For all of the complaining that the Trump camp (and I include his many followers in that term) has done over what Cruz said, his position really was the most principled one anyone could take. Note, I’m saying his was literally the most principled position logically possible. Cruz didn’t endorse Trump, and he didn’t endorse #NeverTrump. In fact, Cruz’s position made me rethink my own #neverTrump commitments, but I’ll get to that in due time. For now, let’s look at why Cruz’s position is actually the most principled.
I think the clarifying comments that Cruz made at his meeting with the Texas delegation demonstrate the mind behind what he said. First off, let’s admit that for Cruz, it was personal. Donald Trump attacked Cruz (“lyin’ Ted”), his wife (posting a picture of her and insinuating she was ugly, and threatening to spill the beans on her), and his father (if you don’t know, you’ve been living in a cave). Therefore, Cruz admits that he would have a very hard time endorsing someone who went there and who has still not apologized.
Others have said this is politics, and in politics you sometimes have to just take one for the team, and that means that Cruz should have swallowed his pride and endorsed Trump, regardless of him insulting his family. As to the question of the pledge, Trump himself shredded that and even said he didn’t want Cruz’s support and wasn’t asking for it. Cruz had no moral commitment to support Trump based on the pledge. There are multiple reasons to give on that point, but if you think Cruz had some moral obligation because of the pledge, then you have a short memory or are very Johnny-come-lately to this party.
Beyond the pledge though is the fact that politics is personal. If you say that Cruz should just support Trump despite Trump’s behavior because he needs to bolster the party, the problem becomes a question of what that party represents. If the Republican party is a party that says it is okay to trash someone’s spouse and family, and not have to apologize for that, then is that the party we want to be part of? Part of what we’ve been fighting for is a restoration of morality in our culture. Endorsing someone who throws all morality to the wind, whether they have insulted your family or someone else’s family, means that you are okay with the idea that morality doesn’t matter in culture. The fact is that those in leadership should be held to a higher standard, or else there will be no standard at all. This used to be expressed well by the maxim, “The buck stops here.”
But, beyond this, what Cruz said is that he is doing what Americans all across the nation are doing. He is watching and he is waiting. He told everyone in his speech that we need a leader who sets aside anger for love. Cruz did that. He could have gone out there and trashed Trump, but he didn’t.
Then, Trump’s people responded by taking his graciousness and throwing hate back at him. They completely missed the point and showed that what they want is anger. They claim that they want someone who stands up to power, who says what he really thinks, who won’t be pushed around by the establishment. Cruz gave them that last night and they spent all day today trashing him for it. They are hypocrites who are willing to bear any inconsistency so long as it is in the name of Trump. They like Trump because they want to experience anger, not strength and resoluteness.
This brings me to the point: Cruz took the most principled position. Cruz has effectively said that he is putting the ball in Donald’s court. It is Donald Trump’s responsibility to win the votes of the people. Cruz didn’t denigrate him and he didn’t say that Trump could do that, but he laid out an argument for the kind of candidate that he believes is essential to do that. It is up to Trump to be that candidate.
If Trump shows that he will take the Constitution seriously, then he will be taking a step in the right direction. If Trump shows that he can set aside anger in situations where it is easy to react emotionally (which we need to heal the racial turmoil that has been stirred up these last eight years) then perhaps he would be a man worth supporting. If Trump shows that he really can be a man of principle, that he can stand up for the values that made America great, then perhaps he really could be the candidate to make America great again.
Consider the alternative to this position. If you say, “I’m going to vote for Trump in November, because we must stop Hillary!” then what happens if Trump actually takes positions that are even worse than Hillary? From a political perspective, any given candidate must always know that our support is contingent upon character, ideals, plans, values–those things that actually make us who we are. Cruz took that position last night and effectively said he will vote for the person who wins his vote, the person who holds his values (or the closest to them) when it is time to vote.
That is the most principled position any of us can take, because it is what we should all aspire for in our political behavior. If Trump is the candidate closes to your values, then you should vote Trump, and if Hillary is that candidate, then vote Hillary. The reality is that RedState used to be “Republican in the general” because Republicans stood inline with Conservative ideology. But the party has moved away from that this year, telling conservatives that they don’t want us, and so RedState has adjusted in response to this.
Demanding an endorsement from Cruz is unprincipled. You’re saying that you want him to tell you that he will, unconditionally support Donald Trump, but the problem is that would only mean that Cruz has no morals. Unconditional support is the realm of the morally bankrupt. People with morals always have conditions on our support, because we’re always basing our support on the idea that you are better than what we are against. It is up to Donald Trump to show that he really is a better candidate than Hillary.
(I’m still #NeverTrump because I do not, realistically, see him as capable of being better than Hillary. He may or may not be worse, but he isn’t better, and I don’t see any way, between now and November, he could be. Unless there is a divine intervention.)