Republican officials offer poor example in democratic involvement to voters


AP Exchange

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas speaks at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference, Thursday, March 6, 2014.

Natalia Ruiz

Before Trump received the Republican nomination, a bevy of political leaders embraced the #NeverTrump movement. Since then, the controversial businessman has emerged as the nominee, and the influencers who had vowed to remain steadfast against Trump were faced with the decision to endorse the candidate or to continue to renounce him. Some have struggled to bring themselves to either endorse or renounce Trump.

Because Republican policy makers are faced with the question of what to publicly say on the matter, multiple media outlets are currently tracking GOP leaders on their endorsements — or lack thereof — for Trump. These leaders fall into one of four categories — for Trump, against Trump, undecided and abstaining. The second category is split between those who openly endorse Clinton such as former lieutenant general Brent Scowcroft and writer Robert Kagan (this space is largely devoid of any prominent Republicans in office) and those who have merely expressed resolutions to not support Trump. The last two fall into a grey territory of showing no preference for a candidate.

The currently undecided are forgivable — the candidate they endorse reflects back upon them, and despite Trump receiving a large, begrudging amount of endorsements after clinching the Republican nomination, it still doesn’t look good to align yourself with him.

The problem lies with the politicians who are simply refusing to participate. Unlike their undecided brethren, these leaders are making the statement that when an important decision is not clear cut, it is ok to not participate. Almost all of use will hear from state-required government classes about the importance of participation in a democracy. People who are in the spotlight for participating in the political realm have the power to influence large numbers of voters, which makes their silence on the topic all the more disappointing.

It is a political leader’s obligation to at least appear to adhere to the moral compass they claim to have as they campaign. Democracy is run by people making choices, and like the game “would you rather,” it's not usually a decision as easy as “would you rather rage at sixth street with all your friends or stay in alone eating at Kinsolving.” Politicians are supposed to stand as model citizens we elected them because of their ideals and obvious enthusiasm for civic engagement. This season, the only living former Republican presidents alive refuse to endorse a candidate. When so many show resignation in regards to the upcoming election, it sets a bad example for the people they represent.

In Texas, multiple prominent Republicans have vocalized their support for Trump, but just as many have been radio silent on the subject. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Governor Greg Abbott have encouraged state-level politicians to rally behind the Republican nominee. Spokespeople for both former presidents Bushes have said that they are not participating in elections this season, and Ted Cruz has yet to speak on the matter. Former Texas governor Rick Perry, who was initially a strong critic of Trump, turned sides and said he was open to serving as vice president. Senator John Cornyn has spoken in support of Trump, but seems to waver on the matter.

Many people have given up trying to differentiate between who they would prefer less in the White House. Millions of people will vote in this upcoming election. Let’s be real here — your vote probably won’t be the one to save or damn America (so it’s time to get over any “Chosen One” fantasies you’ve been harboring since your Deathly Hallows days). But democracies can be affected by large groups of idiots who treat their votes as jokes. Each of these votes constitute the consent of the governed. They matter, and we can’t afford to forget that.

Ruiz is a Plan II and English junior from Houston.