To Not Choose Is to Choose

In the days following Ted Cruz’s speech at the national RNC convention, there’ve been some interesting conversations with friends about what he did. Some have lauded him, some have criticized him.

Regardless of which side you fall down on regarding Cruz’s actions, he diminished himself last Wednesday night. Let me explain. Those lauding him are his die-hard supporters. He already had those people in his corner. Those people represent at best 20-25% of the Republican primary voters. But who Ted Cruz needs, if he really does have any hope to run again for President, are the voters in a Republican primary who where on the fence about him, who had questions about him. Wednesday night removed all doubt in their minds about how they feel about Ted Cruz.

What he did Wednesday night was well done in regards to laying out conservative values. Kudos to Cruz for doing that. What he did Wednesday night was also deeply calculated and deeply inauthentic in light of his actions last fall regarding Donald Trump. As many seem to have fruit fly memories, let me remind you: Cruz came alongside Trump. He praised him, refusing to criticize him. That was a calculated move built on a belief that Donald Trump would implode and Trump’s followers would come to Cruz. That calculation proved wrong. Trump did not implode and, in fact, as Cruz turned his guns on Trump in hopes for a narrower field to allow people a clearer choice regarding Trump v. Cruz, guess what happened? Trump won definitively.

I understand the Cruz supporters and Never Trumpers’ angst about Trump. He’s not a full-spectrum conservative. But remind me of all of our nominees in the past who have been? I’ll be waiting on that answer for quite some time, because even Ronald Reagan wasn’t. As much as anything, I think that’s telling in regards to how ineffective the conservative elite are: despite billions of dollars over the last few decades, they are a decrepit menagerie of toothless lions and paper tigers playing checkers while the real game is football. Not only have they not won (take a moment and think about a significant conservative victory in the recent past), they’re not even in the game to have a chance to win. The words of the conservative elites have rarely been wed to action — and, as we know, action, not words, are the soul of revolution. So perhaps instead of bloviating about the current circumstances, it would be refreshing for those professional conservatives to look in the mirror and ask themselves very hard questions. Creative destruction, anyone?

For those that find the current game frustrating, who are frustrated with the nominee, who are frustrated with the party, think about the words of G. William Domhoff, written in the 1970s to Communists about working inside the Democrat party: “The party is what people say it is. And the people who say what it is are those that win primaries and show up at conventions.” If conservatives really haven’t put the time in to really doing this, there should be no complaining. Wrong behavior because of the wrong priorities leads to the wrong results. Don’t judge the game. Judge yourselves for being so bad at playing it.

It’s time for many to understand that politics is not the art of perfection; it’s the art of the possible. You’ll never see perfection this side of eternity, so please stop acting like politics is anything else than what it is; sometimes it’s reduced to a binary choice. Love it, hate it, repelled by it, that is reality.

The question I have for people who are blinded by love of Cruz and a hatred of Trump is this (and a question laid out far better by Ace of Spades): are you willing to live with the consequences of Hillary Clinton in the White House? Because what you’re doing is, in fact, of benefit to her. Please don’t argue that it’s not. The great Dietrich Bonheoffer put it succinctly: “To not act is to act. To not choose is to choose.” You are making a choice. Should Hillary win, she will appoint 40 somethings to the Supreme Court to dominate it for more than a generation. If she wins, she will undermine the 1st and 2ndAmendments. If she wins, her weakness on foreign policy and national defense could allow ISIS and radical Islam to expand, and we could very well see Nice and Munich-style attacks on American soil because of her weakness. If she wins, and these things happen, your words decrying such things will mean less than nothing to me.

In the art of the possible, you win some, and you lose some. If you want to continue being in the game when you lose, there’s not always the need to offer an olive branch. Sometimes all that’s required is that you offer an olive leaf.