So Ted Cruz has outlined his reasons for reversing course and endorsing Donald Trump. The first reason, he said, was that he had pledged to support the nominee and that he was going to do so. A little late, but he is doing so. We may now take a moment here to wait for those who condemned him for breaking his pledge to run around and push the other direction, condemning him for abandoning his principles. But their inconsistency doesn’t wash away the inconsistency of Cruz.
His second reason was to outline his total opposition to Hillary. He listed six issues under this head. His six points were: 1. The Supreme Court 2. Obamacare 3. Energy 4. Immigration 5. National security and 6. Internet freedom. Hillary would be a 100% lead-pipe-cinch-disaster on all six of them, and the chances are better than even, Cruz argued, that we could get some good results from Trump on some or all of these issues. I agree with these odds, incidentally, and so more about this in a little bit.
Now this may be a shrewd move on the part of Ted Cruz, and he may pick up a lot of support for having done it. But I still think it was a bad move, and he has lost my admiration and support. Back in July I said this: “If he [Cruz] had endorsed Trump, then my support for Cruz would have gone the way of the woolly mammoth.” He has now done so, and so, as promised, my support has now gone lumbering off. I was planning on writing in Cruz for Debacle 2016, but now I shall have to seek a different rusty lance to tilt at my windmills with.
But while I am disappointed, I am not outraged. Politicians will always let you down, and that is what has now happened. Take it philosophically, champ. The reason it was a bad move is that Cruz had two basic things going for him—his intelligence and his commitment to principled integrity. This move has badly damaged confidence in the latter. Cruz is not exactly a fiery ball of charisma—that is not where his authority came from. Where it did come from is now leaking badly, and does not seem to me to be seaworthy.
That said, allow me a few comments on why it may be shrewd, and then come back around to why I wish he hadn’t done it. Conservative distaste for the Clintons goes back decades, and it has been ripening like some exotic Basque cheese that somebody dropped behind the stove last month. Conservative distaste for Trump is a very recent phenomenon. They object to him, and are embarrassed by him, but we have now gotten to the point in the campaign where many, many conservatives are trying to visualize Hillary Clinton as the POTUS, and their gorge rises every time they think of it. Hostility to the Clinton machine, particularly the Hillary part of it, goes down into their ancestral memories. So they look wistfully over at Trump, wishing that somebody would provide them with the cover they need to be able to fill in that little oval dot in the polling booth. I need not tell you that the oval dot looks like a clown nose.
Anyhow, there are many who increasingly feel that they need some sort of legit excuse to vote for Trump, and Cruz has now helped to supply it. Cruz will lose some folks, like me, but I think the mobilization angst levels against Hillary are approaching DEFCON 1.
And at the same time, this endorsement may also reflect the kind of knowledge that an insider like Cruz might have—e.g. internal polling showing Trump winning decidedly, inside information on Hillary’s actual medical condition, or a back room deal offering Cruz himself a spot on the Supreme Court. Whether such inside information is accurate or not, it may be thought to be accurate by Cruz, and he consequently may believe that Clinton is going to lose big to Donald J. Trump. I myself have been trying to figure out a way for her to lose to that particular gentleman without him becoming the president as a result. If we could do it that way, that would be especially fine. But that is not how works.
Now Cruz may not be right about Trump’s chances, and he may not be right about what Trump would do (or might do) if elected. But let us suppose he is.
Because this is the actual test for those who are #NeverTrump. Let us assume that Cruz is right about all six of his reasons. Say that Trump is elected and Cruz’s prescient reasons run the table. We get sound conservative jurists on the Supreme Court, Obamacare is repealed, domestic energy resources are intelligently exploited, the immigration disaster is mitigated, national security is strengthened, and we successfully prevent the Internet from being taken over by free speech specialists from Iran, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, and Oberlin College. If Cruz bet correctly, and he won the bet, would that retroactively justify a yes vote for Trump now?
In other words, how would I, having failed to vote in a Trumpian fashion, feel? Would I feel like a Trump chump? Or would I, having been refuted by the glorious arrival of this mini-eschaton, stand by my no vote?
I would stand by it, and here is why. Lest I be mistaken for a churl, if all these things outlined above actually happened, I would be extraordinarily grateful. I am not describing here the antics of a sore loser. I would be especially relieved at the mercies of God, which are new every morning. I would not fail to rejoice when good things happened.
What I would fail to do is attribute these mercies to compromised and/or confused voting. I would attribute the mercies of God to the mercy of God. I would not say that God had honored our vote, but had rather answered our prayers.
When I vote, I am casting a vote for a man. I am not attempting a bank shot involving 158 billiard balls. If these good things happen, I will thank the good Lord for His bank shot. Duties are ours, and the consequences are God’s.
My understanding of voting is that the “character matters” argument matters. We do not live in a time when abandonment of the “character matters” argument is in any way safe. Cast your eye over the next five presidential elections, and try to visualize the dank possibilities. Do you want every attempt you make to raise issues of character in the future to be countered with the question—“Did you vote for Trump?”
“Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens” (Ex. 18:21).
We are to look for an able man who fears God, who is a man of truth, and who hates covetousness. Hold these rules of Mosaic baseball up against Trump, and it is, quite simply, strike three.
None of this is a secret. We can see Trump’s character from his “magnanimous” response to this endorsement of Cruz.
“I am greatly honored by the endorsement of Senator Cruz. We have fought the battle and he was a tough and brilliant opponent. I look forward to working with him for many years to come in order to make America great again.”
This would be a fine and gracious thing to say if the tough battle had consisted of blows that were by and large above the belt. But they weren’t. It wasn’t a tough battle, but an extraordinarily dirty and dishonest one, as delivered by an erratic, energetic, disheveled, and very lost man. And so when Cruz counters this by saying that he has “forgiven” Trump for the personal attacks, he is revealing that he doesn’t know how forgiveness works. Trump hasn’t sought forgiveness, which is why he doesn’t have it.