What you’re about to read is a brutally honest opinion about Senator Cruz and his recent endorsement of Trump. So allow me to make some things crystal clear from the outset:
1)This is not an emotional reaction on my part. From the moment Trump became the nominee I’ve said I’m fine with Cruz voting for Trump and even telling others to do so, but that an endorsement was unacceptable to me.
2)I respect anyone who still supports Cruz after this, and believes he’s just doing what he feels is best for himself (no one can deny this part at this point) and the country. I don’t share that belief, but I understand that after years of following and supporting a politician, strong bonds of loyalty develop, and they’re hard to break. Also, there are very few true conservatives left in Congress who are willing to fight for us, so I have no problem with Cruz supporters continuing to support Cruz in his fights in the Senate, even if he’s a very flawed vessel for that support.
3)From the moment I started following Senator Cruz closely, which was during his fight over Obamacare and the gov’t shutdown, my gut instinct told me he was a political opportunist who would do anything to advance towards his goal of one day becoming president. I also think he’s a good man who loves his family and his country. That’s where the conflict lies. One can be both of those things, and they often conflict with each other, which is what ended up happening with Cruz. I’ve kept these opinions to myself for the most part for the entire election cycle. However, I did call Cruz out for not attacking Trump in the primaries, and for putting strategy above principle throughout his campaign. I got some heat for it both here and on twitter, as you can see from some of the comments on those articles, and that’s ok. Reasonable people can disagree about politics and politicians because politicians are people, and people are complex and nuanced. But I just wanted to make it clear that this isn’t a new position or opinion for me, it’s just one I’ve kept to myself for the most part for reasons that I’ll get into shortly.
Why I was never fully on board the Cruz train
At this point, I find myself in what appears to be a unique position. I wasn’t an original Cruz supporter, but became one after Rubio exposed himself as just another typical politician who, in my opinion, will say and do anything to get elected. So I jumped on the Cruz train not because I was a big Cruz fan, but because I had nowhere else to go. He was the last option for conservatives like myself who actually care about conservative and Christian principles and values. Being a supporter of a political candidate, you tend to take their side on nuanced issues, even if they might be wrong, because you want them to win and thus feel its your job to help them do that, even if you suspect they aren’t being 100% honest or straightforward about a particular issue. That’s what I often did in defending Cruz both against liberals and moderate conservatives who said all along he was a phony.
But I also made it clear to my fellow Cruz supporters that we can’t create a cult of personality around him the way Trumpsters did with Trump. We can’t put our trust in any politician because they’re human and fail, and thus will always disappoint us to some degree, some more than others. We should only put our trust and faith in God, who will never change and never let us down. I saw this happening with some Cruz supporters, and I knew it wouldn’t end well, because I suspected all along he was merely riding the wave of our support as long as it lasted, which he hoped would carry him to the presidency.
All these months I felt like I was alone in the political arena, because deep down I agreed with the liberals and the Kasich, Rubio, and Jeb supporters who said Cruz was above all else a political opportunist who would do whatever it took to get elected. That’s why I took a nuanced view of his role in the gov’t shutdown over Obamacare. I believed Obamacare should be fought and that it was good Cruz was bringing attention to it and rallying conservatives, but I also understood that the main reason he chose to pick a fight everyone knew he couldn’t win was to use the platform as a way to unofficially launch his campaign for president. Most people believed this, which is why in the end it did more harm than good to the cause, because it made it about him, a polarizing politician, and not about the actual case against Obamacare.
But I also agreed with Cruz supporters who’ve always believed that Cruz was a true conservative who believed deeply and strongly in the Constitution and conservative principles, and was willing to fight for them. The problem arises with the fact that he was turning those fights into media campaigns to advance his presidential ambitions, which again made the issues we care about all about him, and the substance of the issues was lost.
So I held my tongue for all these months, despite believing in my gut that Cruz was conning us, and would sell us out, IF the right opportunity presented itself, or if he felt like he was backed into a corner and had no other choice. Let’s think about this: What does it say about a so called “conservative leader” that he gives into peer pressure like a nerd in high school who’s at a party, and all the jocks and popular girls tell him if he wants to be cool and not be bullied he should get drunk and do whatever stupid stuff they want him to do?
It tells me he’s simply not suited to be president. Reagan would’ve never found himself in this position because he didn’t stick his finger in the wind and wait to see what people wanted him to do, he created his own path, and convinced people to follow him on that path. Cruz has done just the opposite. He’s been searching for a path to lead him to the presidency, and when one path appears to be blocked, he simply leaves it and starts walking down a new path that appears to be open. He’s not a trailblazer, he’s a trail-follower. While I do believe he has a great temperament and a brilliant mind, his main problem would be struggling to balance his political calculations with decisions that might be the best for the country but could conflict with those calculations. Every president has to fight this conflict to some degree, but I believe it would be a big problem for Cruz.
