Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Call for Unity

I have been less than normally interested in the GOP Convention this week in Cleveland. There was drama the first night when the establishment refused a floor vote on the rules—going against law, good sense and rules to do so. But it wasn’t surprising. Just a note about that: it was about rules for the future, not about getting rid of Donald Trump as the nominee. If you didn’t know that, maybe you’ve been lied to. Check out an interview with Senator Mike Lee to get better informed.

I’m assuming there may have been other interesting speeches. But I was only interested in Ted Cruz’s[i]. I had been praying for him, for two things: that he might say something to remind us of the principles of our party and our country, and that he might remain strong in abiding by his principles.

Senator Ted Cruz speaks at the GOP Convention
July 20, 2016   Photo by Behar Anthony/SIPA  AP Photo

I was uncertain that it was wise for him to consent to speak at Donald Trump’s convention. I was concerned that there might be some behind-the-scenes pressure that even Ted Cruz might not have been able to withstand. Reince Priebus and Donald Trump knew he wasn’t going to endorse the man who maligned and threatened his wife and accused his father of conspiring with JFK’s killer. They knew that when they invited him to speak. Maybe they vainly hoped he’d change his mind, but they knew for certain ahead of time, because he provided them his speech for review.

That means Donald Trump is using the lack of endorsement for his purposes. We can see that today. And it reveals the trouble this country is in.

Let’s take a look at what was, and what was not, in that speech.

The main story referred to Michael Smith, one of the officers murdered in Dallas, whose 9-year-old daughter, Caroline, will never be able to hug her daddy again. It was skillfully told, with added emotion, because the Caroline of the story is the same age and has the same name—and if I heard correctly, has a mother by the same name—as Ted Cruz’s daughter. The story had the power to tell us we are in seriously difficult times.

Cruz asks: “What if this right now is our last time? Our last moment to do something for our families, and our country? Did we live up to the values we say we believe? Did we do all we really could?”

Most of the rest of the speech is about principles. Namely, conservative principles enshrined in the Constitution. Principles that are absent from the Democrat party, and heretofore at home in the Republican Party, at least supposedly.

There are things he said that ought not to be controversial:

·         I want to see the principles that our party believes prevail in November. 
·         America is more than just a land mass between two oceans, America is an ideal. A simple, yet powerful ideal. Freedom matters. 
·         Our nation is exceptional because it was built on the five most beautiful and powerful words in the English language, "I want to be free."
·         [following a list of what Obama has done wrong] I am here to tell you there is a better vision for our future. A return to freedom.
·         [following a list of Hillary’s plans, and the freedom she will reduce] Voters are overwhelmingly rejecting the political establishment, and overwhelmingly rejecting big government.
·         We deserve an immigration system that puts America first, and yes, builds a wall to keep America safe.
·         We deserve trade policies that put the interests of American farmers over the interests that are funding the lobbyists.
·         if we stand together and choose freedom, our future will be brighter. Freedom will bring back jobs and raise wages. Freedom will lift people out of dependency to the dignity of work.
·         Our party, the Republican party, was founded to defeat slavery. Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Together we passed the Civil Rights Act, and together we fought to eliminate Jim Crow Laws. That's our collective legacy, although the media will never share it with you. Those were fights for freedom, and so is this.
Most of this should be agreeable to every delegate at the convention. In fact, to anyone within earshot with the exception of the hordes of liberal media lying in wait to find something they could sensationalize.

Cruz details what we can do to fight corruption and make things better—and they are mainly things Trump claims as his ideas: build a wall to keep America safe, stop admitting ISIS terrorists as refugees, America-favoring trade policies, bring back jobs and increase wages.

This next part, also non-controversial call to vote all the way up and down the ticket, is what drew boos:

We deserve leaders who stand for principle, who unite us all behind shared values, who cast aside anger for love. That is the standard we should expect from everybody. And, to those listening, please don't stay home in November. 
If you love our country, and love our children as much as you do, stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom, and to be faithful to the constitution. 
The boos came mainly from the New York delegation, which Cruz acknowledged with grace. News stories report that copies of the speech were handed out especially to the New York delegation, Trump’s home state.

In other words, it was a manufactured drama. Trump added to it by walking out among the crowd a minute before the speech ended.

It could have been otherwise. Look at the words. In practically any other time, in practically any other person’s speech, the words would have implicitly endorsed the candidate and party. Trump’s New York delegates and others yelling along with them are declaring that even they do not believe Trump is a leader who stands for principle, and will do the things we voters deserve.

Photo from here
If they had cheered and made the assumption (or been directed to act as if they assumed) Cruz was referring to their chosen candidate, there would have been no news story. People wouldn’t have noticed that Cruz hadn’t actually endorsed Trump, because Trump would have acted satisfied with what was said and taken it as pro-Trump-ish enough.

Cruz ended with this additional call for unity:

The case we have to make to the American people, the case each person in this room has to make to the American people, is to commit to each of them that we will defend freedom, and be faithful to the Constitution. 
We will unite the party; we will unite the country by standing together for shared values by standing for liberty.
In this alternate-universe year, that is called divisive. Because everybody apparently knows Trump will not defend freedom or be faithful to the Constitution.

