Did Ted Cruz Cross The Thin Line Between Opportunism And Populism?
On 23 September 2016, US Senator Ted Cruz, one of the most ferocious republican opponents and runner-up of Donald Trump during the Republican primary, announced that he was eventually endorsing him because, a year earlier he had “pledged to endorse the Republican nominee, and I am honouring that commitment.”
Cruz’s late pledge came despite having withheld his endorsement in front of a very infuriated and raging crowd at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July 2016 and having told them: “We’re not fighting for one particular candidate or one particular campaign. We deserve leaders who stand for principle, unite us all behind shared values, cast aside anger for love. That is the standard we should expect, from everybody.”
In the space of just two months, those beautiful principles, values and love he was talking about in Cleveland had simply vanished. What could have made Senator Cruz suddenly change his mind?
Was Ted Cruz some kind of blind and useless politician who couldn’t fully appreciate the risks Donald Trump would represent to the United States and to the whole world if elected? Very unlikely. Trump and Cruz exchanged some harsh words, even insults, during the Republican primary and live in the debates. Trump called Cruz a Canadian who couldn’t be president of the United States, insulted his wife on Twitter and even said his father was somehow involved in the assassination of JFK. Cruz had far more reasons not to endorse Trump than to endorse him.
What if Ted Cruz was in fact politically tied at the time of endorsement? In order to get the party to support him and get elected again in future elections, Ted Cruz may have had to give in to the crowds of the RNC who passionately wanted Trump as their nominee – not him, and so, give up on his great principles, swallow his pride and accept that Trump had made a fool of him, accept the humiliations, the insults, the mockeries, the public shaming of his wife and his father, and simply acknowledge Trump’s powerful hand on the Republican party. The survival of one’s political career sometimes comes at that cost.
Finally, what if Ted Cruz was as a populist as Trump and already thinking about the next elections? By endorsing him, Cruz had put himself in a win-win situation: If Trump was to win the presidency, he wanted to be able to say to the electorate: “Look at me, I kept my promise and helped Trump win!” If on the other hand, Trump was to lose, he wanted to be able to say to the same electorate: “Look at me, I kept my promise, although Trump was not my choice!”
Did it matter whether Ted Cruz endorsement had...
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(Photograph © Americanspirit | Dreamstime.com - US Senator Ted Cruz Campaigns in Las Vegas before Republican Nevada Caucus)