For objective viewers, it was the most rousing speech of the Republican National Convention (RNC). Ted Cruz held the stage for over twenty minutes, enunciating his vision of “Freedom” for Conservative America. The hall resounded with cheers, Texans waved their white hats, a crescendo of hallelujah animated the delegates. It was political theatre at its highest pitch. And then the apex arrived – the moment when the Republican senator from Texas, the defeated opponent of Donald J. Trump – would mouth his endorsement. Cruz let the crowd wait a few seconds. A grim determination covered his face as he said the unthinkable: “Vote your conscience.”
Vote your conscience – the penultimate act of a citizen of a free society – in a millisecond became the symbol of gross betrayal. The once-exuberant delegates flashed their hate yet again at the Quicken Loans Convention Center. Boos. Thumbs-down gestures. A hail of hate like armor-piercing bullets. Cruz gave a sickly smile, awarded sarcastic kudos to the New York delegation, finished with his God Blesses and left the stage as the backdrop went black.
The GOP nominee, who’d entered the auditorium moments before, emerged in a halo of spotlight. But not before the cameras caught he and his family at the moment the Vote Your Conscience clause flew out of his rival’s mouth like a solid right hook. Make that an undercut. Make that a Dana White style take-down.
To those listening, please don’t stay home in November. If you love our country, stand and speak and vote your conscience #RNCinCLE
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) July 21, 2016
I do not like Ted Cruz or his policies. But last night, I gave the guy kudos. Little Marco caved. Fat Boy Chris Christie caved. The Speaker of the House caved. Each and all throwing their lot with insanity. But Rafael Cruz just said “No.”
Sure, his un-endorsement was political maneuvering. Yes, he’s got his eye on 2020. But so does Marco Rubio. And likely, a whole bunch of others who’re aping their commitment to Trump. Yes, Cruz took The Pledge. Yes, he’s treated like a pariah by party elite on both sides of the aisle – even before he dared to un-endorse. And yes, scores of Republicans now spit on him, including the delegates who were cheering him on for twenty minutes last night.
But Cruz did something that can only be called remarkable. He stole the show. His 23 minutes onstage brought down the house, and probably the Senate and the Presidency as well.
Cruz let the nation see that the GOP is a crock pot of emotionally driven clones whose love can become hate in a digital instant.
Cruz demonstrated that insults to person and family by the “Family Values” candidate are not just unacceptable but unforgivable.
But mostly, Cruz gave an inside look at the fragile thing called the Republican Party. When we hear that hellish chorus of invective directed his way, we are witnessing an entity held together by veins of vitriol. We are seeing its crumbling infrastructure. There is no center, no core, no unifying emblem other than hate. All other is flim-flam and flashpoints.
“No big deal,” tweeted Donald J. Trump, picking himself up and brushing away the pain.
Cruz delivered a right hook and scored a TKO. Just a few rounds remain in this fight. The Donald and his party of sycophants are in the struggle of their political life. All bets are off.