BY: ANDREW SVEDA, CONTRIBUTOR
I was shocked to say the least. It happened on September 23rd, the day when the Republican Party made a compromise that will determine its course for the future. It embraced the volatile, unreasonable (in many scenarios), and socially liberal GOP candidate, Donald J. Trump. The man on the other side of the handshake was the former Presidential candidate, Senator Ted Cruz (R, TX).
“Wait, you mean the Ted Cruz? The man who was once Trump’s rival? Do you mean the man whose family was disgracefully insulted by Trump? The man who stood for conservatism and liberty by not endorsing Trump at the Republican National Convention even though he knew many would hate him for it? Surely you cannot mean that man”. Oh, but yes, it is that very man.
But before I begin, let’s travel back to July.
It was the GOP’s National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, and it was time for Trump’s Primary rivals to speak and bow to the king. I specifically watched that night, waiting to see Ted Cruz, the Senator I supported and wanted to see as our 45th President. I had hope in March, April, and even some of the first days of May (before Cruz dropped out of the race) that the Republicans would have a contested convention on their hands, one that could nominate the Cruz-Fiorina ticket. Unfortunately, it was not so, and I was deeply frustrated with my fellow Republicans for voting for such an inexperienced and polarizing candidate. So, I waited to see what he would do, what he would say.
First came Governor Scott Walker (R, WI), then Senator Marco Rubio (R, FL) (another candidate I had supported before he fell into Trump’s web). “Sellout number one…sellout number two,” I thought as I heard them each proudly endorse Donald Trump.
Then, the background turned into the Constitution and U.S. Flags as the Texas Senator was introduced.
His speech was all that I had hoped it to be. The fight for Freedom, Values, and a vision. Here is an excerpt of that beautiful speech:
“I am here to tell you there is a better vision for our future. A return to freedom…Now, Hillary Clinton believes that government should make virtually every choice in your life. Education, health care, marriage, speech, all dictated out of Washington. But, something powerful is happening, we’ve seen it in both parties, we’ve seen it in the United Kingdom’s unprecedented Brexit vote to leave the European Union. Voters are overwhelmingly rejecting the political establishment, and overwhelmingly rejecting big government. That is a profound victory and it is one earned by each and every one of you. People are fed up with politicians who don’t listen to them. Fed up with a corrupt system that benefits the elites instead of working men and women…And, if we stand together and choose freedom, our future will be brighter. Freedom will bring back jobs and raise wages. Freedom will lift people out of dependency to the dignity of work…[Talks of Republicans’s battle to end slavery, Jim Crow Laws, etc.] Those were fights for freedom, and so is this. Sergeant Michael Smith stood up to protect our freedom. So do the soldiers, and sailors, and airmen, and Marines everyday fighting radical Islamic terrorism. And, so did the family of Alton Sterling who bravely called to end the violence. So did the families of those murdered at the Charleston-Emanuel AME Church who forgave that hateful, bigoted, murder. And, so can we. We deserve leaders who stand for principal, who unite us all behind shared values, who cast aside anger for love. That is the standard we should expect from everybody. And, to those listening, please don’t stay home in November. If you love our country, and love our children as much as you do, stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom, and to be faithful to the Constitution [please note capitalization was added]”
Then, the crowd turned on him. “Trump! Trump! Trump!” was the words on the crowd’s lips as Trump appeared in the back of the crowd to greet his faithful fans. But I, and many others stood and admired Cruz’s leap of faith to defend his own values from being lost in endorsing Trump.
But he now has reversed his tune by saying he will vote for Trump, and a leader of American Conservatism has sacrificed his very beliefs, something I never imagined he would do, especially after all the ridicule he has faced. He has finally become a “Washington politician” by acting out of what is “best” for his career in the long run (such as getting reelected in 2018 and possibly running for President in 2020) and willing to compromise on his values to get there. His reversal on Trump still bewilders me because it seems exactly not like him one bit. Furthermore, it reminds me of a question that Cruz said Americans would reflect on in the future: “Did we live up to our values we say we believe?”. The answer in July for Cruz was “Yes”, but now, it is “No”. Ronald Reagan was able to still have enormous support and his uncompromised ideas during his next two Presidential campaigns even though he did not endorse Ford in 1976 during the Republican National Convention.
I still cannot comprehend Cruz’s approval of Donald Trump considering Trump’s hurtful attacks. He called Cruz “Lyin’ Ted”, made fun of his wife, and claims that his father was involved in John F. Kennedy’s assassination. How could he support a candidate that verbally assaulted his own loved ones? I know he signed a contract that said he would support the nominee, but if they insult your family, the agreement becomes illegitimate.
But no matter how you slice it, Cruz’s support for Trump will define the GOP’s future. It has decided to embrace Trumpism and leave Conservatism in the wilderness for the next years to come. They have decided to be faithful to their party and not their ideals first.
However, there is still hope. The Republican Party is not condemned to lose Conservatism forever. They will find it again in time after they realize the failure of Trumpism, which will not end immediately even if Trump loses the election. I am disappointed with the GOP’s present course and where it is headed (if the status quo remains unchanged), but I truly hope that it shall turn its course.
America still has a “rendezvous with destiny”, and we must meet it before it is too late. The Republican Party must find Conservatism again. America depends on it.