Out of the chaos in Cleveland comes yet another story of discouragement and deflation, as one veteran GOP activist from Arizona now contemplates leaving political activism altogether after three days of witnessing his party’s national convention.
Chris Morrill, an Arizona delegate and Ted Cruz supporter, said his experience at the Republican National Convention has been disheartening.
“I’m going to have to do a lot of searching in myself and prayer, and see: Do I surrender to this type of bully tactic or do I keep fighting?”
He added: “Maybe I’ve failed as a Christian, and I need to campaign just as hard for Christ as I campaigned for Ted Cruz, and that’s why I’m saying I may not be doing anything in politics anymore. I haven’t decided, but I’m certainly going to be fighting for Christ and [for] a lot of values, such as pro-life values.”
The major parties’ national conventions usually act as a cathartic moment, a chance for intraparty factions that have been feuding during the primaries to finally start the healing process and coalesce behind their presidential nominee.
But for this year’s GOP convention, the ride had been rough from the start. On Monday, a restless minority pushed to unbind delegates from having to vote for Donald Trump on the first ballot. While the Never Trump movement was outmaneuvered, the ensuing drama once more exposed the GOP’s ongoing struggles to transcend its bruising primary. Then, what was supposed to a triumphant moment for Melania Trump turned into a PR disaster, as parts of her speech had been embarrassingly lifted, sometimes word for word, from First Lady Michelle Obama’s own convention speech in 2008.
But the climactic moment for Morrill, who is an officer at his party’s district organization in Phoenix, happened last night, when Ted Cruz took gave his speech and was heckled for not endorsing Trump and suggesting that people should vote their “conscience.” While Trump himself sought to downplay the non-endorsement as not a big deal, his surrogates bitterly complained that Cruz had betrayed his pledge to ultimately support their party’s presidential pick.
Morrill said what he saw on the convention floor on Wednesday night was an operation to turn Cruz into some kind of a pariah.
“To see the Donald Trump whips going up and down aisles and areas and telling people to start booing, which coincidentally was almost the same kind of timing as when Donald Trump got there, it’s just sickening to me. It shows a lack of respect,” Morrill said.
Morrill said Cruz spoke about unity based on party values, but Trump’s supporters were so hung up on extracting a public endorsement from him that they missed his point.
“He gave a wonderful speech, and people are looking at it in such pettiness,” he said.
Morrill had come to Cleveland full of enthusiasm. He has been active in the GOP for nearly a decade now, starting as a precinct committee and now serving as second vice chairman of the GOP in Legislative District 27.
In April, he became a delegate to RNC. To help finance the trip, he created a GoFundMe page and raised a little over $2,000.
On his GoFundMe page, he noted that Arizona’s rules bind him to Trump on the first ballot.
“And I will honor my commitment. However, once released, I will support Ted Cruz at the convention and will fight for him on every subsequent ballot,” he said.
At the convention, he has not been shy about his support for Cruz, often wearing a Ted Cruz shirt and hat. But he wore a Diamondbacks hat on the night Trump became the official nominee, out of respect, he said, for his state and for Trump.
“What needs to happen is Donald Trump needs to sell me on Donald Trump, and he’s not done that. He’s not earned my vote,” he said, complaining that Trump had personally smeared his rivals during the primary and has not apologized for his tactics.
The GOP activist said that, to him, is saying, “We don’t need you.”
“[But] obviously, they need us. They all know they need us,” he said. “People stayed home with Romney and he didn’t win, and there might be more people that might stay home when Donald Trump is at the ballot box.”
Morrill said he is still heeding Cruz’s call to show up to the polls this November.
But he said he won’t vote based on “how bad” the other party’s nominee is.
“My vote is on how good a person is. I vote to support someone. I don’t vote because I don’t like someone else,” he said.