National conventions have a way of spreading myths and misinformation. With all the political spinsters involved crafting every intricate detail behind the scenes to propagate their intended message, it’s not surprising that a lot of false narratives emerge. But it’s our job as the public to shoot them down. Here are three myths about Trump and his convention that we shouldn’t believe.
1.) Trump dominated the primaries
As a way of trying to minimize the argument for #NeverTrump, Trump and his allies are trying to spread the falsehood that Trump was the resounding choice of the voters and that it would have been wrong to “deny the will of the people” by nominating someone other than him (or even to vote on it).
Trump himself said, ”I dominated with the evangelicals,” and Trump’s claims of domination have been picked up uncritically by some journalists and pundits. For example, John Hinderaker of Powerline Blog wrote of the attempted voice vote, “NeverTrump Republicans vowed to find a way to deprive Donald Trump of the party’s nomination, despite his domination of the primaries.”
Trump didn’t, however, dominate. He won by a historically tiny margin, a margin so small that it could have been grasped even by his own fingers. In fact, no Republican nominee has won a smaller percentage of the vote since the primary campaign was extended to all 50 states. The last time any nominee won less than Trump’s 45 percent was the 1968 Republican primary when Nixon won 37.5 percent of the vote.
Trump struggled through a protracted primary even though he was helped by a front-loaded schedule that benefited him. In fact, it wasn’t until his home state’s primary on April 19 that Trump won a majority of the vote for the first time. In most years the primary is already decided by that point, but Trump had to fight it out through May. In fact, Cruz was within 1 million votes of Trump up until Florida and Ohio voted on March 15, and by the time Cruz dropped out, Trump had barely won 40 percent of the vote.
2.) Trump is strong
If there’s one thing Trump wants you to think about him it’s that he’s “strong.” He used the word six times in his convention speech, and he has a thing about saying, “We need strength,” as a response to just about any problem America is facing.
The problem is, if America needs strength, Trump isn’t the one to bring it. Trump is running a phenomenally weak-minded campaign. His whole convention speech, with its emphasis on exaggerating the threats we face, and in some cases bolstering the fear with false numbers, showed a staggering weakness. He brags about being scared of things he shouldn’t be. He once told his fans at a rally that while taking a flight in Laredo, Texas, “I told the pilots, I said, ‘Fly a little bit away from the border, please. Fly a little bit inland.’ It’s a whole scary thing.”
Worst of all, Trump would respond to these exaggerated threats by proposing extraconstitutional measures. He would order the military to kill women and children who happen to be family members of terrorists, he would try to force private companies to shut down shops overseas, and if anyone raises First Amendment concerns about his plan to “close that internet up in some way,” he says these people are “foolish.” It’s not strength to throw away our sacred rights because a demagogue promises us absolute safety. That’s cowardice.
3.) Cruz is done
After Ted Cruz asked Republicans to vote their conscience in his convention speech, Team Trump began spreading the narrative that Cruz’s political career is over. That and the fact that Cruz’s father was involved in killing JFK. Sarah Palin, who hasn’t served elected office in eight years, tweeted that Cruz should “delete [his] career.” Trump campaign lawyer Michael Cohen called Cruz’s speech “political suicide.”
It’s too early to say how this will impact Cruz. But it’s also too early for self-satisfied political eulogies. Cruz won his state’s presidential primary by 17 points, and he maintains a positive favorability rating there.
Depending on how 2016 plays out, there is certainly an imaginable path to the 2020 nomination for an outspoken conservative who didn’t bend their principles to Trump’s hostile takeover. Cruz and Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse are the best positioned for the principled lane at the moment. Even if Cruz doesn’t ever win the presidential nomination, he could still have a long and high-profile Senate career.
But most of all, a speech about remaining true to one’s conscience shouldn’t be discounted just because it could hurt the speaker politically. The whole point is that people shouldn’t be so politically-expedient. If Cruz does lose at the end of the day, Rubio, Ryan, and Pence will likely be on the losing side of the presidential election, but Cruz will still have his conscience intact.