Over-reaction?

Over-reaction?

The Republican National Convention has wrapped up, with, of course, the nomination of Donald Trump and Mike Pence for President and Vice President of the United States. There was all the usual pageantry and speeches, but this convention also lived up to its hype of being an unconventional convention.

Many of the Republican primary candidates just stayed away from the convention, including the host state’s governor, John Kasich, because they didn’t agree with many of Trump’s policies. But one did show up, and his speech dominated the news cycle. It didn’t have to, but it did mostly because of the reaction (actually, over-reaction) to it.

Mentioned links:

Exposed by Ted Cruz, They Are Angry

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Show transcript

The Republican National Convention has wrapped up, with, of course, the nomination of Donald Trump and Mike Pence for President and Vice President of the United States. There was all the usual pageantry and speeches, but this convention also lived up to its hype of being an unconventional convention.

It started with some states trying to get a rule changed that might release the delegates from their required voting choices earlier than they would otherwise. The #NeverTrump crowd was trying to use this to see if they could get many delegates, who were obliged to vote for Trump even though they personally were against him, to get that chance to vote the way they wanted right from the first ballot. The rules vary from state to state, but generally the delegates must vote as the primary votes went in their state. If, however, no candidate has a majority after the first ballot, delegates are then released to vote the way they want to on the second, or for some states, the third ballot. However, the attempt failed to release them on the first ballot, and so Trump was nominated.

It was a rather disruptive segment of the convention. Some Democrats were getting out the popcorn to watch the Republicans implode, but I think this shows that, more so than on the other side of the aisle, Republicans are more willing to acknowledge that not everyone agrees on everything all the time. This was not a coronation; there was still debate to be had over principles, even though the outcome was pretty much set. Yes, there is a rift in the party over the idea of Donald Trump representing it, both from conservatives and moderates. Yes, hashing this out on live TV for the nation to see can be a bit damaging to the Republican “brand” – it can be a bad PR move – but this is so much more than PR. There are substantial differences between the Trump wing, if you will, and the rest of the party, which is a sizable group. Sweeping these under the rug would actually hurt the party more, in my opinion.

Again, those differences are substantial. For myself, coming from the more conservative side of things, Trump’s stands on social issues stand in stark contrast, and it’s those very issues that continue to come to the forefront in this era of Obama edicts, telling everyone how to run their businesses and schools. I’m not entirely sure about Trump’s foreign policy chops, other than he says he can make deals. There are some real concerns here, more so than with Romney or McCain. Each of them were too moderate for my views, but I felt that voting for them would at least move the needle. With Trump, I’m not sure where the needle would move, or if he’d just break the needle, and that’s why many of the Republican candidates just stayed away from the convention, including the host state’s governor, John Kasich.

But one candidate in particular did show up.

Ted Cruz spoke Wednesday evening, and the big question was if he was going to endorse Trump. Ted was probably, overall, the most conservative of the original field of 17. You could ding him on specific issues or incidents here and there, but generally that’s where he landed.

He, like the other candidates, had pledged to support the party’s candidate if they themselves didn’t get the nod. Well, Trump wasn’t originally inclined to do so, but he ultimately decided to do it. But the rancor between Cruz and Trump really got ratcheted up after that pledge. Actually, it got ratcheted up between Trump and pretty much every other candidate, what with the pejorative nicknames. He called Cruz “Lyin’ Ted”. He insulted his wife.  He accused his father of somehow being a part of the Kennedy assassination.  Ronald Reagan created what he called the 11th Commandment; thou shalt not speak ill of thy fellow Republican. You can’t always do that, but Trump tossed that out the window completely.

And then Ted Cruz was supposed to put aside all the substantial policy differences and personal attacks and endorse Trump.

Here’s what he did say in his convention speech. He congratulated Trump on his victory. He told the party that it must unite. He told the party it must turn out in November. He told the voters to vote their conscience. He told the voters to stand up for those who stand up for the constitution. And for saying all this, he was booed.

Well, not for saying that, exactly. Most of that was received with loud applause. But he didn’t say the “E” word; endorse. And for not saying that, he was booed off the stage, and was excoriated by Trump supporters and donors, and his wife had to be escorted out.

So let me ask this: Which is worse for the Republican party? Is it a speech by someone who’d rather keep his pledge to his values than to the RNC, or is it the booing he got? Which looks worse to independent voters? Is party unity going to get people to vote Republican? I will say this about Trump; good for him for letting Cruz speak even though he knew what he was going to say. But to then upstage Cruz by going to the convention floor before he was done doesn’t speak well of him, and, again, I think that treatment by the nominee is worse for the party than someone extolling Republican party values without using the “E” word.

Could Cruz have stayed away from the convention? Sure, just like so many other nomination contenders. But again I ask, which is worse; calling for turnout in November, or having the nominee be unable to get his rivals to even show up for him? I can hear the ad for the Democrats now; “Bush, McCain, Graham and even host state governor John Kasich wouldn’t show up for Trump. Why should you?”

Yes, he didn’t honor his pledge to the RNC, and he’ll pay the price for it. That’s sometimes what happens when you make the tough call between two commitments you’ve made. But I think the Republican party is going to pay an even steeper price, not for Cruz’s speech, but for their overreaction. A polite clap for the ideas expressed before he left the stage, and this wouldn’t have made nearly the impact on the news cycle. But now, by calling attention to it, Trump and the party turned that speech into a Cruz Missile.

Filed under: Elections