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Sen. Ted Cruz is not just a pompous, holier-than-thou politician who thinks most of America is beneath him; he is the very thing that was wrong with the Republican Party. And after the former presidential hopeful crashed and burned in Cleveland, Republicans can only hope Cruz — and those like him — never return from exile.

In Cleveland there was a Republican rebirth. This rebirth was not political, but principled — one that altered the soul of the GOP.

Like a kidney stone that had to pass, the 2016 GOP primary was brutal — but it had to be. Since George H.W. Bush colluded with Democrats to raise taxes in the 1990s, the Republican Party has been off-course.

It was during this time two key factions have controlled the Republican Party — the Religious Right, which often confused the Bible with a billy club, and a neoconservative establishment that squandered America's wealth with unnecessary wars and lousy trade deals. This dynamic duo ruined the party and the nation in the name of God and hegemonic hubris.

The North American Free Trade Agreement gutted manufacturing, while Iraq bankrupted the nation. As the nation saw its wealth transferred to Third World despots and international adversaries, the Religious Right continually provided neoconservatives cover by using sex and marriage as a diversion.

The result? Iraq opened the floodgates of international terror; the Trans Pacific Partnership — which establishment Republicans fought to resurrect — seeks to crush what is left of U.S. manufacturing, and special interests got rich over culture-war politics.

This message, however, was rejected in Cleveland. When Donald Trump took to the stage to accept the Republican nomination, he put the GOP — and the nation — on notice that Republicanism as they knew it changed.

"I pledge to never sign any trade agreement that hurts our workers, or that diminishes our freedom and independence," Trump thundered. "America first again."

Free trade was dead on arrival, and the economic nationalism of Abe Lincoln — the original Republican — was restored. Trump, though, had more.

"We must abandon the failed policy of nation-building and regime change that Hillary Clinton pushed in Iraq, Libya, in Egypt and Syria," Trump said. Hillary, though, was not the only one who pushed nation-building.

George W. Bush made nation-building the center piece of his presidency. Not only was Bush absent from the convention, but his foreign policy was absent from the hearts of the convention-goers.

And while free-traders and interventionists might balk about the changes, history shows that Trump's policies are rooted in traditional Republicanism. Trump was not transforming the GOP, but merely rebooting the faith of its fathers.

Trump, though, did chart his own course in Cleveland; a course that welcomed LGBT Americans. It was historic.

"As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology," Trump said. The convention hall erupted in cheers, prompting Trump to say, "I have to say, as a Republican, it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said."

It was not too long ago that in 1992 the Republicans had declared a culture war against some aspects of the LGBT community at its convention in Houston. Twenty-four years later, Trump recognized the culture war was not against the gays; it was against a radical Islam that targets gays.

Naysayers point to a GOP platform as evidence that the GOP is still anti-LGBT, but that is poppycock. A party's platform is political Charmin, the place where losers go. It is where the Religious Right went in 2016.

Cleveland proved that the Republican Party is reborn and, as with any rebirth, some folks don't make it. John Kasich, the Bush dynasty and crybaby Cruz are all collateral damage. They are part of a small group that hides its defeat behind "principles."

As a gay Republican who supported the America First message of Pat Buchanan, I was told for years to suck it up and support the GOP nominee. I did.

Now that the shoe is on the other foot, these "Republicans" want to stand on a "principle" that places Clinton before conservatism. Good riddance.

 — Joseph R. Murray II is administrator for LGBTrump, a former campaign official for Pat Buchanan and author of "Odd Man Out."

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