In a famous quote alternately attributed to both Winston Churchill and John Maynard Keynes, the respondent tells a critic, “When the facts change, I change my mind, what do you do?” While the origin of the quote is somewhat shrouded in mystery, the actual truth it carries is not.
When posed with questions of honor, the choices made by individuals say much about them. A quick search of the news, over any specified time period, reveals a plethora of people and organizations that withdrew support from those they previously pledge to back. Sometimes it is for purely political expediency, others due to ethics or other issues coming to light. In the first, the broken promise is a sign of weakness and a general lack of moral backbone, in the second it is just the opposite.
When Trump publicly withdrew his pledge to support the eventual nominee back in March, he did so on the grounds he thought he was treated unfairly. This despite the fact he had far more delegates racked up then votes. When Cruz first said he would have a hard time supporting Trump, it was after he had slammed his wife in a completely uncalled for personal attack. This is not just apples and oranges, they are in totally different universes. Nonetheless, even as Trump turned his back on the pledge he made, (and thus released others from their pledges to him) Cruz was still not definitive in his refusal to endorse Trump at that time. Of course the attacks continued, and Donald even leveled wild accusations against Cruz’s dad. At the same time, he continued to show he has as much respect for constitutional limits on power as Barack Obama.
The truth is, all people must draw lines they are not willing to cross, no matter the cost. The strength of those lines relate directly to an individual’s character. During the last election, many who made declarations of loyalty to various ideas betrayed the same for the expediency of the moment. Sarah Palin is probably the most notable, as she made the most drastic change. Turning her back on constitutional limits on power, states rights, her opposition to crony capitalism and even her husband, she entwined herself with Trump. Her motivation seemed to be taking a dip in the DC swamp she herself often maligned. Others like Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, and Senator Jeff Sessions also sought to advance their careers on Trumps coat tails, with each in turn, embarrassing themselves by turning their backs on previously held positions.
Given the political wife swapping going on at the convention, it must of seemed strange to have someone stand by their convictions and say what he believed. Ted Cruz was eviscerated for daring to stand on the GOP convention stage and not endorse Trump. A promise made before the viscous and baseless attacks on Cruz’s wife and Father, and Trump’s reneging on his pledge. It was also before many of Trump’s calls for extra-constitutional measures. Given this, Cruz had a choice; betray his family and all he believed in to fulfill a promise to a man who had already vowed to break his, or take a stand on principle. He choose the later.
For the critics of this decision, of which there are many, the question is what is their line in the sand. Would they allow their daughter to sleep over at a friends house, after finding it was used to deal drugs? Maybe they would pay a pledge to a charity even after they were found to embezzling the money? Is there any change in circumstances, in their minds, that ever justifies breaking one’s word to a man who vowed to break his? Being honorable is does not mean one must play the fool. It is not just about honoring one’s word but one’s principles as well. When in conflict, the second must win out.
Truth be told, it seems that Cruz’s critics are mostly upset that he had the guts to do something they could or would not do, stick by what he believed in. For the record, the same could be said of another former presidential contender who, when confronted with a similar choice, took the same route. After loosing a hard fought battle against those with more ambition than principles, he also failed to endorse the nominee. For those who think Ted Cruz’s career is now over, let them be reminded that the man in question was Ronald Reagan.
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