Why that meme of Ted Cruz phone-banking for Trump is so sad, not that you should feel sorry for him

For a brief, uncomfortable moment this summer, Americans everywhere experienced a feeling they had never previously known: admiration for failed Republican presidential candidate and known homophobe Ted Cruz, when he humiliated Donald Trump by refusing to endorse the nominee at the GOP convention. However, months later, Cruz did a complete 180 and endorsed Trump in a lengthy AF Facebook post, which probably no one actually fully read. That former admiration has since been buried beneath equal parts laughter and pity after degrading footage of Cruz phone-banking for Trump and looking completely miserable quickly turned into a meme.

As Cruz has apparently been campaigning behind closed doors for Trump, former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has been vocally campaigning for and alongside Democratic nominee and former rival Hillary Clinton. Sure, with every appearance there’s a bunch of outraged “Jill not Hill” and “Bernie or Bust” fellows protesting while perched atop their high horses to chastise Sanders for “selling out” to “the lesser of two evils.”

But Sanders has evaded the same mockery and degradation Cruz has been subjected to for pretty much doing the same thing, only a lot more openly and enthusiastically. But why? Aside from Trump’s clearly bigoted nature, it’s all in the context, really, so let’s examine.

Not only did Sanders’ platform on tuition-free public college and universal healthcare move Clinton to develop similar plans of her own, but the former Democratic presidential hopeful additionally worked with Clinton to craft those plans. His push for paths to full marijuana legalization, a $15 minimum wage, the expansion of Social Security benefits, stricter sanctions for Wall Street fraud, opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and other populist economic measures were all defining points of the Democratic Party’s platform, which he and his appointees had a significant hand in writing. Sanders only conceded to Clinton after gaining all kinds of concessions from Clinton and the rest of the party, along with formidable political influence to continue his movement, which he knows would be impossible under President Trump.

Additionally, there is Sanders’ promise to hold Clinton accountable and continue to challenge her on progressive issues; by collaborating with Sanders and adopting his plans, Clinton has shown the public that she has some semblance of respect for Sanders.

Speaking of respect (or in this case, an extreme lack of it), that takes us to the circumstances around Cruz’s campaigning for Trump. Clinton never called Sanders a “pussy” or “Lyin’ Bern,” nor did she “spill the beans” on Sanders’ wife or suggest that Sanders’ place of birth made him unqualified to run. She never went on late night Twitter rants against Sanders or mocked him for being booed at the convention. If all of this sounds familiar, it’s because this is exactly what Trump subjected Cruz to.

Additionally, where Trump has yet to even acknowledge Cruz’s endorsement of him, let alone apologize for all the shitty, degrading things he said of his former rival, Clinton has campaigned alongside Sanders. Clinton and Sanders’ amenable, respectful relationship could, obviously, all be a mere show, but it’s a fairly convincing one, and at the very least, Sanders isn’t submitting to someone who relentlessly bullied him in front of the nation for a year (just in emails to her staff).

The bottomline is that where Sanders’ support and campaigning for Clinton came with numerous important concessions from both Clinton and their party, Trump has changed nothing to win Cruz over, nor reached out to Cruz to collaborate or expressed any gratitude or regret for past wrongs. And yet, for all his emphasis on principle and voting with your conscience, just a couple months later, here Cruz is, pitifully phone-banking for the Republican nominee.

Cruz essentially gave in to his bully and is now too scared to retract his endorsement. Keep on phone-bankin’, buddy.