Ted Cruz’s speech at the Republican National Convention included everything that is considered essential to conservatives: freedom, the Constitution, the right to bear arms, a negative review of the performance from President Obama, and an intense distaste for Hillary Clinton. The only thing it was missing was a Trump endorsement. What did Cruz say? “…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.” Ted Cruz left the stage with boos after his speech and many conservatives and top GOP officials considered it damaging to the Republican Party.
By not endorsing Trump, Cruz played a part in splitting the GOP. The next day after Cruz’s speech, he met with the Texas Republican Delegation during which he was asked questions about his pledge to endorse Trump and why he had refused to do so. His most interesting remark dealt with the struggle between party unification and Cruz’s own sense integrity, noting that he didn’t want to “go like a servile puppy dog” and endorse Trump because the Republican Party told him to.
Facing members of his delegation, Cruz went on to explain how politics isn’t “just a team sport” but about “principles, ideas, standing for what we believe in.” Several members of the delegation still remained upset, telling him to “get over it” and reminding him of the importance of keeping the party unified. What is more important, party unification or voting for a candidate that you feel confident about, regardless of their political affiliation?
Politics is supposed to be about principles and morals, or so they say. Trump’s candidacy has split the Republican Party into two, with many top Republicans even refusing to endorse him. Mitt Romney, Barbara Bush, Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham, and several others have publicly denied any endorsement of Trump, many of them citing that his values don’t align with true conservative values. However, there are many Republicans that have endorsed Trump, either for the sake of party unity or because they genuinely believe that he is fit to be president.
Many conservatives and prominent Republicans had previously denounced Trump, only later siding with him once they realized how many states he was winning in the primaries. How can you suddenly support a candidate that you once condemned for his actions and ideas? Those who support him for the sake of the party often use the argument that once Trump is elected, all that matters is that there is a conservative in the White House. This will lead to conservative picks for the Supreme Court and more conservative policies and laws overall. However, that argument still has its flaws. First of all, the Supreme Court, even with all its power, is not one of the major issues that the United States is currently facing. What about immigration? Foreign policy? The economy? Terrorism?
Citing the Supreme Court as a valid reason to vote for Trump is not enough. One must remember that the President does more than elect Supreme Court justices. If you disagree with Trump on his ideas and values, but trust him enough to pick conservative Supreme Court justices, you are disregarding every other issue that the United States faces today.
Where do you draw the line between what is good for the party and what is good for the country as a whole? Voting your party is not wrong. But perhaps there are some instances during which it is wise to reconsider the options available and to determine whether or not voting your party would be voting for the good of the country. Both the Republican and Democratic parties have faced struggles with unification, especially during this election season. The difference between these two parties however is that Republicans are split on one candidate, while Democrats have been split between Sanders and Clinton.
Maybe the real flaw lies within the two-party system. Many have referred to the 2016 election as a choice between the lesser of two evils. The idea of voting third party has been debated among many, some saying that it’s a better alternative while others argue that it is essentially a waste of a vote. At this rate, the driving force behind both Clinton and Trump is the idea that voting for one means that the other will not have the chance to take control of the White House. Jill Stein, a third party candidate for the Green Party, commented on this trend, “So what’s wrong with this system where people are voting against what they fear rather than for what they want.”
There needs to be change in the current electoral system we have today. The fact that these elections have been cut down to voting for a certain candidate out of pure disgust for the other shows that the two party system is flawed and in need of change. Perhaps this is the election that changes things for third party candidates, however, change isn’t going to happen overnight. So what are we to do now? That depends on the individual. This is where it depends on whether or not the party is more important than the values that a certain candidate holds.
Those who lean right are going to be faced with the question of whether they are voting for Trump because he is on the Republican ticket or because they actually support his ideas. Those who lean left are going to also be faced with the question of whether they are voting for Clinton because she is on the Democratic ticket or because they actually support her ideas. Cruz is correct when he says that individuals should vote their conscience. He’s also correct in saying that just because the party told him to endorse doesn’t mean that he should.
Regardless of all the distractions and “politics” that occur in government, at the end of the day Americans have to decide who is going to lead the United States for the next four years. Party unification is important, sure, but issues are important as well. Voting for someone just because they’re in your party doesn’t mean that they’re the best candidate, and making that decision as an individual is what matters.
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