May 3, 2016, was not one of the best days of my life.
I was a media surrogate for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz as he ran for president. The heady days of January and the Iowa caucus had been replaced by the grim struggle to simply stay in the race. I traveled from New Hampshire to South Carolina, to Florida, to Indiana and other places I’ve lost track of at this point.
On May 3, I flew from Indiana to Washington, D.C., to await the results of the Indiana Primary. By that point, Mr. Cruz was mathematically eliminated from possibly getting the 1,237 delegates needed to be nominated, but the campaign pushed on, hoping for a contested convention.
My orders were simple. On May 4, I was to be on major media outlets with the campaign talking points that the senator would continue the race all the way to Cleveland. But as the results began to come in on May 3, my phone and email lit up with messages from people asking me if Mr. Cruz was going to suspend his campaign.
That evening, I listened as the senator gave the message that no one who supported him wanted to hear. He would suspend his campaign, effectively giving the nomination to Donald Trump.
For me, moving to the “Never Trump” camp was easy. I did not like the way the senator, his wife and his father had been treated during the campaign. Further, I did not believe Mr. Trump could unite conservative voters and win and even if by some miracle he did win, I had no confidence he would govern as a conservative.
Many of my friends jumped on the Trump train. Some were militant Trump supporters and on a few occasions, friendships ended because of the passion on both sides. Many of my friends pointed out that Mr. Trump was the Republican nominee and was the only way to stop Hillary Clinton from getting to the White House. My response was, stopping Mrs. Clinton was very important, but no one had convinced me that Mr. Trump was a conservative. What good would it be if it were a Republican liberal in the White House?
By the time Nov. 8 rolled around, I still had no idea who I was going to vote for. Alternative presidential candidates Gary Johnson and Evan McMullin were jokes. I threatened to vote for a Labrador retriever who had an Instagram account about running for president.
After voting on Nov. 8, I went home and waited. By early evening, it was obvious the media hype was wrong and Mrs. Clinton was not going to sweep the election. After looking at raw data, by 10 p.m., I told friends on social media that Mr. Trump would be the 45th president a couple of hours before the networks called the race.
Now that Mr. Trump was the president-elect, what would happen?
The results were stunning.
There is a saying in Washington, “Personnel is policy.” President-elect Trump’s personnel choices were incredible. They weren’t perfect, as no one is going to completely agree about those choices. However, there was little there for conservatives to complain about.
Since taking office, President Trump has been nothing short of spectacular. He froze public sector hiring, he vowed to destroy the Islamic State terror group, and he pulled the U.S. out of the Trans Pacific Partnership. He issued an executive order directing the government to block the admission of people from six nations into the United States. After eight years of a president who aided and abetted our enemies, the change was refreshing.
Since the election, Mr. Trump’s actions have changed me from being Never Trump to a huge supporter of his.
There are still some in the conservative movement who are Never Trump. They fill social media and some websites with a never ending stream of criticism. No one is immune to criticism and President Trump is certain not perfect, but if we look at what conservatives have wanted for the last forty years, we are getting it now.
In the months that followed that horrible day in May last year, I have wondered what would have happened if history had been different. What would have happened had Mr. Cruz ended up as the nominee? Assuming he would have defeated Mrs. Clinton (which he would have done), I’ve wondered what a Cruz administration would look like and what would he be doing as president?
If Mr. Cruz were president today, the Supreme Court nominee might well be Utah Sen. Mike Lee and not Judge Neil Gorsuch. But beyond that, it is difficult to see how a Cruz administration would be much different from President Trump’s administration.
In the months since the primary ended, Mr. Cruz has worked beyond the anger and bitterness that are a part of the campaign and today is one of the leaders in the Senate in pushing the Trump Agenda.
Today, conservatives have an opportunity we have only dreamed about for the last 40 years. As a former Never Trumper, here is my confession: I was wrong.
Turns out, Mr. Trump is governing as a conservative. As promised when he kicked off his campaign in June 2015, we are winning and unlike his prediction, I don’t think any of us are going to get tired of it.
What more could conservatives want?