On Friday, Ted Cruz disappointed many passionate and loyal members of the CruzCrew — the grassroots movement supporting him for president — by endorsing Donald Trump. As co-founder of Ted Cruz 45, a grassroots movement on social media supporting him for president, I’ve seen many of my friends express their disillusionment with the Texas senator. Some friends — loyal supporters of Cruz — have announced they’re taking a break from politics, while others have remarked that this is yet another disappointment this election season — one they may not be able to overcome soon, if at all.
I understand these people. I sympathize with them. We all thought and hoped Cruz would be above party politics as usual. He even implied he was by refusing to endorse Trump at the Republican National Convention, simply urging conservatives to vote their conscience. Yet, he has now caved. It’s sad, it truly is.
Other Cruz supporters are currently in denial. They claim that he did not “truly endorse” Trump. To them, I’d like to point out the last paragraph of his Facebook post:
A year ago, I pledged to endorse the Republican nominee, and I am honoring that commitment. And if you don’t want to see a Hillary Clinton presidency, I encourage you to vote for him.
Friends, conservative warriors, we may not like it, but that’s a clear endorsement. There’s no other way to put it. If I tell you “I pledged to give you $20 last month, and I am honoring that commitment today,” you’ll rightfully assume I’m giving you the 20 bucks. What’s more, Cruz actually added a sentence calling on other conservatives to vote for Trump as well. Combined, that’s basically the literal definition of a political endorsement.
So here we are. Ted Cruz — who called Mitch McConnell a liar to his face, who was willing to stand alone to stop ObamaCare and a host of other bad laws — has caved. That’s the truth of the matter, no denial will make it go away.
I believe it to be a major mistake. Cruz probably calculates that it won’t hurt his long-term chances of becoming president (in 2020, after Trump loses) because the grassroots will get over it. I’m not so sure. In fact, I think the opposite is likely to be the case. Cruz built his reputation as a fierce warrior over a period of many years. This one decision has damaged that reputation more than anything else he has ever done. If there’s one rule in politics it’s that you should never act in a way contrary to your public image.
Having said that, although this is a mistake, it doesn’t mean that Cruz no longer deserves conservatives’ support. Let’s face it, in stark contrast to virtually every other Republican senator, Cruz still is one of the few real conservative warriors in the U.S. Senate. Cruz has done more than any of his colleagues (with the possible exception of Senator Mike Lee from Utah) for the conservative movement, and I’m sure he will do much more in the years ahead. That is why, this mistake notwithstanding, he deserves your continued support.
Lastly, let’s not forget one thing: Cruz is a politician, not a saint. Every politician in the entire world will make missteps, mistakes, and decisions you and I disagree with. Sometimes these mistakes are so serious that conservatives have to turn their backs on them. This is not the case with Cruz’s endorsement of Trump, however. He deserves criticism, but he doesn’t deserve his grassroots proclaiming he has irredeemably hurt himself.