Democrats Will Not Be Asked in Philadelphia to Vote Their Consciences

Here is a safe bet. Nobody at the Democrat party convention will be invited to make a speech wherein they refuse to endorse Hillary Clinton and instead urge the delegates to vote their conscience. For all the controversy and hot air that Ted Cruz’s convention speech has generated, it also demonstrates a fundamental difference between the Democrat and Republican parties, even in the age of Trump. Republicans, Trump included, more so than Democrats, are open to uncomfortable ideas, willing to evaluate evidence, and suspicious of dogma. Democrats on the other hand regard leftist dogmas as inviolate, reject objective evidence that contradicts it, and consider uncomfortable ideas akin to violent physical aggression. Regardless whether Donald Trump cleverly set up Ted Cruz to deliver his non-endorsement speech, the fact that Trump and the Republican Party allowed it at all is commendable, and almost certainly something we will not see next week in Philadelphia.

Cruz’s refusal to endorse Trump is either commendable or vain and disloyal depending on one’s view. NeverTrumpers are hailing Cruz as a hero of sorts, despite his many flaws. The Weekly Standard calls it a stand for constitutional conservativism, to which I’m sympathetic, but it is water under the bridge. Republican voters thought otherwise, Hillary is the alternative, and that’s the end of it. And of course, they must explain away and excuse Cruz’s early support of Trump, at a critical time when had he attacked Trump as he did at the convention, the businessman’s campaign might have foundered. Cruz is attacking a phenomenon he helped create out of political expediency -- now and then.

Now imagine if a speaker at the Democrat convention urged delegates to vote their consciences, in the traditional meaning of the word, based upon universal ethical principles, e.g., it is wrong to lie, to steal, to bear false witness, to covet. Would Hillary get a vote?

But two things protect her. Firstly, Democrats in general, and particularly Democrat activists, reject traditional principles of morality, embodied as they are in archaic ideas that the unenlightened masses cling to, like religion. Leftists fundamentally reject traditional moral principles as they interfere with the amassing of power.

Of course, it is true that throughout much of history entrenched aristocratic elites used religion and supposed moral prerogatives to maintain power and enrich themselves. A bad answer to this problem was the annihilation of traditional elites and with them religion and traditional ideas of morality, which happened in much of Europe, Asia, and Africa. This “solution” generally only brings greater tyranny and suffering to the masses, but which is the preferred doctrinaire leftist approach.

More inventive Western societies, led by the United States, have managed, however imperfectly, to reconcile traditional morality with personal liberty and democracy. That sticks in the craw of the left, which in its modern American form uses the liberty and the power balances of democracy to undermine it at every turn. In this endeavor, the personal foibles of committed ideologues, particularly those who are adept at manipulating the levers of power, mean little or nothing.

The chief moral principle of the doctrinaire leftist, which is to say the Democrat party in its current form, is achieving power and placing the levers of power in the hands of properly indoctrinated elites. These elites will then instruct the masses as to what is best for them collectively. That is their overriding ethic. By this standard it doesn’t matter whether the elites in question themselves abide by traditional ethics -- in fact doing so is regarded as transgressive. Part of the Clintons’ very attraction to the left is their moral corruption, which offends the masses, but which more “sophisticated” people regard as a nuisance at worst, bohemian joie de vivre at best.

The second reason nobody will urge a vote of conscience at the Democrat convention is related to the Clinton quality that the left respects the most -- that they indeed have their fingers on the levers of power and money, and are ruthless in their use.

Donald Trump may or may not have ambushed Cruz with the kind of reality television psycho-drama in which he is well practiced. But even assuming that is the case, it takes a kind of personal and intellectual tolerance to pull it off. Trump’s comment after Cruz’s speech was that it was “no big deal”, and whether he meant it or not, pulled it off easily, despite accusations that Trump is thin skinned.

Try to imagine Hillary Clinton doing the same thing in the wake of such a speech at the Democrat convention. “What difference does it make?” she might whine, but in doing so revealing that in fact it does make a big difference.

But of course it will not happen. While it is true that most Democrat convention delegates would not let their consciences, such as they are, interfere with a vote for Hillary, such a speech would still be extremely awkward and uncomfortable for the Democrat, in ways that it is not for Trump. And while Bernie Sanders’ erstwhile supporters are arguably further left than Hillary, they are also generally younger, more naïve, and less inured to the uncomfortable reality that their party leaders are, for the most part -- how can I put it delicately -- money-grubbing liars and cheats. Being reminded of that by a prominent speaker in their own house is far too dangerous, indeed unthinkable.

Plus, even the Democrat-supporting mainstream media would not be able to avoid critically reporting such a comment in an important speech. They have been quite questionably trumpeting Cruz’s comments as a disaster to party unity, with more openly left-leaning outlets calling it (inaccurately) humiliating. As such, they could not credibly downplay such a comment as anything less than that for Hillary, at a time when her campaign is already flagging.  

To ask Democrat delegates to vote their consciences would be, to use a generally meaningless throwaway phrase that the left is fond of -- to speak truth to power. But in that situation it would actually have some very specific meaning and potential consequence. So it will never happen. 

Here is a safe bet. Nobody at the Democrat party convention will be invited to make a speech wherein they refuse to endorse Hillary Clinton and instead urge the delegates to vote their conscience. For all the controversy and hot air that Ted Cruz’s convention speech has generated, it also demonstrates a fundamental difference between the Democrat and Republican parties, even in the age of Trump. Republicans, Trump included, more so than Democrats, are open to uncomfortable ideas, willing to evaluate evidence, and suspicious of dogma. Democrats on the other hand regard leftist dogmas as inviolate, reject objective evidence that contradicts it, and consider uncomfortable ideas akin to violent physical aggression. Regardless whether Donald Trump cleverly set up Ted Cruz to deliver his non-endorsement speech, the fact that Trump and the Republican Party allowed it at all is commendable, and almost certainly something we will not see next week in Philadelphia.

Cruz’s refusal to endorse Trump is either commendable or vain and disloyal depending on one’s view. NeverTrumpers are hailing Cruz as a hero of sorts, despite his many flaws. The Weekly Standard calls it a stand for constitutional conservativism, to which I’m sympathetic, but it is water under the bridge. Republican voters thought otherwise, Hillary is the alternative, and that’s the end of it. And of course, they must explain away and excuse Cruz’s early support of Trump, at a critical time when had he attacked Trump as he did at the convention, the businessman’s campaign might have foundered. Cruz is attacking a phenomenon he helped create out of political expediency -- now and then.

Now imagine if a speaker at the Democrat convention urged delegates to vote their consciences, in the traditional meaning of the word, based upon universal ethical principles, e.g., it is wrong to lie, to steal, to bear false witness, to covet. Would Hillary get a vote?

But two things protect her. Firstly, Democrats in general, and particularly Democrat activists, reject traditional principles of morality, embodied as they are in archaic ideas that the unenlightened masses cling to, like religion. Leftists fundamentally reject traditional moral principles as they interfere with the amassing of power.

Of course, it is true that throughout much of history entrenched aristocratic elites used religion and supposed moral prerogatives to maintain power and enrich themselves. A bad answer to this problem was the annihilation of traditional elites and with them religion and traditional ideas of morality, which happened in much of Europe, Asia, and Africa. This “solution” generally only brings greater tyranny and suffering to the masses, but which is the preferred doctrinaire leftist approach.

More inventive Western societies, led by the United States, have managed, however imperfectly, to reconcile traditional morality with personal liberty and democracy. That sticks in the craw of the left, which in its modern American form uses the liberty and the power balances of democracy to undermine it at every turn. In this endeavor, the personal foibles of committed ideologues, particularly those who are adept at manipulating the levers of power, mean little or nothing.

The chief moral principle of the doctrinaire leftist, which is to say the Democrat party in its current form, is achieving power and placing the levers of power in the hands of properly indoctrinated elites. These elites will then instruct the masses as to what is best for them collectively. That is their overriding ethic. By this standard it doesn’t matter whether the elites in question themselves abide by traditional ethics -- in fact doing so is regarded as transgressive. Part of the Clintons’ very attraction to the left is their moral corruption, which offends the masses, but which more “sophisticated” people regard as a nuisance at worst, bohemian joie de vivre at best.

The second reason nobody will urge a vote of conscience at the Democrat convention is related to the Clinton quality that the left respects the most -- that they indeed have their fingers on the levers of power and money, and are ruthless in their use.

Donald Trump may or may not have ambushed Cruz with the kind of reality television psycho-drama in which he is well practiced. But even assuming that is the case, it takes a kind of personal and intellectual tolerance to pull it off. Trump’s comment after Cruz’s speech was that it was “no big deal”, and whether he meant it or not, pulled it off easily, despite accusations that Trump is thin skinned.

Try to imagine Hillary Clinton doing the same thing in the wake of such a speech at the Democrat convention. “What difference does it make?” she might whine, but in doing so revealing that in fact it does make a big difference.

But of course it will not happen. While it is true that most Democrat convention delegates would not let their consciences, such as they are, interfere with a vote for Hillary, such a speech would still be extremely awkward and uncomfortable for the Democrat, in ways that it is not for Trump. And while Bernie Sanders’ erstwhile supporters are arguably further left than Hillary, they are also generally younger, more naïve, and less inured to the uncomfortable reality that their party leaders are, for the most part -- how can I put it delicately -- money-grubbing liars and cheats. Being reminded of that by a prominent speaker in their own house is far too dangerous, indeed unthinkable.

Plus, even the Democrat-supporting mainstream media would not be able to avoid critically reporting such a comment in an important speech. They have been quite questionably trumpeting Cruz’s comments as a disaster to party unity, with more openly left-leaning outlets calling it (inaccurately) humiliating. As such, they could not credibly downplay such a comment as anything less than that for Hillary, at a time when her campaign is already flagging.  

To ask Democrat delegates to vote their consciences would be, to use a generally meaningless throwaway phrase that the left is fond of -- to speak truth to power. But in that situation it would actually have some very specific meaning and potential consequence. So it will never happen.