One of the more contentious issues in 2016’s historic and highly unusual election cycle has overflowed onto the pages of WND over the last couple of days.
Monday night, WND posted a column by Managing Editor David Kupelian headlined “Is the Cruz campaign moral?” It documented that not only are Cruz operatives swarming over primary states won by Donald Trump in efforts to persuade Trump delegates to vote for Cruz on a second ballot at the GOP nominating convention this summer, but are actually recruiting pro-Cruz people to become the Trump delegates – so that if the billionaire front-runner doesn’t win the magic number of 1,237 delegates before the convention, Cruz is likely to win on a second ballot.
Donald Trump won the Arizona primary in a landslide, 47.1 percent to Ted Cruz’s 24.9 percent, giving the GOP front-runner all 58 of that winner-take-all state’s delegates.
Right now, the Cruz campaign is engaged in a “furious” on-the-ground campaign in Arizona – and in other states won by Trump, including Louisiana, Georgia and Tennessee – to convert Trump delegates into Cruz delegates on a second ballot, should there be a contested GOP convention this summer.
The question is: Is this moral?
A tidal wave of responses from WND readers followed, including more than 3,000 comments attached to the column itself, plus a tsunami of email coming to WND.
Then, 24 hours later, WND founder and Editor Joseph Farah jumped into the fray and posted a rebuttal column, headlined “It’s just politics, people,” articulating the other side of the argument.
“We live in a country of representative government,” explained Farah. “It doesn’t always work well, but it’s probably the best system of governance one can hope for in a fallen world.”
He continued, “In a representative government, the people do not make policy decisions directly. Instead, they vote for representatives who do.
“With that in mind, let me pose the question in slightly revised form: Suppose a member of Congress is elected in your district by the express will of the majority. Let’s also assume you believe that member is taking a wrong position on a particular issue. Would it be immoral for you to try to persuade him/her to vote differently?
“It seems to me that is analogous to what the Cruz campaign is doing with Arizona delegates pledged to Trump. By the way, they are pledged to Trump only on the first ballot! If they are legally and morally pledged to Trump on the first ballot, please explain to me why it would be immoral to persuade them to vote for someone else on the second? It doesn’t even make any sense to me,” he wrote. “I would suggest there is plenty of immorality built into our politics. It’s true that a small minority within the Republican establishment is trying to force its will upon the vast majority of Republican voters. The same thing is happening within the Democratic Party establishment.
“But this is not an example of that. This is an example of people and campaigns working within the established rules to make their case for a specific candidate.”
More passionate reader responses ensued.
So, what exactly are all those thousands of WND readers saying?
Overall it’s a split decision. Large numbers of WND readers argue that rules are rules, they’re the same for all the candidates, and as long as Team Cruz abides by them it is fair game for them to turn Trump delegates into Cruz delegates. In fact, some insist, this is the system working exactly as it was intended.
However, just as many readers express outrage, claim Cruz’s delegate-poaching activities are “immoral” and subvert the clear will of voters. Some also complain of a wider pattern of “sleazy” campaign tactics on the part of the Cruz campaign.
Here is a small but representative sampling:
- “Cruz is following the rules … he did not make them, but he needs to play by them,” said USAfan22.
- “Now I realize why the Ron Paul supporters were so upset with the party. Now, I realize why so many of the Republican reps, like Gov. Sununu, can be so adamant when he says, ‘Donald Trump will not be the Republican nominee,'” commented Nee43.
- “What is immoral about asking people to reconsider their decision? If they cast their vote for Trump (as legally required and morally expected) on the first ballot and he comes up short, since they are allowed by convention rules to cast their subsequent vote(s) for whomever they choose, how is that immoral?” said Rev. Michael L. White.
- “I’m afraid I lean toward this is unethical,” says Bob Dudley. “When Cruz first started I had high hopes – he made a big deal about being a ‘Christian’ leader. But, alas, I feel now he is no different (and, perhaps, worse) than other politicians.”
- “Yes, it’s ethical, if team Cruz tries to flip delegates on a subsequent vote through politicking, but not if done through illegitimate means, such as bribery or duress. It’s called politics,” said Brian. “If you voted in a Republican primary or caucus and didn’t realize you were participating in a club election run by master politicians, rather than a popular vote, so sorry we forgot to inform you. I have news for you too: The presidency is also not decided by a popular vote.”
- “Are we run by a communist politburo who pick the candidates, puts your votes in the dumpster out back, and hands the keys to one of their cronies? Looks that way,” said Kung-Fu_Tsu.
- “Anyone who votes with their conscience would vote for the candidate that represents the primary election winner in their state. Anything outside of that is voting their own selfish agenda, which I believe would be immoral,” said Mya View.
