I can’t say I’ve ever believed in, and truly put my trust in a politician before Ted Cruz. [disclaimer about knowing that politicians are not Jesus]
A few months ago I wrote about why I trust Ted Cruz. I’m proud to say I still do, and can add the events of yesterday to the reasons why.
Putting trust in a political figure is always a tenuous relationship at best and in some ways is always a dangerous proposition, but let’s back up a few years...
I’ve never been too active in politics. It has always interested me but nothing I would wanted to be involved in deeply. The first election I was able to vote in was in 1996, and I can’t remember if I voted. If I did, I certainly voted for Bob Dole but only because he was on “my team,” that is, I was a Christian so I am compelled to vote Republican.
I followed the 2000 election more closely as I was in college and truly believed we needed to bring dignity back to the white house. September 11th changed the world for everyone and in 2004 I was the most involved I had ever been. I proudly put a Bush sign in my yard and went to exactly one rally here in Iowa because I wanted to keep America safe.
Over the next few years the constant division and the image that everyone in Washington was morphing into the same corrupt entity disenfranchised me and I really didn’t want anything to do with the political system. I didn’t follow it and didn’t really care. Nothing they ever did seemed to affect my life anyway. Plus as a leader in a brand new church in a new community I wanted to be careful about speaking any public opinions I might have about the system.
In 2005 I had the wonderful privilege to help plant Lakeside Fellowship, a church in Polk City, IA. I was a leader in the church and while not a pastor in title, I shepherded our student ministry. Because of that role I concluded in the 2008 and 2012 elections I would lose opportunities to share the gospel with my neighbors because of relationships being prematurely shut because of political views.
In this political cycle I struggled with the same question. Now as a “real” pastor what was the right thing to do? Part of the conflict is having to put your name on line for someone who can and often does fail publicly and spectacularly which then damages you and the message you're trying to convey.
However my thinking changed when I started to watch and read about Ted Cruz. Here I saw a politician not just stand up for his principles but was able to do it in a way that if given the opportunity and national platform, could win the hearts and minds of regular people.
The problem is that we have trotted out the same lukewarm candidate every four years and have spoken the same tired rhetoric. If want to have any chance at impacting the culture with conservative values and principles we need to remind people of why America is unique in the history of the world and win the hearts and minds of the people. I firmly believe the majority of people in the country can be reached. Sadly there are some that can’t. Those people aren’t willing to have a conversation or debate about what might be best. All they care about is power. When you challenge the established power structure (Washington and the Media) and try to change their hearts and minds, no matter how you do it, nice or not nice, you’re labeled an outsider. You’re blacklisted. You’re a traitor if you don’t fall in line. And as the rhetoric goes, you’re divisive. You have no friends. You can’t work with anyone, and on, and on it goes.
One of the most beautiful things about America is that everyone is allowed to have an opinion, and in the past we would engage in debate (spirited and heated sometimes) but we would listen and debate ideas respectfully. Ted Cruz is one of the only politicians I’ve seen actually try and do this with American people who disagree with him.
A few examples stood out to me.
In August as the 2016 primary season was starting to heat up, Cruz was ambushed by actress Ellen Page at the Iowa State Fair and asked about LGBT rights. Instead of shutting her down and ignoring her or becoming hostile he engaged her in conversation for nearly five minutes.
A month earlier Cruz was invited to speak at an event about the Iran Nuclear Deal. During the event protesters from Code Pink crashed the event and were very disruptive as he was trying to speak. Instead of calling security he invited their leader on stage and proceeded to talk through the issues for nearly a half an hour. That just doesn’t happen–anywhere.
As much I would like to believe it was a stone cold calculated move to shiv Donald Trump at his own convention I really don’t think that is what Cruz intended. Now for sure he knew the silent “non-endorsement” wouldn’t go over well I don’t think he calculated the firestorm that it has become.
I believe Cruz intended to go to the convention to specifically not be divisive but to try and articulate conservative principles and channel Reagan of ‘76. I believe he wanted to reach the hearts and minds of not just conservatives and Republicans but all Americans.
- Its why he mentioned issues that African Americans are passionate about. Its why he included Atheists as a group that deserves their freedoms protected every bit as Christian's and Muslims. Its why he specifically named LGBT people as being equal in the bill of rights.
- Cruz and his team have mentioned the link to 1976 numerous times where Reagan did not endorse Ford but tried to unify the party, and set a vision in the minds of the American people for 1980.
- He specifically congratulated Trump on gaining the nomination.
So I think its nonsense that Cruz went in with intention to get revenge. More likely Trump and the RNC tried to knock him down.
- Trump and the RNC reportedly had his speech 2 days before. At the very least Trump and his team saw it, vetted it and allowed it to continue and the RNC sent it out to all the media. (This was hours before the speech which is years to a campaign)
- The booing and having Trump walk in during the speech is what set all this off.
Ben Shapiro at the Daily Wire wrote “That booing has, of course, put Cruz in a difficult political spot – instead of the speech being seen as the quasi-endorsement it was, it was now seen as a betrayal, an act of political backstabbing.”
Shapiro makes the case that it was orchestrated by Trump to embarrass Cruz and kneecap him politically. If that’s even partly true it shows that Cruz was trying to make the best out of a bad situation.
At the end of the day, Ted Cruz willingly walked into a hostile area, stood up for conservative principles, did not bow down under the fierce pressure to conform, and did it all without uttering a negative word about or attacking Trump personally.
He stood up to the establishment and stood for the grass roots. He gambled that he will be the last conservative standing and he has the message to truly unify not just the Republicans but all of America.
I trust Ted Cruz because he understands that if there is no truth and moral clarity there can never be unity.
Main Photo by Chris Corrado • Digital illustration by Josh Byers