Ted Cruz’s Machiavellian Decision to Drop Out (The Ethics Sage!)

Ted Cruz’s Machiavellian Decision to Drop Out

(This is a guest post by my friend, Steven Mintz, The Ethics Sage.)

The Ethics Sage
The Ethics Sage

Ted Cruz’s fellow senators believe he is selfish. They believe he is out for his own good and that he has had aspirations to be President of the United States since his election to the Senate from Texas just four years ago. Last week we witnessed that selfishness when Cruz dropped out of the Republican primary.

Just six days prior he brought Carly Fiorina aboard to be his choice for vice president. He threw Fiorina under the bus. A very competent and spiritual woman, Fiorina gave it her heart and soul albeit for less than a week. Cruz used Fiorina only as long as it benefited him. The decision to drop out six days later smacks of thoughtless behavior. Ted Cruz is the ultimate egoist who acts in his own self-interest.

Just one week before the Indiana primary, Ted Cruz and John Kasich drew up a pact that Kasich would not actively politic in Indiana while Cruz agreed to not do the same in states such as Oregon and New Mexico. Once Cruz dropped out, Kasich had no other choice but to drop out. He also forfeited the opportunity to compete in Indiana. Cruz used Kasich as long as he needed to and then threw him under the bus.

What about his donors who gave about $80 million to the campaign? Didn’t they deserve better? Didn’t they deserve more loyalty to the cause. Didn’t they expect Cruz to be a man of integrity when they agreed to support him? Whatever happened to the pledge to stay in the race until Cleveland and win a floor battle after Trump failed to garner enough delegates on the first ballot?

The irony is that Cruz ran as a principled conservative and violated many ethical principles along the way including honesty, integrity, and responsibility. He abandoned many supporters when he decided it was no longer in his interests to pursue the Presidency. No rational person could say he did it for the good of the party, a noble motivation.

Cruz’s behavior illustrates a common problem in workplace ethics. Egoistic leaders attract supporters to the cause because they promise so much but in the end many fail to deliver. In other words, they are not true leaders and their followers abandon ship or are thrown overboard.

Political ethics may be an oxymoron today but that wasn’t always the case. It used to be a high calling to serve the people and place their interests above all else. Cruz’s decisions and actions illustrate the decline in political morality just as there has been a decline in morality in society.

I searched for a parallel from history to characterize Cruz’s actions. I found one in Machiavellianism. It is the employment of cunning and duplicity in statecraft or in general conduct. The word comes from the Italian Renaissance diplomat and writer Niccolò Machiavelli, who wrote The Prince, among other works.

His cunning in politics is well known. On September 24, 2013, Ted Cruz finally released his grip on the Senate floor after more than 21 hours of speaking about the need to defund Obamacare. The Texas Republican had seized control of the Senate floor vowing to “speak in support of defunding Obamacare until I am no longer able to stand.” This was the self-interest motivated act that created dislike for Cruz for many Republican senators and why so few supported his candidacy.

In modern psychology, Machiavellianism is one of the dark triad personalities, characterized by a duplicitous interpersonal style, a cynical disregard for morality and a focus on self-interest and personal gain. As far as Cruz is concerned these traits fit his personal style to a “t.” Perhaps the dark triad is too strong but it may explain why he isn’t a likeable sort. The self-interest and personal gain characteristics are a perfect fit.

Our politicians have let us down so often in the past perhaps we should not be surprised by Cruz. The way he abruptly dropped without considering the consequences of his actions on others – many who had deeply believed he was a principled conservative – speaks volumes about the character of the man and just how far politicians have slide down the proverbial ethical slippery slope with no hope of climbing back up and regaining the high road.

By Dr. Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage.