Last night, Ted Cruz proved a lot of things about himself and about the things he believed. But the most important thing he proved was about Donald Trump’s supporters: he proved that they are more interested in settling perceived grievances with the Republican party than they are in actually winning the White House.
Here’s how I know: Mike Pence gave a speech last night. Pence is the party’s Vice Presidential nominee. The success of his speech is a big deal to the success of the party’s ticket in November. It’s important for Pence’s speech to make a big splash and a big impression on the population. Much, much more important than whether or not Ted Cruz endorsed him or not.
And yet, if you check social media and in the news, the Trump supporters might as well have not even seen Mike Pence’s speech. None of them are talking about it. None of them are the slightest bit interested in what Pence brings to the ticket or his vision for America. On the other hand, they are hopping mad and incessantly bitching about Ted Cruz not endorsing Trump – in spite of the fact that the first words out of Cruz’s mouth were congratulating Donald Trump for his victory, and in spite of the fact that he did not say a single negative word about Trump, and additionally in spite of the fact that he encouraged people not to stay home in November.
Let’s be clear about something: contrary to what a bunch of ill-informed Trump supporting idiots are saying on Twitter, Cruz’s speech – including the absence of an explicit endorsement of Trump – was pre-cleared by both the RNC and Trump. his speech, including the non-endorsement of Trump, was not a surprise to the RNC or Trump in any way. Even Donald Trump himself admitted this on Twitter, and for once Trump’s twitter is not full of crap. I began to hear reports in the afternoon that Cruz told the RNC that he would not endorse Trump, and that the RNC was exerting a lot of pressure on him to change his mind, but that he firmly told them that he would not. He said he would congratulate Donald Trump, would avoid saying anything negative about Trump, and talk about the principles he stood for. The RNC and Trump both agreed to let him proceed with the speech as is. So the idea that Cruz sprung this on them as some sort of surprise is absolute BS.
Another piece of BS that has been circulated by the RNC to throw dirt on Ted Cruz is that he gave different remarks on stage than the prepared ones he submitted to the RNC for review. Unfortunately, the RNC screwed themselves on this score by sending to media organization prepared copies of Ted Cruz remarks which show that Cruz said exactly what his prepared remarks indicated.
In fact, in response to the news that Cruz was going to make a speech that did not explicitly endorse him, Trump intentionally chose to escalate the situation by leaking the news to friendly delegations and instructing them to boo Cruz to make this a bigger deal that it otherwise would have been. If Trump’s delegates had not booed and caused a ruckus, but instead had remained silent or applauded at Cruz’s exhortation to vote for down ticket races, everyone today would be talking about Pence and his speech, and the discussion would be about positive things associated with Trump and Pence and how they are going to move forward after the convention to at least possible victory.
But that is not what Trump’s supporters are interested in. They are interested in having a constant object of hatred and scorn, and it’s preferred if the target is a Republican. This is the driving force behind their support for Trump, principles be damned. Trump knows it too, which is why he was perfectly happy to let Ted Cruz go on stage, as long as the signal was clearly sent to his supporters that Ted Cruz is supposed to be the new object of hate.
Trump’s supporters really and truly don’t understand how well he constantly plays them. He treats them exactly like he treats his reality TV audience, and he knows that the successful ingredient to any “reality” TV show is the character who everyone loves to hate. I really only watched the first season of The Apprentice and for that season it was Omarosa. I assume subsequent seasons of The Apprentice had it but pretty much every reality TV show includes this character on purpose – for Survivor it was Richard Hatch, The Bachelor had Courtney, and so on and so on. “Reality” TV understands that nothing keeps viewers coming back like someone they want to see get “kicked off,” preferably in some humiliating fashion.
Trump has played that note to perfection throughout the GOP primary, leading his slobbering mass of followers from one object of hatred to another. You can tell they are buying into it from the way they talk about Trump’s opponents, and the way they take glee at Trump’s utter destruction of them. The idea of Trump winning is really beside the point for them – they want to see people lose.
There’s a reason Trump continues to do this to Republicans even throughout his own convention – it’s because he can’t put Hillary in that position with the general voting public – which still dislikes him more than it dislikes her. So instead he continues to litigate the GOP primary endlessly, pulling his supporters along and pointing them at objects of Republican hatred and destruction all along the way.
I dunno. I’ve heard a lot of well-intentioned Republicans like Paul Ryan and Scott Walker make impassioned pleas this week to get on board the Trump Train for the sake of winning against Hillary. What I can’t understand is why these people can’t see that winning against Hillary isn’t the point of what either Trump or his followers are doing. They’re just working out perceived grievances with the GOP, and when they get bored with Ted Cruz, they might well fixate on you next, if that’s what Trump tells them to do.
The time for focusing on beating Hillary has passed. That ship sailed when the party didn’t feel like defeating Trump was an important enough reason to unite behind Cruz (or someone else, I would have taken any of the other candidates, personally). Trump himself isn’t going to focus on it, and neither will his supporters. So why are you begging conservatives to join in the destruction of their own party?