A Good Boo Boo

July 21, 2016

At the 1964 Republican National Convention that nominated Barry Goldwater for president, two prominent Republicans - Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield and New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller - found themselves booed and heckled by the Goldwater crowd. The two dared to denounce the extremism of the racist John Birch Society. Rockefeller, who refused to endorse Goldwater, seemed to relish the booing. He stood firm, taunted the crowd, and then ended with triumphant waving as if walking off the stage to a standing ovation.

"I had the time of my life," he announced the next morning.

Some blamed Rockefeller and other moderate Republicans for Goldwater's landslide loss, but Goldwater lost for being too extreme. A decade later, Rockefeller became vice president of the United States.

(screenshot from video stream of Ted Cruz speaking)
Last night at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, we saw perhaps the most significant booing moment at a GOP convention since 1964. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, the runner-up in the presidential campaign, gave a prime-time address and refused to endorse Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

"And to those listening, please, don’t stay home in November," Cruz declared. "Stand, and speak, and vote your conscience. Vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution."

When Cruz said "vote your conscience," which is a key phrase of the conservative opposition to Trump, pro-Trump delegates started booing. Cruz continued undeterred. By the end of his speech, boos dominated the area. The moment almost seemed like a scene of mob hysteria found in Acts 19.


I've stood in the large amphitheater in Ephesus described in Acts 19. It must have been quite a terrifying moment. But it reminds us that loud, angry crowds aren't always - and perhaps not even usually - right. There are worse things than being booed. Jesus taught us that.

What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

Cruz seemed to hold to this idea this morning while offering a defense of his non-endorsement.

"This is not a game," he said. "Right and wrong matter."

"What does it say when you stand up and say, 'vote your conscience,' and rabid supporters of our nominee begin screaming, 'what a horrible thing to say!'" Cruz added. "If we can't make the case to the American people that voting for our party's nominee is consistent with voting your conscience, is consistent with defending freedom and being faithful to the constitution, then we are not going to win, and we don't deserve to win."

I strongly disagree with much of Cruz's politics (like his calls for carpet-bombing that would kill innocent civilians, his inaccurate demonizing of refugees, his support for building a wall and other policies that would make life difficult for immigrants, and more). But I admire his willingness to stand for principles over party - even if it means getting booed. Cruz's stand shames those who put aside their principles to endorse a thrice-married casino mogul known for vulgarity, racism, and bigotry. Yes, there are worse things than being booed.

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