I kept these opinions to myself for several reasons:
1.)I truly wanted to believe I was wrong about him, because I’ve been wrong about politicians before, as we all have, so I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt as long as possible.
2.)There really weren’t any other options left for conservatives, so I felt like it was counterproductive to write too many negative things about Cruz, because it would be like shooting myself in the foot. I recognized that every politician has flaws and weaknesses and Cruz was no different. But I wasn’t supporting him so much as the values and principles he represented. He was a vessel for those, so it didn’t make sense to do anything to weaken that vessel. That being said, I did call him out for his mistakes, such as hiring Rick Tyler, or for running a campaign that was far too narrow-minded in who it targeted, as well as his style of speaking and the way he gave speeches on the campaign trail.
3.) I didn’t want to be a thorn in the side of my fellow Cruz supporters. It was hard enough for them to deal with the almost constant attacks from supporters of Rubio, Jeb, Kasich, and the usual liberals. They didn’t need me piling on about Cruz’s weaknesses.
Now that Cruz has done what most of us Cruz supporters warned and begged him not to do, I believe he’s exposed himself as the man I always thought he was- a political opportunist first and foremost who values being president above any set of principles or beliefs. Therefore, I now feel free to say what I really think about him and his words and actions. If I’m being perfectly honest, after I found out he endorsed Trump, I felt a sense of relief, because I no longer had to defend him to my fellow conservatives who never liked him as a principled man of integrity who never lies.
He was never my ideal candidate, which I explained here, and I always thought he should’ve stayed in the Senate instead of running for president.
Cruz has always wanted to be president, starting at an early age. It’s why he’s always been a strategist first, conservative second. I don’t consider myself an expert on Cruz, however, so I refer you to Erica Grieder, who is such an expert on him if there ever was one. She explains this aspect of Cruz’s political career and many others here.
As this video made clear, Cruz has been thinking about running for president pretty much his entire life. This has been corroborated by his college roommate and others who’ve known him throughout his life. In fact, Cruz himself made it clear that it was his goal all the way back in high school with his senior yearbook page. There’s nothing wrong with ambition, but one thing we should’ve learned from Obama is that we should never trust someone whose ego is so big that they’ve been thinking about being president before they ever had any experience or qualifications to hold that office. In this regard Cruz and Obama are very much alike. The problem with having that level of ambition and desire is that the person holding it will do whatever it takes to make that dream come true. But life is messy, and people and principles often get in the way of such an ambition. When they do, a politician has to make a choice between risking destroying his dream, or doing whatever it takes and kicking both people and principles to the curb when they get in his way. Obama has done this his entire life and thus is much more guilty of it than Cruz, who has only recently done it. But Cruz sold out when it mattered most, with the most important decision of his political career.
Cruz betrayed his principles and his supporters by not speaking out against Trump early on
It should be noted that in reality Cruz already betrayed us, it’s just that many Cruz supporters buried their heads in the sand, or had blinders on their eyes and defended that betrayal. It was when he refused to say a single bad word about Trump from the moment Trump announced he was running until after December of last year, when Trump already picked up a head of steam and was well on his way to the nomination, even if we didn’t realize it yet. After Cruz started attacking Trump, we joined in those attacks. But did this not contradict our defense of Cruz’s earlier position of being neutral or even praising Trump at times? Of course it did, but we twisted ourselves into knots defending him on that because we believed it was merely a strategy he was employing, and that made it ok. I did some of that twisting myself. But it wasn’t ok, and we shouldn’t have defended it for a second. Just because something might be an effective strategy, doesn’t make it right for a politician to do. Sometimes a politician must take a stand and speak out against something or someone who’s wrong, no matter what it might cost him politically. That was the case with Cruz and Trump, and he chose to put his career above doing the right thing.
What would it have taken for Cruz to abandon that strategy and finally go after Trump? The fact that we even have to ask that question speaks for itself. What line would Trump have had to cross for Cruz to speak out against him at a time when it might’ve hurt him politically? Principles and values only matter if you’re willing to defend them at times and in situations that have the potential to create maximum suffering or cost to you, mentally, physically, financially, and in terms of your reputation and career. Otherwise, there’s no point in pretending you care about them. If you abandon them when they’re inconvenient or get in the way of your ambitions, it tells me you didn’t value them as much as you claimed you did. Unfortunately, that was the case with Cruz. We never found out what line Cruz was willing to allow Trump to cross before attacking him early on, but I suspect he would’ve allowed things to get really ugly before he finally realized there has to be some limit to what he can tolerate before he speaks out against a politician who is doing and saying morally objectionable things.
