In a towering display of self-serving arrogance, Ted Cruz unofficially opened his 2020 White House bid by refusing to endorse Republican nominee Donald Trump in Cleveland. The Texas senator poured gasoline all over the stage at Quicken Loans Arena and then dropped a match, splitting the GOP and delivering a yuuuge gift to Hillary Clinton. The manner in which Cruz shanked Trump in the back – urging the crowd to vote their conscience – is a damning piece of circumstantial evidence that Cruz was an active player in the efforts by Kendal Unruh and others to topple their own candidate all along.

Politico reports that “Cruz burns Trump”:

Ted Cruz refused to endorse Donald Trump in daring and dramatic fashion on Wednesday, telling Republicans to “vote your conscience” in a 20-minute snub that played out in slow-motion on national television.

Cruz’s rejection exposed the raw rifts still festering inside the Republican Party, overshadowed the planned coming-out speech for Trump’s vice presidential pick, Mike Pence, and all-but-guaranteed that Republicans would depart Cleveland a party divided.

Boos rained down on Cruz and his wife had to be escorted from the hall amid verbal taunts in an unreal scene that marked an end to a surreal primary season.

The Trump campaign made a huge mistake in not rescinding Tricky Ted’s invite to speak in light of Monday’s quelled uprising and now they are going to pay for it. The media will use Cruz’s nationally televised middle finger to Trump as a narrative to bolster Clinton and Cruz will become an establishment hero if she goes on to win the election and maintain their control on the party.

“We deserve leaders who stand for principle, who unite us all behind shared values, who cast aside anger for love,” Cruz said. “That is the standard we should expect from everybody.”

It was a standard that Cruz determined Trump did not meet.

“Don’t stay home in November,” Cruz told the audience. “Stand and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution.”

But he wouldn’t say Trump’s name.

In doing so, Cruz handed Hillary Clinton and the Democrats a potentially devastating cudgel of a slogan — “vote your conscience” — with which to hammer Trump all the way through November. Clinton grabbed it immediately, tweeting the phrase and a link to a voter registration page.

The only possible benefit that may come from Cruz’s grandstanding is that it is now beyond any reasonable argument that he is only about himself and to hell with the country. If a fragmented party leads to Mrs. Clinton winning the White House and being able to appoint three or four Supreme Court justices the damage to this country will be irreversible.

The boos that rained down on the petulant runner-up show that he has become the king of the R.A.T.’s and will forever be despised by millions as a Judas but he will be adored by the scurvy pack of insurgents who are only interested in carving out protection for their own ability to leech off of the system. The Never Trumpers can now either get behind a third-party candidate like faux libertarian Gary Johnson or even endorse Hillary now in a suicide bid to keep the Donald out of Washington. The establishment led by Cruz is already moving on to 2020, we will see whether voters follow them.