader, in this case Cruz and his supporters, must be destroyed because they threaten to shatter the illusion and the alternate reality the cult members have created for themselves.
Another argument is that Cruz going back on his word reinforces the narrative Trump has put out there that Cruz is a typical politician who lies about everything. But this also doesn’t hold water for me for several reasons. First, Trump has also hinted that he might not support Cruz if he’s the nominee, even if he wins the nomination fair and square at the convention. So if Trump criticizes Cruz for going back on his word, Cruz could hit Trump right back for the same thing, thus neutralizing that argument.
Furthermore, Cruz could frame it as putting the country over his party. He could say by blindly pledging allegiance to a party or a party’s leader, no matter how bad of a candidate that leader is, he’d just be doing what typical politicians do. On the other hand, if he refuses to support someone who lies and who has no decency, like Trump, as a matter of principle, it would prove that he is a man of principle, as he’s shown us all along.
It’s time Sen. Cruz comes out and says straight up he won’t support Trump if he’s the nominee. No more dancing around the issue, it’s making him look like another typical politician. He should just admit that he made a mistake at the time and that he’s honest enough to admit when he’s made a mistake.
No doubt this will be a tough thing to do, but I think it’s the right thing to do. I think Trumpsters already know Cruz won’t support Trump if he’s the nominee.
I think there’s so much bad blood between Trump and Cruz already that Trumpsters and Cruz supporters are already in their camps, and nothing will change their minds. Cruz saying he’s #NeverTrump would just confirm and reflect what’s already happening.
I actually think that headline would be better than the headlines we’re getting now- “Cruz waffles on pledge to support Trump”. It makes it look like he’s trying to please both camps, which he is, and that usually doesn’t end well. Rubio found that out the hard way. So did Rand Paul. When you try to please everyone, you usually end up pleasing no one and turning off the people who’ve been loyal to you all along.
I believe most Trumpsters will stay home in the general if Trump isn’t the nominee. Why? Because they aren’t voting based on principles, they’re voting for a man. You take the man away and they have no reason to vote for anyone else.
These are the same people who stayed home in 2008 and 2012. They aren’t engaged in the political process and typically know nothing about the issues that grassroots conservatives are passionate about. Take Trump out of the equation, and I’m guessing they’ll stay home again. No amount of pandering or tip-toeing around issues while trying to avoid angering them is likely to bring them into the Cruz camp.
One reason I’m convinced this won’t work is because Cruz already tried it, in fact his entire strategy early on in the race was based on trying to win over Trumpsters. He didn’t realize it was a cult of personality until it was too late. He cozied up to Trump and never said a single bad word about him for months, going so far as to praise him and call him “terrific”.
What did all that wooing of Trumpsters get him? Absolutely nothing. Trump went on to win over the large numbers of “evangelicals” and blue collar workers in the South who were Cruz’s target voters. My guess is Cruz could’ve started attacking Trump all the way back in October and would’ve ended up exactly where he is now, with the added benefit of being consistent in his strategy and seeming less like a typical politician.
Voters want a candidate who “tells it like it is”. Cruz has basically already said he won’t support Trump, when he said “I don’t typically support people who attack my family”. I think it would help him if he just came out and said “I can’t support someone who attacks my family, and women in general, and who is unprepared to be president”. That would be telling it like it is, and I think even people who don’t like Cruz would respect that.
If I were advising Sen. Cruz, I would tell him he should give the following answer to the question of whether or not he’d support Trump if he’s the nominee:
“Why don’t you ask Donald if he’ll support me if I’m the nominee?”
Why is it that I’m always asked this question, but Donald is never asked the same question about me?”
That would turn the tables on the media, while shifting the focus back on Trump and putting pressure on him to answer that question.
Then, if the reporter says Trump said he’ll support the eventual nominee, Cruz should say,
“Well, that’s great, because I intend to be that nominee. But if I’m not, I can’t and won’t support the type of liberal Republican who I’ve spent my entire political career fighting against. Voters have often heard me say the following statement:
“All of us are frustrated out of our minds, that career politicians in Washington in both parties, Democrats and Republicans, make promises on the campaign trail that they don’t follow through. And, indeed, I’ve referred many times to what I call “the Washington Cartel” — which is career politicians in both parties getting in bed with lobbyists with special interests.”