But shouldn’t the Trumpkins at lease have pretended that he will?

Instead, Cruz has been excoriated by many people I frequently agree with and admire. That includes radio hosts Dennis Prager and Larry Elder, who spent the day describing the speech as the world’s longest political suicide note.

However, a few of us have seen through the “we have to win” rhetoric, who heard what I did.
Daniel Horowitz, at Conservative Review, takes on the “we have to vote for the Republican” demand:

Taken to its logical conclusion, there is never a time when it’s not worth voting for the Republican, even when they legitimize and validate the Left’s premise.  If Republicans are ok with codifying transgenderism into civil rights, well, one could always suspect the Democrat will be worse and support bestiality.  This is the attitude so many loyal conservatives—even more so than the moderates—have internalized throughout the eras of two Bushes, Dole, McCain, and Romney. Yet, history doesn’t lie, and the Democrat success in moving the ball on every facet of fiscal and social policy since 1988 is nothing short of breathtaking. Rather than utilizing Reagan’s “new day—our sunlit new day—to keep alive the fire so that when we look back at the time of choosing, we can say that we did all that could be done—never less,” all we did was focus on not electing Democrats.
Matt Walsh prefaces his piece with this summary, which so accurately describes my experience:

I’ve been re-reading the transcript of Ted Cruz’s convention speech on Wednesday night and I can’t quite find the controversial part of it.
He congratulates the nominee. He urges everyone to go to the polls and vote for the candidates who will defend the Constitution. He articulates, quite brilliantly, the principles of conservatism. He calls for conservatives to come together. He talks about freedom, liberty, and the preciousness of human life. And for that, he was booed off the stage.
Walsh laments, as I do:

Cruz spoke exclusively about the principles of conservatism. He offered the Republican Party a chance to unite again around those principles. But it was made clear, once and for all, that many Republicans are not interested in uniting around principle. They aren’t interested in the principles at all. The only principle in the new party is Donald Trump. The only positions that should be taken are the ones Donald Trump takes. The only speeches that should be given are ones centered around Donald Trump. This was precisely the fear of the Never Trump camp; that Trump would devour conservatism and leave only himself standing in the gap; that the new conservatism would be Trumpism, and the old conservatism would be anathema. It seems those fears have been realized.
Steve Deace, also at Conservative Review, noted the irony of the Trump response to the speech, and laments:

Then there were the reports of how angry party people and donors were that Cruz dared tell Republicans to vote their values. Stop and think about that for a moment, and allow it to fully sink in. The party establishment can only be offended by a call to vote your conscience if, indeed, they are at least tacitly admitting that to vote for their nominee could violate one's conscience.
My son Political Sphere posted his response on Facebook before I finished writing. We’re so closely agreed (still not having talked together) that I hope he doesn’t think I’m copying him. He adds this understanding:

Those deriding Cruz as classless and going back on his promise because he failed to specifically endorse Trump appear to have a faulty belief that if Cruz would just forgive Trump for the personal attacks against Cruz and his family and publicly endorse Trump by name, then all the “Never Trump” people will suddenly support Trump. They do not seem to understand the only thing this would do is cause those of us who cannot, in good conscience, vote for Trump to lose respect for Cruz. Such a display would not get us to change our mind on Trump, but instead show us that Cruz, too, has sold out to the Washington D.C. Cartel and is no longer willing to fight for our conservative principles even at the expense of being denounced by the Republican establishment.
I’m glad Cruz didn’t break faith with us.

It's another whole post to cover the accusation that Cruz broke his promise. Let’s just note that Trump already reneged on that—it was no deal unless he won, because he would just accuse the RNC of not playing fair. Cruz is right to assume the deal was abrogated when Trump went after his wife and father—and has failed to offer up any kind of apology for those lies/threats. If you’re unclear on the concept of forgiveness (i.e, if you’re thinking Cruz is the unforgiving one), check out this PragerU video, with Dr. Stephen Marmer, on Forgiveness: Trump isn’t entitled to exoneration, or even forbearance; Cruz therefore keeps his integrity with release.

Deace started out thinking it might have been a mistake for Cruz to have committed to make the speech. But after hearing it, he sees it as a great, historic, defining moment. He ends with this:

I work in this business full-time, and I am a committed conservative. A Christian one, no less, which means "daily disappointment" is in my job description. Over the course of my career, and my almost 25 years as a Republican, I have known a lot of Republican politicians—including Trump. But very few of them have I actually been proud to know, or restored even a morsel of my faith in the system.
Ted Cruz is in that select group.
The attacks have been brutal today. Cruz himself might be thinking that giving the speech in the first place was more costly than he’d anticipated. But if the goal is to do whatever we can to bring us back to the Constitution, to freedom, prosperity, and civilization, Cruz must know in his heart he still has his sacred honor.

[i] Transcript here

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