After Trump was nominated, my fellow #NeverTrump Cruz supporters and I relentlessly attacked Trump for being the antithesis of everything we’ve been fighting for in the conservative movement for decades, and rightly so. Yet Cruz didn’t say a word about him, and even defended him at times, for months throughout the fall and winter of 2015. Let that sink in. Cruz gave a pass to the man who represented everything he’d been fighting against his entire life, simply because he thought it wouldn’t alienate Trumpsters, who he could then somehow magically win over, even though they clearly didn’t care one bit about conservative principles. In hindsight we can see how foolish and delusional this was on Cruz’s part.
Donald Trump was the litmus test for conservative voters and politicians both in terms of character and in terms of principle. Those who defended his outrageous comments, policies, lies, and flip-flops were exposing themselves as people who cared about power, social status, and winning elections more than character, values, principles, and conservative policies that would decrease the size of gov’t and make the Constitution the cornerstone of our gov’t.
Remember about a year ago when everyone was saying how deep and talented the 2016 GOP primary field was? I was one of those people, and we couldn’t have been more wrong. The moral of the story here is to look beyond what a candidate says or does, and how they appear on paper, and thoroughly examine their entire record and life history. If we did that with each candidate, I think we would’ve been far less surprised at how all of the candidates refused to stand up to an incompetent bully like Trump, and instead fought each other, when they had far more in common with each other than with Trump. Turns out almost all of em were clowns, frauds, or cowardly sellouts. Who’d have thought the last two men standing against Trump would be John Kasich and Jeb Bush? I sure didn’t, and for that I owe an apology to all the conservatives who supported them in the primaries. I did my fair share of bashing of both of them, and they often deserved it, but before trying to take the specks out of their eyes, I should’ve taken the plank out of mine and held Cruz to the same level of accountability I held the other candidates to.
Cruz’s contradictory statements show his endorsement isn’t sincere
As for Cruz’s actual endorsement, where do I even start, there’s so much that is disingenuous about it, and frankly, insulting to our intelligence. At a press conference in May, Cruz quite literally said,
“Donald Trump will betray his supporters on every issue. If you care about immigration, Donald is laughing at you,” Cruz said then. “And he’s telling the moneyed elites he doesn’t believe what he’s saying, he’s not going to build a wall. That’s what he told the New York Times.”
“He will betray you on every issue across the board,” he continued.”
He called Trump out for being the con man he truly is. One thing I don’t think anyone disputes, even his fiercest critics, is that Cruz is a brilliant man. So he must’ve known all along that Trump is a con man who could care less about his supporters or really anyone who isn’t of use to him in helping him achieve his goals. But in his facebook post yesterday, he tried to convince us that Trump will follow through on his immigration plans, and even adopted the Trumpster talking point that we should trust him to nominate conservatives justices to the Supreme Court, despite the fact that Trump has literally flip flopped on every issue, and the Supreme Court will be no different.
Furthermore, he’s now using another talking point that prominent Trumpsters have been using for months, which is that this is a binary election between Hillary and Trump, and that there are no other options. This completely negates the entire premise of his convention speech in Cleveland, where he ended by forcefully and passionately saying we should “vote our conscience”. That phrase makes no sense whatsoever if the election is a binary choice, as he’s now saying, because if our conscience is telling us that neither Trump nor Hillary are qualified and fit to hold the office of the presidency, then it would also tell us that we can’t vote for either, making the binary choice argument irrelevant. The only way a smart man like Cruz makes two contradictory and logically inconsistent arguments like this is if he’s stumbling over himself to defend a position that wasn’t arrived at honestly. We see politicians do this all the time, and they always end up looking foolish, like Mike Pence has countless times these past few months. It’s just disappointing that Senator Cruz has chosen to stoop to the level of lesser politicians to keep his presidential dreams alive.
What’s even more disturbing is that according to reports, Trump and Cruz have been talking about the endorsement for weeks, and it appears that either Cruz asked Trump to add Mike Lee to his list of potential justices he would nominate to the Supreme Court, or Trump offered it as a way to convince Cruz to endorse him. Think about that. Cruz apparently worked behind the scenes with the guy who attacked his family and constantly called him a liar to betray us. Cruz has long railed against the “cartel” in DC that’s made up of career politicians in both parties. How ironic then that he sided with members of that cartel, and ultimately with Trump over his own supporters.
