- Photo by Rebecca Addison
- Ted Cruz
First, Cruz took the stage at the RNC in Cleveland and refused to endorse Donald Trump, a man who not only attacked Cruz personally during the election but unmercifully attacked Cruz’s family, including his wife and father. Cruz was booed by RNC delegates and Trump walked onstage to greet Cruz. Trump would later claim he knew about Cruz’s non-endorsement two weeks ago, but his face was that of a man who had been blindsided, as if he were a contestant fired from his own reality show.
Cruz told the world to “vote your conscience,” and in that moment proved that GOP unity isn’t all we’ve been told it is. He also showed Donald Trump that there are consequences for your actions, although that’s a lesson that I’m not sure will stick.
The second result? In making that speech, Cruz committed political suicide. He upstaged the party in what was supposed to be its finest hour. Why is that a great result? Had it not been for Trump, Cruz would have been the likely nominee. And while Donald Trump is a train wreck into a dumpster fire, Cruz is no friend of progressive thinking. He’s bad on women’s health issues, gun control, immigration, LGBT issues, the environment and just about everything else that Trump and the rest of the GOP are bad on.
That said, however, I have great respect for what Cruz did. It’s rare to find someone in American politics willing to take a stand against his own party because it’s the right thing to do. Bernie Sanders tried to do it, and his attempt to overcome a well-funded, ethically suspect Hillary Clinton was beaten back by Clinton. Moreover, we now know, thanks to Wikileaks, that the Democratic National Committee was actively plotting against him, because, I can only assume, it felt challenged by Sanders’ desire to take this country down a different path: a path to an America where everyone would get the chance to live on more equal footing. But that was never to be. The party wanted Clinton and it got her.
Given the two choices, I will vote for Clinton over Trump because she is by far the better candidate. There’s nothing politically courageous about that, but Trump is a disaster. I really see it as a vote for the survival of this country. Civil and individual rights in this country will take a beating under Trump. The more politically courageous move would be to seek out a third-party candidate, like Jill Stein of the Green Party. She’s offering herself as the Bernie Sanders substitute. Her views on a lot of issues line up with the most progressive of progressives. But in this two-party system, Stein won’t win. When I was younger, I believed candidates like her could win. (Yes, I once supported Ralph Nader.) But the fact is she won’t, and, yes, I’m aware that people like me are exactly the reason that she and other third-party candidates will never be able to crack the system.
That’s why when we see a display like the one we got from Ted Cruz last week in Cleveland, we need to take note of it and be thankful for it. He stood up in front of his party with a chance to be a “hero” and endorse Trump. He had a chance to swallow his pride and fall spinelessly in line just like Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan did. Ryan never looked happy about it, but he endorsed Trump anyway.
That’s what makes what Cruz did worth congratulating. I still think he’s a horrible politician, a horrible policy-maker and on the wrong side of history on just about every important issue facing this country. But he was right in standing up to the bully Donald Trump, and regardless of what side of the aisle you stand on, you have to respect that.
Editor's Note: This story has been corrected to properly indicate Trump's location during Cruz's speech.