I understand all the emotional complexities that go into supporting a particular candidate during any primary season. Voters can become as attached to and sure of the supremacy of their chosen candidate as they are their favorite sports team. Some become even more steeped in the process, until any challenge to their candidate is akin to a grave and unforgiveable insult.
I get all of this. I’m a Rick Perry supporter, through and through, so when Perry manned up and suspended his candidacy in September of 2015, I witnessed the 5 classic stages of grief from myself and other supporters: Denial (“He said ‘suspended’ not ‘dropped’”), anger (at him, for dropping, at his campaign staff, while looking for somebody to blame), bargaining (What can we do to get him back?), depression (Our nation is doomed if they can’t recognize the leader Rick Perry is), and acceptance (moving on to support other candidates). The point is, it was deeply felt, because the loyalty was deep, and the rate at which supporters move on or adjust can be varied.
I never actually got to a point where I could throw my energy and support behind another candidate, 100%, since I only saw the remaining field as a series of “not Perrys.” I turned my passions to a cause, rather than a specific candidate. That cause was to stop Trump, since literally anybody would be a vast improvement over the gilded toad.
I can offer that I liked Marco Rubio. I still like Marco Rubio. I had the same misgivings about him as others had, but when his overall record was taken into account, he was a consistently conservative candidate. He was likable, with a broad appeal, which spelled out electability in November. Whether it was the coordinated attacks from Trump, Jeb Bush, and Ted Cruz that sank Rubio’s campaign, missteps behind the scenes with his campaign, or some combination of causes, he ran the best race he could, for as long as was plausible, and then he stepped out with grace and dignity that should make his supporters proud. I reject those that say he should have got out of the race earlier, in order to give Ted Cruz a chance. There’s just no real proof that his exit would have made a decided difference in the results against Trump, and he was doing well enough that he had the right to stick it out through Florida.
Now I say what stings. If you are still voting for Rubio in the states that have him on the ballot, even though you know he has stepped down, then you are hurting our nation, going forward. I’m not going to say something ridiculous, like you’re voting for Trump or Hillary. You’re only voting for Trump or Hillary if you actually make that conscious choice to physically vote for them.
Last night we saw Rubio get 18% of the vote in Arizona, which amounted to 18% of the votes not going against Trump. Some of those may have been early voting, and that’s forgivable, but when there are people who are proclaiming that they voted for Rubio just because he was on their ballot and they refuse to vote for anybody else, that is the equivalent of an electoral temper tantrum. If there’s still somebody in the running within reach of beating Trump, then that is where the votes should go.
Any talk of a write-in in the general is pointless, as well. Write-in votes get logged in as “other,” and rarely has “other” won a general election. Trust me, the only way I would recommend that is if Trump is the nominee and no third party candidate has stepped forward. Even then, you can believe I would be writing in Rick Perry. It would become a war of the “others” on a path to nowhere.
This is the closest you will see me come to saying support Ted Cruz. I have documented my issues with the man here. It’s a question of character for me, but if my choices are between Cruz and Trump, I will do what is necessary to stop Trump.
As I said, I get the emotion involved. When our gladiator falls, we have a period of mourning to go through. Rubio is a fine man, by all accounts. He would have made a good president, but this was not his year. I’m not going to tell you that you don’t have the right to feel what you feel. What I am going to tell you is that the time is very short, and our nation needs you to suck it up and become a productive member of the process.
I’m sorry you’re disappointed. My prayer and hope is that you can let go of the bitterness in time to do what is necessary to save our republic. The time for doing the right thing is short, and to paraphrase the very wise words of Governor Perry: This has never been about a man, but about the message of conservatism.