Cruz has his hardcore supporters. They will march in lockstep with him over the edge and into that special hell pit reserved for Republicans who are more willing to hand the Supreme Court to Hillary Clinton than to stomach a showman populist.
The real question is how much appeal he retains beyond his core supporters. When Rockefeller refused to endorse Goldwater in 1964, he still received a friendly welcome in our nation’s more prestigious country clubs, but he had no more traction outside of his core base of support. I am inclined to think that the same will be true for the windbag Senator from Texas, especially if he gets some of the blame for a Trump defeat and then a leftist Supreme Court that eradicated our rights.
Political parties exist in part to allow factions to overcome their differences for shared objectives. Now, I cannot blame Cruz for refusing to endorse Trump given what Trump implied about his wife and said about his father. Nevertheless, he could have stayed home and said nothing. Instead, he joins Bill Kristol, Mitt Romney, and the Bushes in effectively supporting the Clinton Crime Syndicate over the overwhelming choice of his fellow GOP primary voters. By joining with the Never Trump crowd, he undermines the ability of the party to unify behind its nominee in constructing in time an electoral and governing majority coalition.
There is a time for factional infighting, but there is also a time for party unity, and now is the time that real leaders set aside their bruised egos for the good of liberty. By his refusal to do so, or just to stay at home, Cruz shows himself now not to be principled, but to be petulant. He relinquishes leadership for self-indulgence. He refuses the role of statesman for the attention grabbing histrionics of a two bit showman. The irony is that this is the label usually affixed to Trump’s lapel, and yet in Cruz’s public temper tantrum we are seeing the Senator from Texas out-Trump Trump.
Nixon campaigned hard for Goldwater in 1964, even though he had serious private reservations about him. Reagan endorsed Nixon in 1968 and Ford in 1976, even though he pursued the GOP nomination against both men. These men were real leaders, and that is why they became in time Presidents. Unless Cruz decides some day to set aside his considerable ego and to mature into a real party statesman, it is hard for me to see the majority of Republican primary voters rallying to his cause in 2020 or thereafter.