Why Ted Cruz’s call to “vote your conscience” was the right decision

in Philosophy/Politics

The conservative world watched in the time leading up to Senator Ted Cruz’s speech at the Republican National Convention. Would the former primary opponent of Republican nominee Donald Trump finally issue an endorsement? Would he dodge the issue and refuse an endorsement? Would he even go as far as take a Third Eye Blind approach and just lay it all on the table in front of those who would oppose him?

The result was Senator Cruz giving his primetime speech and exiting the stage without offering an endorsement of Trump.

The crowd at the Republican National Committee responded with loud outrage, booing him off the stage for not supporting the man they just nominated. On one side of things, it appears disrespectful. The Republican National Convention is where Republicans come together to chose a presidential nominee, celebrate their cause, and ultimately unite for the general election. If you haven’t yet issued your support for the presidential nominee that was just nominated, should you be there at all?


The issue regarding Senator Cruz’s decision and the question in general runs much deeper, for a number of reasons. First, from a purely personal standpoint, it’s not unreasonable that he is hesitant to support a man who attacked his wife and father. It’s easier to declare from a political perspective that a certain candidate should be supported, but it’s difficult when family has been on the receiving end of political swipes.

There is also the philosophical question about your vote.

How should one vote in a general election? How should one vote period? It’s a debate that occurs every election cycle, as political parties wager their bets and make their case. Predictably, every cycle is the same old Republican vs. Democrat setup that never changes. If you’re a Republican, vote Republican because the Democrat is worse and having the Democrat win would be worse for Republicans. Reverse that to reflect a Democratic perspective, and their people are told the same thing about the evils of Republicans.

It’s also intellectually dishonest. Many Democrats are progressive liberals who supported Senator Bernie Sanders, who has since lost and thrown his support behind Hillary Clinton. From a party stand point, the former Secretary of State seems like an obvious answer. But from a philosophical standpoint, their views are much more in line with Green Party candidate Jill Stein.


Should Senator Sanders supporters go with Clinton simply because she is the Democratic Party nominee? Or should they vote their conscience, whether it is for Stein, Libertarian Gary Johnson, or anyone else?

This is the heart of Senator Cruz’s point. It may be politically motivated given the personal bad blood with Trump, but it’s not wrong. Voting your conscience could even mean voting for Donald Trump if you feel that’s who should be President, but it also means don’t just vote for Trump because he is the Republican nominee. Americans get stuck with bad politicians time and time again because they compromise values and settle for lesser evils. Despite the same tired argument in favor of pragmatism, it doesn’t work.

America needs to try something else. Senator Cruz may or may not have gotten a number of things wrong in the past, but he is right on this point. Vote your conscience.

Chris Dixon is a liberty activist and writer from Maine. In addition to being Managing Editor for the Liberty Conservative, he also writes the Bangor Daily News blog "Undercover Porcupine" and for sports website Cleatgeeks.