By Marc Jampole
Though not much into predictions, I’m fairly certain that John Kasich and Ted Cruz will inherit the mantle of leadership of the Republican Party after Donald Trump and the Republican ticket get crushed in November. On the surface, it looks as if there are real differences between them, but their differences revolve around style only. Both will seek to end Obamacare and the legal right of women to have abortions. Both will fight against an increase in the minimum wage and for a decrease in taxes for the wealthy. Both will slow down our response to global warming. Kasich will do it with a smile and Cruz with a churlish grimace.
While a few have condemned John Kasich for not endorsing Trump and not taking part in any part of the GOP National Convention, held in his state’s largest city, most of the news media have applauded his stand as heroic and principled.
But what Ted Cruz did was braver. He went into the lion’s den and spoke truth, at least his truth, which is shared by about 20% of the voters. He stood there and took the verbal abuse hurled at him by the pro-Trump crowd, calmly making his points.
It was his finest moment as a politician and a person, but more striking is that it was his only fine moment in his political career, as his time in the public light has mostly been spent on meaningless political stunts for suspect causes. There was a stunt-like quality, too, about explicitly not endorsing Trump in front of the entire convention on day three of the Trump coronation, very much like his shutdown of the government to protest Obamacare in 2013. But the difference in context made the Cruz-engineered shutdown the self-destructive act of a spoiled toddler and his speech before a hostile audience an act of political bravery that will be rewarded in the future, but only if Trump loses, and especially if he drags down the Senate and the House with him.
Don’t get me wrong. I despise Ted Cruz. From what I can tell, he is the second most despicable politician on the current national scene after Donald Trump, and certainly as despicable as anyone since Nixon. But I see the impact of his political program as no different from that of John Kasich. Nor from those of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio either, for that matter. Economically, they want the same thing. They all want to lower taxes on the wealthy and cut social welfare programs. All want to let in immigrants who help large corporations keep wages down while building a wall. None of these guys has any experience in foreign affairs, so despite the relative bellicosity of Cruz, all four would follow the recommendations of the continuing Republican foreign policy establishment, which is decidedly Neo-con, prone to send troops and unabashedly opposed to any reconciliation with Iran, probably because their foreign policy prescriptions seem to track so well with the best interests of Saudi Arabia.
Notice I haven’t mentioned Paul Ryan. His craven submission to Donald Trump, all the while winking that he doesn’t mean it, has been criticized in the mainstream media for cowardice and willingness to sacrifice principle for the Party. In contrast to Kasich and Cruz, Ryan does seem to be a wimp. Before the cavemen among my readers blame Ryan’s weakness on his intellectualism, keep in mind that that intellectualism is merely his brand, that his program is very short on specifics except for lowering taxes on the wealthy and that he has the barest of academic credentials, especially when compared to the Ted Cruz, who pretends to be a hick but has an ivied, establishment set of credentials. Let’s note that Marco Rubio also buckled under and endorsed Trump in convention speeches.
Ted Cruz is a worm, but on the third night of the Republican National Convention, he was a hero.
We do need to clarify what Cruz meant when he said “Vote your conscience, up and down the ticket.” He did not say “Abstain from voting.” He did not say, “Vote for the Libertarian candidate.” He did not say, “Write in for me.” No, he said “Vote your conscience, up and down the ticket” which at the very least means consider voting for Hillary Clinton.
But let’s look into the conscience—the deepest recesses of the intellect—of people like Cruz, Ryan, Kasich, McConnell, Rubio, Romney, the Bushes and other Republican leaders. Many of the delegates may have been brainwashed by 25 years of lies and innuendos about the Clintons, but these men of government and two-party politics know that Clinton is an ethical person who has never committed a serious crime or done anything that even resembles self-dealing or traitorous while in government. They don’t really believe any of the garbage they say about Hillary.
It is possible, then, to infer into Ted Cruz’s statement “Vote your conscience” the message that you should vote for the most competent, experienced, level-headed and stable of the two major party candidates, Hillary Clinton. I know that Cruz went on to excoriate Clinton and say her election would be a disaster. But when you say, “Vote your conscience, up and down the ticket” what you are really saying is “split the ticket” which is understood by virtually everyone to mean that you should vote for a different Party’s candidate for president than you do for other offices. To most people, that will mean voting for Hillary Clinton.