Why I believe Cruz’s endorsement had nothing to do with his conscience
I believe this endorsement was just another political calculation in Cruz’s mind. I’m sure he spent months agonizing over it, but in the end he caved to the donors, who no doubt told him they wouldn’t support his re-election campaign for Senate, or his run for president in 2020. He also apparently gave into his fear of what some polls were showing, which was that if he didn’t endorse Trump, there was a chance that he could lose his primary battle for the Senate to a Republican backed by the establishment. That doesn’t make him a bad person. It just makes him another typical politician, the kind you can find anywhere in the corridors of power in Congress. What hurts my fellow Cruz supporters is that he pretended to be the opposite of that, a principled man of integrity who wouldn’t go along to get along, be a team player, and do what the pollsters, donors, and establishment pressured or influenced him to do. They believed him, and weren’t unreasonable for doing so because he spent years building up this image, and didn’t give them any reason to doubt it, until Trump came along and forced him to take that litmus test I referenced earlier, which he failed.
The most ironic thing about this endorsement is that Cruz has revealed that he thinks his supporters are no different than Trumpsters and will support him no matter what. Clearly he’s banking on winning his senate seat back and using that platform to launch his campaign for president in 2020, and believes by then we’ll all have forgotten this betrayal, or no longer be angry about it. Certainly there will be a certain percentage of Cruz supporters who will support him again, but based on what I’ve seen from twitter and elsewhere, a chunk of his base is done with him. This should come as no surprise to Cruz, who has always said we should put principles over party and personalities. That’s exactly why we supported him, and why many of us are now saying he’s dead to us. Once he betrayed the very principles and values we supported him for, he was of no use to us. No politician is if they don’t adhere to the principles they claim to represent.
As for Cruz’s convention speech, it turns out the people who were saying it was just a political tactic to position himself as the leader of the conservative movement were right. If he truly believed the only way to stop Hillary is to support Trump, he should’ve and would’ve endorsed Trump back then, when it would’ve had maximum political impact. But he didn’t, because at the time he must’ve thought Trump had no chance of winning, and therefore it would be better for him politically to distance himself from him. But the political winds shifted along with the polls, and weeks later Trump was in striking distance of Hillary. This changed Cruz’s political calculus, and must’ve convinced him that he had to endorse Trump because he thought if the race was too close to call and Trump narrowly lost, he would be a central figure who would be blamed by the trifecta of Trumpsters, donors, and establishment Republicans who will be looking to point fingers at everyone except the person who deserves the blame the most, Donald Trump.
You can’t say “vote your conscience” in July, and then in September endorse the man who violated your conscience in a million different ways. Those two things are incompatible, and I think Cruz knows it deep down. You either believe in a candidate or you don’t. If Cruz believed Trump would keep his promises to us on immigration, the Supreme Court, and everything else, surely he would’ve said so at the convention. Trump hasn’t changed since then. The only thing that’s changed is the polls, and with them, Cruz’s political calculations. I suspect if Trump was getting crushed in the polls right now and recently said something extremely offensive, Cruz would’ve stayed silent and never endorsed him.
The bottom line is Senator Cruz conned us, just like Trump conned his supporters. He told us one thing, but behind the scenes he was doing another, and eventually planning on stabbing us in the back when the time was right. Cruz started the hashtag #MakeDCListen during his fight on Obamacare and even created a PAC with that name, but it turns out he wasn’t listening to the grassroots in deciding whether or not to endorse Trump, he was listening to the donors and pollsters who told him he needed to endorse in order to have their money and support both in 2018 for his re-election, and in 2020 for his likely second run for the presidency.
Now I’m free to start looking for a new conservative leader who will fill the void left by Cruz. I am hopeful and optimistic, which I know is a fool’s errand in politics, but in politics I live by the motto “hope for the best, expect the worst”. Maybe there’s a true conservative out there who is willing to fight for us and can beat Hillary in 2020, maybe there isn’t. I won’t put my trust in him or her, just like I didn’t put my trust in Cruz, because I don’t trust any politician. In hindsight it’s kind of ironic that Cruz used the TrusTed slogan. Turns out that slogan represented his playing of the political game and strategy, and in fact he couldn’t be trusted. Either way, I’ll be keeping my eye out for new conservative leaders, and in the meantime I’ll be doing my part to try and build bridges with all the conservatives who supported other candidates, and to rebuild the conservative movement from the ground up after Trump leaves it in ruins. Whether you support Cruz going forward or not, I hope you’ll join me. God hasn’t changed and He’s still on our side. His plans for our lives haven’t changed either. Let’s keep that in mind as we work together to find common ground and rejoin the fight for the soul of our country.