That’s the enduring lesson of the Ted Cruz fiasco. No matter how bold and principled a politician seems, no matter how smart he is, no matter how much he seems ready and eager to fight—at the end of the day, you can’t trust him. You can’t trust his integrity, you can’t trust his courage, you can’t trust his wisdom, and you can’t even trust his prudence or shrewdness, because at some point every politician sees the polls or the donors going against him and panics.
I have summed this up as the First Commandment of the Right: “Place not thy faith in politicians.” (I thought it had nice biblical overtones, and one of my conservative friends pointed out that it’s just an updated version of a line from Psalm 146: “Put not your trust in princes.”)
This means we should stop looking for saviors and strongmen or people who promise us that only they can solve all of our problems. We don’t need better politicians. We need to stop giving them so much power over our lives. That’s what makes the case for small government. Men who aren’t good enough to stick to their principles until the end of an election season aren’t good enough to make the thousands of other decisions about our lives that they presume to make.