Sasse has been very demonstrative in his resistance to Trump since 2016 — so much so that some vociferously anti-Trump conservatives had hoped he would challenge Trump in 2016 or in the 2020 primary. Most of Sasse’s critiques of Trump have been true, important, and eloquent. But unlike other conservatives who dislike Trump’s comportment and rhetoric and who disagree with him on many policies, a U.S. senator has a vote with which to check the president. And on Thursday, Sasse, also up for re-election in 2020 in a very Trump-friendly state, made it clear he would limit himself to symbolic and rhetorical resistance to Trump’s excesses and defense of the Constitution. (He’ll do so eloquently, we’re sure.)
And then, there’s Cruz. He came to town as a tireless and fearless anti-establishment fighter and constitutional conservative. He shut down the government in 2013 to show his dedication to opposing Obamacare and to expose the rest of his party’s hypocrisy on the issue.
But the Trump era has shown us a different Cruz: a man who is extraordinary in his manner but less so in his motivations. Cruz understood that Trump saw this vote as a loyalty test, and he wasn’t about to get himself on the wrong side of power.