I would be a hypocrite if I spent my entire time in the Senate, and then my entire time running for president speaking out against progressives in both parties who stand for nothing other than keeping the status quo in place and getting rich off the system, and then turn around and support a candidate who is the perfect embodiment of that kind of big gov’t, status quo politician. Donald Trump is that kind of politician, and I can’t in good conscience support him if he’s the nominee.
But I have good news for everyone. I’m only responding to a hypothetical question right now, and in the end it’s a meaningless question because Donald isn’t going to be the nominee. I intend to win over the delegates of all the candidates who’ve dropped out, as well as many of Donald’s own delegates, and in doing so, we’ll win a resounding victory at the convention on the second ballot.
Then, we’ll unite the party. I think this can be done because I’ll point out to the millions of Republicans who voted for Donald that even if they don’t like me or don’t agree with me on every issue, deep down they know I’ll be a better president than Hillary Clinton. If they care about this country and wanna do what’s best for it, and I believe they do, (this is Cruz speaking, not me) then they’ll come out to vote for me in November because they know we can’t afford another four more years of Obama’s failed liberal policies.”
If Trump then says he wouldn’t support Cruz in the general, that would give Cruz the cover he needs to justify joining the #NeverTrump movement, among other things. If Trumpsters get angry because of this, Cruz can turn around and tell them, “There’s no reason to be angry with me, unless you’re also angry with your candidate for not supporting me in the general and handing the election to Hillary.”
He could then pivot from that into an explanation of why he can’t support Trump, and why Trumpsters should still support him in the general over Hillary.
Cruz should end his statement by saying this:
I wanted to give Donald the benefit of the doubt. He’s brought new people to the GOP and I know many of his supporters agree with me on issues like immigration and trade. That’s why I’m asking them to support me if I’m the nominee.
But when Donald insulted my wife, and then smeared and lied about a female reporter who was assaulted by his campaign manager, that was a bridge too far. I simply can’t support someone who will stoop so low as to attack a candidate’s family members, who will do anything to get elected, because if he does these things now, imagine what he’ll do with the full weight and power of the presidency and the federal gov’t behind him.
If this was one or two incidents it’d be bad enough, but this is a pattern of behavior that stems from a culture in the Trump campaign that lacks decency, civility, honesty, and integrity.
I’m not the only one who feels this way, I can tell you most of my supporters do as well. They’ve also wanted to give Donald the benefit of the doubt, but he’s poisoned the well so much that it’s now a bridge too far for them to support him in the general. And despite his empty rhetoric and promises, Donald hasn’t done anything to try and unify the party. If anything, he’s doing more each and every day to divide it, because his strategy from the start has been to divide and conquer the Republican party.
We simply can’t nominate him because even if you ignore all of the ideological reasons not to nominate him, a simple practical reason is that he can’t beat Hillary. Not only has Hillary beaten Donald in virtually every poll for the past few months, but she does so resoundingly, and this is before she’s run a single attack ad against him.
But even more importantly, no GOP nominee can beat any Democrat in a general election without having the full grassroots conservative base behind him 100%. Donald has gotten this far by destroying his Republican opponents and shattering the party, but what that means in the general is that a big chunk of the base will either stay home or vote for a third party candidate. The exit polls in every state so far have confirmed that.
With Donald’s already sky high unfavorable ratings among young people, women, and minorities, he simply can’t afford to lose support with the voters who are supposed to be behind him 100%. But that’s exactly what will happen if he’s the nominee, and it would lead to a landslide defeat in November.
So even if I’m not your first choice for president, or even if you voted for Donald, I ask that you put the country over the party and over your personal preferences, and join me in uniting the Republican party and going on to defeating Hillary in the general and restoring the Constitution and the values and policies that made this country great in the first place.”
This is good training for Sen. Cruz for the presidency. A president leads, he doesn’t follow. He does things that might not be popular initially, but are the right thing to do. Such is the case with supporting Trump.
A president doesn’t allow himself to be led by the polls, he makes a decision based on principle and then tries to change the polls.
I believe that is what this decision for Sen. Cruz involves. Many people, especially Trumpsters might be angry about it initially or not understand it now. But in time I believe Cruz’s decision to say for certain he won’t back Trump will be seen as the bold stand of a future president, who refused to give into peer pressure or shy away from what he really believed in his heart, and who stood for civility, decency, and conservative principles above party loyalty and the pressures of a presidential campaign.