Unifying a political party isn’t as simple as endorsing one candidate over another; it’s accomplished by finding common ground, banding together for a greater purpose, and standing in solidarity for the same values, principles, and beliefs. One former Republican presidential candidate attempted to unify the party at the GOP Convention under a single party vision without giving in to political pressure, but the power of many hindered the progress before the healing of a long, drawn-out primary season could even begin.
“We deserve leaders who stand for principle. Unite us all behind shared values. Cast aside anger for love. That is the standard we should expect, from everybody,” said Sen. Ted Cruz during his speech in Cleveland. “To those listening, please, don’t stay home in November. Stand and speak and vote your conscience. Vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the constitution.”
Those words triggered a backlash from the convention floor. Some delegates booed the senator from Texas, while others chanted, “We want Trump!” Justin Buchler, associate professor in the Department of Political Science at Case Western Reserve University, described the speech as “bloody chaos.”
But if we take a look at Cruz’s message in its entirety, it was an expression of ideas crafted to harmonize the party’s efforts to defeat presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in November by laying out the differences between the “two parties’ visions for the future.” He even packaged the GOP’s platform of a better tomorrow with a simple tag line: “a return to freedom.” Under this banner: the opposition to Obamacare, the fight against political correctness, the protection of Second Amendment rights and religious freedoms, the destruction of radical Islam, and the demand for a wall to keep illegal immigrants from crossing the border. All of which, by the way, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has supported, as well as an overwhelming number of Republicans nationwide.
Yet only a few “touchy” lines from Cruz’s remarks will be remembered for generations to come, even though we — Republicans and the media included — shouldn’t be surprised he didn’t endorse Trump. The two verbally sparred on numerous policy decisions throughout the primary season, and the billionaire even maliciously attacked Cruz’s wife, Heidi. Some may believe Cruz intentionally snubbed Trump at the convention or tried to subtly set himself up for a presidential run in 2020, but another theory, if you recognize the senator from Texas’ exemplary oratory skills, is despite not outright endorsing Trump, he attempted to unify the party by finding common ground in core principles and beliefs — not in individuals themselves.
An avid Trump supporter, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich moved quickly to address Cruz’s remarks. “Now I think you misunderstood one paragraph that Ted Cruz, who is a superb orator, said, and I just want to point it out to you, Ted Cruz said you can vote your conscience for anyone who will uphold the constitution. In this election, there is only one candidate who will uphold the constitution,” he said. Then he paraphrased Cruz’s words by redirecting them to signify an unspoken endorsement of Trump. Whether you believe what Gingrich did protected Cruz or further advanced the Trump brand, one thing is certain: He brought the conversation back to a discussion of differing ideologies between the two major political parties in the country.
In the grand scheme of things, what did Sen. Ted Cruz actually say that was offensive to Republicans? Did he bother some with his remarks on a citizenry voting its conscience? Did he upset delegates with his comments on supporting state, local and federal candidates who defend freedom and uphold the Constitution of the United States of America? What specifically did he say that ignited such a tumultuous uproar that Heidi Cruz needed to be escorted from the convention floor for safety concerns?
As it stands, anti-Clinton anger is what’s bringing Republicans together as a united front, not a billionaire from New York City or any other Republican on that level. That in itself reveals how the Republican Party can form a united front for the presidential election in November. Elevating a single figure to higher ground only deepens the divide between factions in the party.