If you paid attention to the news in any amount whatsoever during the Republican national convention, you are probably aware that on the third night (July 20), Ted Cruz gave a speech where not only did he decline to formally endorse Donald Trump, but implicitly told voters not to vote for him if it violated their conscience.
Not surprisingly, this speech prompted much outrage from the party.
He was booed offstage.
Former allies such as Sarah Palin said that his career was over.
Rick Perry and Dan Patrick (the lieutenant governor of Texas) have been mentioned as possible primary opponents against Cruz when he runs for re-election in the Senate in 2018.
Donald Trump is reportedly so embittered that not only does he not want Cruz’s endorsement should he change his mind, and has talked about funding SuperPACs against him and John Kasich, who also refused to endorse, in future elections they run in.
Ted Cruz himself has since explained his reasoning behind his decision to not endorse Trump, saying that he is “not in the habit of supporting someone who attacks my wife and attacks my father.”
That, in his opinion, invalidated the pledge that all the candidates signed to support the eventual nominee back in September.
Or did it?
I am a Republican who supported Ted Cruz for the nomination prior to him dropping out on May 3.
As I saw many of my fellow Cruz supporters turn into former supporters over his decision not to endorse, I struggled to figure out whether I should do the same.
I sympathized with the content of his speech (so much, that the Trump-sponsored vicious reaction to his statements, which included emphasis on the importance of preserving the Constitution and the idea that voters must vote according to what they believe is best for our freedoms, prompted me to decide to vote third party even though I’m a registered Republican), but I wondered whether he should be judged for apparently failing to keep his word.
I eventually decided that he should not be judged regarding the so-called “pledge.” Why? Because the pledge was invalidated into non-existence in deed. Not by Cruz, but by Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican Party.
As I thought about how to respond, I remembered an event that took place on March 29, 2015, when Donald Trump also renounced the pledge at the CNN Town Hall event that evening.
According to Time, Trump’s decision to renounce the pledge violated the terms that would have made him eligible to be on the ballots in states that required a loyalty pledge.
This could have caused him to forfeit his delegates in such states that had already voted at the time, such as South Carolina.
That didn’t happen, and the question is, why?
Why didn’t Reince Priebus follow through with his own rules, especially considering that as a leader of the GOP establishment, Trump’s downfall perhaps would have benefited him?
I can’t say for sure, but I would not rule out the idea Priebus’ decision not to penalize Trump was related to his belief that Trump can make deals.
After all, he and Trump had no problem making deals (abeit, indirectly via a coalition of Trump supporters and establishment figures in the Republican National Committee) that threw out proposed amendments to the convention rules that would have limited the power of the party chair, and redistributed it in the hands of lower-ranking members who could have affected the outcome of the development of the party platform, if not the convention itself.
Regardless of Priebus’ motivations, his actions do not reflect kindly on the reputation of the party, which, based on them, has been attacking Cruz based on a false premise.
A pledge that is not enforced is not a pledge. It is a joke.
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Cover Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)