Even before the Republican and Democratic National Conventions began, it was speculated in every way possible whether or not Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders would pledge their support to their party?s presumptive presidential nominees.
From the beginning, Sanders has outspokenly stated his socialist beliefs and progressive political views ? a risky move to many. On the flip side of the coin, you have Cruz. A right-wing senator, Cruz has adamantly clung to his stance as a conservative constitutionalist ? also a risky move in the eyes of many.
A few days ahead of the Democratic National Convention, Sanders spoke to a crowd of supporters in Philadelphia. During his remarks, Sanders publicly stated his support for Clinton and more broadly, the Democratic Party.
?We have got to defeat Donald Trump,? said Sanders. ?And we have got to elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine. Brothers and sisters, this is the real world that we live in??
And while Sanders? speech started off with cheers and applause, the crowd quickly turned sour at Sanders? urge to vote for and support Clinton. Audible booing and disgruntled chanting ensued, and things didn?t get much better for Sanders for the remainder of his speech. In fact, since that particular rally in Philadelphia, Sanders has been greeted with booing at the mention of his newfound endorsement of Clinton several times during public addresses.
Now, looking at Cruz?s recent Republican National Convention (RNC) address, the jury was still very much out as to whether or not Cruz would jump on the ?Trump train?. In fact, political commentators were still speculating hours prior to Cruz?s speech.
For the first 19 or so minutes of Cruz?s 25 minute-long address, it seemed the in-house crowd was tracking right alongside Cruz. It was around the 19-minute mark, however, when it became clear that Cruz did not intend to make an endorsement of Trump that the mood shifted.
??To those listening, please don?t stay home in November. If you love our country, and love your children as much as I know you do, 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.?
If you were watching the speech on PBS like I was, you could see the camera zoom out to show people pumping Trump signs into the air and turning down their thumbs at Cruz. The senator was even silenced for a time by crowds booing and chanting, ?Endorse Trump? over and over again.
Now, it?s painful for me to watch either of these speeches. It?s never comfortable to watch someone be so blatantly and passionately denounced while they are trying to control their reactions during a live, televised public address. But, as I thought back to both of these instances later, something struck me.
First, it?s important to note that both Clinton and Sanders, and Trump and Cruz weren?t exactly hugging it out and fist bumping each other through the entire presidential race. In a June article of the Wall Street Journal, while Sanders was still campaigning for president, he said would likely vote for Hillary if it came to that, but would not endorse her. In a later interview on CBS, Sanders stated he would not endorse Clinton, ?Because I have not heard her say the things that I think need to be said.? In that same interview, Sanders stated he wanted Clinton to back tuition-free public college despite the fact that she wants debt-free college; raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, while she supports $12 an hour; and support a single-payer healthcare system that she says she doesn?t believe will work.
In the Cruz/Trump court, you had Cruz criticizing Trump?s proposed ban on Muslims, and then there was Trump?s attacks of Cruz?s wife and father that were widely publicized - among other things. After his RNC speech, Cruz stated to reporters that he would ?not make a habit? of supporting someone who attacks his family, but would try to ?make the best judgement? he could when voting in November. And that?s where I come back to these two?s recent speeches.
In regards to Sanders, I believe the disdain he has received after his endorsement of Clinton is widely to do with principles. For those who heavily supported Sanders, I would guess there were many who felt he had thrown away his beliefs and cast aside what he fought for all because ?we have got to defeat Donald Trump? and continue having a liberal president in office ? no matter who that person is. I think there are also many who now question if Sanders ever truly believed in things that he wanted Hillary to get on board with. It?s a fair question, I think.
For Cruz, however, I think many of the boos and disapprovals he has gotten since his refusal to support Donald Trump at this time has mostly to do with his presumed betrayal of the Republican Party, rather than a presumed abandonment of his principles and beliefs. Is Cruz truly loyal to the Republican party? That?s been a question on the minds of many since his address at the RNC, and I think it?s a fair question as well.
Folks, this column is not about whether or not I am a Republican, Democrat, liberal or conservative. Instead, I want to pose a question to you. What is more important? Being a ?Never Trump or Never Hillary? voter? Being an ?I always vote Democrat? or an ?I always vote Republican? American? Or, is it best to be someone that has principals and values that they will stand by, believe in and support ? even if it?s not the easiest or most popular thing to do?
Now, I am not going to tell you what you should believe or how you should vote. And I am not going to tell you which man?s political views I agree with more and why. That?s a whole different column for another time. Nonetheless, both of these men were put in very difficult positions.
The bottom line is this, I truly believe we have all been given the ability to choose what we believe or don?t believe in, listen and respect another?s opinion, humbly admit when we are wrong, and stick to our guns when we know we?re right.
So, where do you want to be when the going gets tough and the cards might not be stacked in your favor? Do you want to be fighting for principals you believe in or fighting for a broad political party? It?s a difficult choice, I know. And the truth is, many of us will have to make that choice in November.
I know where I stand. Do you?