- “We are at a very serious crossroads. It is vitally important that we put forward a candidate that has a good chance of winning, otherwise the prophesies expressed by Orwell and Rand come to reality and we can kiss off what is left of our republic. I am troubled by the fact that, while Trump currently leads the pack, he never wins the majority of the vote, meaning that, in reality, more people are voting against him than are voting for him. Under the circumstances, I do not have a problem with Cruz’s strategy. Having said that, I will also say that I certainly will vote for whoever wins the nomination, regardless of the political games that might be, or are being played to secure that nomination. The alternative is too scary to even contemplate,” said mortmich.
- “Yes, I think what Cruz is doing is morally acceptable,” added shoebear. “We don’t have a direct democracy in the USA; rather, we have a constitutional republic (what’s left of it). Our system is representative; we elect wise people we trust to advocate for our positions, but they are still independent actors who can do whatever they think is best at vote time. We see this all the time in Congress. Our founders wrote of the need for wise electors to be able to overrule foolish desires of the people. With this in mind, under the rules of the last convention, a national representative who votes as required in the first vote, then switches to another candidate for the second, is no problem. Of course, this speaks of the morality of the rep, not of Cruz’s advocacy for such a switch. But politics in general is all about advocacy, and for Cruz to advocate for a morally acceptable action of the rep is itself morally OK as well. Jesus himself advocates for shrewd actions – both when Jesus admonished his disciples to be ‘innocent as doves, and wise as serpents’ and also in the parable of the unrighteous steward.”
- “Cruz cannot be trusted,” says Randy Tucker. “His ‘evangelical’ profession is like his ‘conservative’ – he’s conservative only if and when it suits him.”
- “Cruz is doing something very similar to what Lincoln did in 1860,” responds NoelH. “Guess Lincoln was corrupt, too. On a second ballot, the delegates vote their conscience rather than their original assignment. It has ALWAYS been that way.”
- “The people don’t choose the Republican candidate. The Republican Party does,” says scruffyscirocco. “You as a voter, have the choice of becoming actively involved with the Republican Party and help in making that choice. Until you do, until you go to the caucus, try to get seated as a delegate to your county, state and national conventions, you have no business in telling the Republican Party what they can do and how they should do it.”
- “It’s OK by me,” says Don. “The whole arcane primary delegate system is a silly game beset with odd rules and slanted playing fields and each state seems to be different let alone the convention. Remember, we’re picking the Republican nominee here, it’s up to the Republican Party in the end, as they see fit. If Trump or Cruz or Rubio or Jeb was sure of the voters they could run independent and not have to deal with this crap. So, morality is irrelevant when you’re playing somebody else’s silly game. You just have to be honest and play by the rules as best you can. Cruz is doing that.”
- “Surely Mr. Farah realizes that this historic outsider uprising by both Republican and Democrat voters is one long, collective scream of moral outrage,” wrote Marilee Haraldsson, citing “what goes on in Washington on a daily basis. … We do not want politics as usual and are rightly incensed when a self-avowed Senator Cruz gets down in the muck and mire, and plays politics as usual. Hopefully the sheer volume of Cruz’s actions speaking louder than his words will wake up the American electorate. Sadly, I believe the senator to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
- “I think that Cruz has read ‘The Art of the Deal,'” said James Bernard. “He’s simply using the existing delegate rules to ‘deal out’ the Trumpster.”
- “The rules allow delegate conversion after the first ballot for a reason – to resolve an impasse by letting the delegates re-assess, knowing they have to resolve a stalled decision,” said Reverend Dean Drone. “So, yes, I am totally comfortable with the morality of what the Cruz campaign is doing: They are doing exactly what an ambitious, energized, and intelligent campaign is expected to do.”
- But texasgrandmom said, “I supported [Cruz] early in Texas when he was at about 2%, I voted for him in the Senate primary, and for the Senate in the general in Texas. [But] I am totally disgusted by his attempt to overturn the results of the elections with his dishonest, typical establishment quest for power. It’s all about power for Cruz, not America. And when I think back on him, I should have realized it.”
- “The reason it’s immoral is simple,” says Janet Williams. “He’s invalidating our votes. Why even have an election? Just allow the candidates to bully and bribe the delegates. Whoever is best at bullying and bribing wins. Why waste money on the primaries at all?”
- “It is within the rules, but it looks bad,” opines frozeninbemidji. “He may gain delegates from it, but he will definitely lose votes in the general over it, if he pulls it off.”
- “Do you have any doubt that Trump will do ANYTHING without a second thought if it is ‘legal’?” responds Mister Vice. “He has already excused himself many times using that line, don’t try that crap with me!! And you think it would cost votes in November because of what? The voters would be repulsed by the GOP following the rules the GOP has made for their own primary? Yeah, RIGHT!! They’ll be revolted by the GOP’s poor taste and run straight into the arms of the forever-virtuous Hillary Clinton … or that socialist dodo Bernie Cinders. I don’t think so, frozen.”
- “There was only one perfect man,” concluded IKCIV, “and his name was Jesus.”