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This is awkward, at least if you're a liberal-minded person who worries about the rule of President Trump.
Didn't antigay Texas senator Ted Cruz finally do something right? He got up in front of the Republican National Convention in primetime last night and with the world watching said, "Vote your conscience." In other words, you don't have to vote for that racist, authoritarian, bully we've come to call the Republican presidential nominee.
Isn't he an example to every fair-minded Republican? What a much different convention we'd be watching if Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, and the previous Bush presidents had the guts to show up and get booed -- lustily.
Former primary opponent John Kasich is in the state, because he's the governor, and won't go anywhere near the convention hall. That's not courage. If it wasn't clear that the Republican Party lacks leaders before Trump took over, the problem is glaring under the light of the massive plasma screens adorning the stage in Cleveland. Dare I say we need more Ted Cruzes at the convention?
The thought makes me shudder.
Ted Cruz remains the worst human being in the world. The Advocate actually named him "Phobie of the Year" in 2014. Cruz not only wants to overturn marriage equality, he proposed federally invalidating existing same-sex marriages. His explicitly transphobic campaign ran our country's first anti-trans ad for president of the United States. And last night Cruz had the gall to pretend he was unifying the country in one of those "black or white," "Republican or Democrat," "gay or straight" moments while actually calling for religious freedom bills that activists label as a "license to discriminate." To further twist your mind, he invoked "conscience" to make that point.
"Whether you are gay, or straight, the Bill of Rights protects the rights of all of us to live according to our conscience," he said to cheers, everyone knowing what he really meant.
So I fear, Trump wins. The most reviled man in Washington is now the poster-politician for anti-Trump conservatism. Trump is a political branding wunderkind and couldn't have hand-picked a better person for the job.
Cruz's reasons for stinking up the party last night are incredibly petty. Instead of standing up for any greater good, Cruz is standing up only for himself (and, possibly, his chances in 2020).
"I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father," explained Cruz this morning, according to The Hill, which reported on a meeting between Cruz and some angry Texas delegates. "Neither he nor his campaign has taken back a word of what they said about my family."
Trump said some terrible things during the primary. Trump once posted a photo on Twitter of Heidi Cruz next to Melania Trump for the sole purpose of saying Cruz's wife is unattractive.
Still, Cruz fails to see the bigger picture, one that goes beyond himself, one in which Donald Trump regularly maligns women based on their appearances. Trump is a sexist running a sexist campaign for president. He accused Clinton of playing the "woman card" to get elected, saying men actually have it harder, and that maybe Clinton ought not yell in her speeches.
The point is, Cruz's protest is too small to make a difference. He's not standing up to Trump on behalf of the women being put down, or the Mexicans being called criminals, or the Muslims being called terrorists.
Another terribly anti-LGBT human being and former GOP primary opponent, Mike Huckabee, took to Facebook last night to shame Cruz. "From where I sit, I didn't see a statesman step forth for the country's future," wrote Huckabee, who has endorsed Trump. "I saw a self-absorbed politician grab the microphone and try to line up his own future. Ted walked in tall and walked out small."
I only disagree that Ted ever walked in tall. Cruz is like the rest of his party, in that he still only recognizes Trump as a meanie. The GOP primary was a disaster for having dismissed Trump from the start only for his demeanor, for lack of experience, but never for his policies.
And here we are, still not talking about policies.
Trump won the primary by turning it into a reality show, based on personalities instead of principles, and he's turned the convention into yet another episode. The first night of the convention was themed "Make America Safe Again," as if it might outline some Trump policies on national security. I doubt you heard any.
The one thing we all learned on Monday is that Melania Trump has a deep affection for Michelle Obama. Tuesday was supposed to be about how we "Make America Work Again," as if we might learn something about tax policy or economic revitalization. I can't say I recall hearing anything about that. Just a bunch of "Lock Her Up! Lock Her Up!" chants from the villagers in the audience coming with pitchforks for Hillary Clinton.
I can't recall the "Make America" something again theme of last night's debacle. But it must have been "Make America Small Again."
LUCAS GRINDLEY is editorial director for Here Media. Contact him via @lucasgrindley on Twitter.