The end of the conservative White House dream

Following Ted Cruz’s exit from the Republican presidential race just a matter of hours ago, here are a couple of lines from his final, ever principled speech which I particularly liked:

“Everybody deserves dignity and respect whether they agree with you or not”

“Every one of us has an inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”

Such expressions sum up what I saw his campaign to embody – even in the endmost dark days of gruelling, trivial and frankly desperate campaigning on the part of both him and Trump. Cruz consistently ran a humble and well-mannered campaign, especially given the circumstances (Accusations of his dad’s connections to JFK’s assassination, of his wife being unattractive, of his supposed ineligibility – to name but a few).

His platform was an unashamedly ideological one. It was of the country that he would wish to offer and secure through thoughtful policies – predicated and conditional upon their compatibility with the very real concepts of freedom and liberty.

Furthermore, his witty responses even to hostility (we cannot forget the recent Communist Manifesto incident or awkward encounters with Trump supporters) reinforced an image of a statesmanlike, good-humoured candidate who never failed to evidence, by actions or words, the value that he placed upon open debate.

Having watched and anticipated the Republican race for the 2016 presidency with excitement since Romney Ryan 2012 (yes, I stayed up for the general election at age 16 and yes I cried when Romney lost), it is nothing short of tragic that the 2016 race’s last and best true conservative candidate is now out of the running. It goes without saying that this swift departure leaves only a crude, authoritarian and mercantilistic bully – in the form of Donald Trump – as the only real opponent to Hillary Clinton’s similarly terrifying politics (to anyone with core values of liberty and a foundation of economic liberalism, at least).

Ted Cruz, now just a here’s-what-you-could-have-won junior Senator from Texas, did indeed humbly champion principles of personal and economic freedom, faith, justice, limited government, truth and liberty throughout his dignified campaign. As a proud constitutionalist who has tackled consequential issues such as mass collection of phone records, excessive executive power and eminent domain, Cruz also even referred to the Constitution 1,300 times on his campaign website. Unsurprising given his proud legal career defending it and succeeding against the Supreme Court. What is more, his name drops of Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek certainly earned him due appreciation in an often surface-level Republican atmosphere. On the other hand, it is of course almost too obvious to point out that, despite all of this, Cruz’s platform in the campaign was not profoundly, and indeed not intentionally, libertarian. However, he undoubtedly managed to earn a place in many pragmatic libertarians’ hearts. As the enemy of the Washington power-hungry and unprincipled establishment, Ted Cruz certainly bore his newly earned title of ‘Lucifer’, with pride.

It should be a source of regret to every American, let alone every self-declared conservative, that primary voters gathered against him or, rather, failed to gather for him. Meanwhile, the very existence of the brief Cruz phenomenon can be a source of sorrow for the British conservatarian who must reckon with a woeful deficit of similarly disposed conviction politicians in the UK, a climate averse to unashamed ideology.

Here’s to Ted Cruz 2020 – and to all Ted Cruzes of the world.



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