Last night, I listened to Ted Cruz’s RNC speech with mounting dread.
I listened to him move through the Republican platform point by point, toward what seemed to be an inevitable endorsement of Donald Trump. Everyone was expecting it, the crowd was on its toes waiting to see the last major Republican contender throw his support behind the monster that somehow managed to become the party’s nominee.
And then something amazing happened. It didn’t happen.
At first, like many in the crowd, I didn’t understand exactly what Senator Cruz was going for when he told me to go vote for my conscience. Was this as setup for a line about how my conscience could only tell me to vote for the best alternative to Hillary?
It dawned on me slowly how deadly serious Cruz was being with that mandate. Go vote for the candidate that will best defend the Constitution. That will protect the liberties of our nation. Go vote for someone you can trust.
Everyone in the room realized the same thing I did, and the irony of their reaction is that it revealed just how aware of it they all were…you can’t trust Donald Trump.
Had Cruz said the same words following the nomination of ANY other candidate, it would have been taken as an implicit and graceful endorsement. But even there in the heart of his political influence, everyone knew that asking them to vote for a candidate of integrity meant asking them not to vote for Donald Trump.
Just like that, the good Senator from Texas revealed the true nature of the new Trump “unity” within the Republican Party. The crowd that only moments before had been applauding diversity and valuing differences began to hiss and boo a man simply for asking them to vote for their consciences.
The machine, of course, began cranking the moment the words were out of Cruz’s mouth. Trump appeared in the room to try and take attention from the challenge Cruz, his attack dog Chris Christie laid into Cruz in his own speech, the whole party apparatus turned to tear down Cruz as a pledge breaker and a source of discord within the party.
This might very well be the end of Ted Cruz’s political career. If Trump wins, Cruz will become even more of a pariah than he already is. He will be the source of attacks from both the Right and the Left. He will have no haven. No place to lay his head.
But one day years from now, when students study this horror show of an election in the future, there may be a section dedicated to the big brass balls of Senator Ted Cruz from Texas. And that just might be worth it.