All my life I have heard conservatives and conservative pundits cry out for a statesman not a politician, for a man (or woman) that would stand for principle not party. Yet last Wednesday night, when Ted Cruz embodied exactly that type of leadership, many conservative pundits and fellow Republican politicians were apoplectic. Of course we all expected Cruz to be vilified by Democrats and the main stream media no matter what he had said in his speech. But it was beyond disappointing to hear such a negative reaction from fellow conservatives. Even media figures and politicians who had been very supportive of Cruz throughout the primaries joined in the piling on.
I could understand it a little better if these conservative critics simply thought Cruz made a tactical error politically, but they went further than that to question Cruz’s motives. I am stunned by how many consistently label Cruz as only self-serving; as though he couldn’t possibly be genuinely trying to do what he thought was right. As with his filibuster on Obamacare, where Cruz is blamed for single handedly shutting down the Government, (last I checked Harry Reid had the capability to avoid a shut-down had they not been so inflexible themselves) it seems never to occur to conservative talking heads that Cruz might actually have been trying to do what he had promised his constituents he would do if elected. Also last week, as was done following the filibuster, the term “stunt” was thrown around quite often on Thursday when evaluating Cruz’s speech.
Is it possible that conservatives have gone so long without truly principled leadership that many didn’t recognize it when they saw it? Isn’t it more of a condemnation on the current jaded state of conservative punditry than it is on Ted Cruz that so few saw his stand as courageous? We talk about the founders and founding principles constantly. So what do the so called “experts” suppose a George Washington or a John Adams would have done in a similar situation? Pundits are free to disagree with Cruz’s conclusions but Cruz genuinely believes that Trump will be harmful both to the country and to the party, a position most of Cruz’s critics held until eight weeks ago. Had Washington or Adams believed the same would they have endorsed for the so called “greater good”.
Conservatism cried out for decades for a selfless leader who was willing to stand against the tide and articulate conservatism. Then when that leader showed up and did exactly that, we discovered that conservatism has been so compromised, so watered down, that three fourths of our own movement didn’t recognize true leadership when they saw it.
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