The surreal spectacle of Texas Senator Ted Cruz standing at the microphone at the Republican National Convention was amazing to behold. He thumbed the eye of the nominee and his supporters. He ignored the pledge he made to support the Republican nominee. He left some convention delegates foaming at the mouth in anger, some shaking their heads in disappointment, and others quietly cheering. He imperiled his political future. Importantly, however, he also delivered a master class in political courage and treachery.
Courage? Yes, courage. It took courage to tell a hostile crowd of fervent Donald Trump supporters that they picked the wrong person to be their nominee. It took courage to tell those same delegates and voters around the country that they should not support Donald Trump. I know he didn't use those words exactly, but make no mistake about it; "vote your conscience" is the same as saying "anybody but Trump." It's one thing to say it to friends at the dinner table. It's another thing altogether to say it in front of thousands of people in a room and millions more watching at home.
But it was also the most traitorous political move in American political history. Benedict Arnold, Judas Iscariot and Marcus Junius Brutus would be impressed. Political geeks know that party conventions are multi-day marketing events. Long past are the days in which they picked the nominee. Their only purpose is to promote and propel the nominee into the general election. Every person who speaks at a convention knows the deal and the expectation that they will assist in that effort. To understand this but use someone else's party to promote your agenda, with all there is at stake, is the height of treachery. Cruz, yet again, put himself above the party.
Courage and treachery are common in politics. Rarely do you see it displayed by one person simultaneously. Cruz, who is conducting himself as someone who has already begun the 2020 campaign, delivered an amazing "daily double." His 2020 plan, however, requires Trump to lose this year. Cruz is doing all he can to make sure his plan, not Trump's is what prevails.
Michael K. Fauntroy is associate professor of political science at Howard University in Washington, D.C. and author of Republicans and the Black Vote. His next book, More than Just Partisanship: Conservatives and Black Voter Suppression will be published in 2017 by New York University Press. He blogs at MichaelFauntroy.com.