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Nelson Mandela died this week. Rest in Peace Madiba.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Tea Party darling, did what any decent human being would do in the age of Twitter… he tweeted condolences to Mandela’s family and the people of South Africa.

ImageAnd then, as they say, no good deed goes unpunished. The outpouring of hatred, bigotry and intolerance from Ted Cruz’s right-wing base flooded his Facebook page and Twitter timeline.

If you can tell a lot about a politician by the people who follow him, then the reactions from the angry, perhaps former supporters of Ted Cruz speak volumes about who he is and what his followers think of him.  Prior to Cruz’s compassionate, humane posts about the loss of a great global leader, Cruz was the standard bearer for the Tea Party and the right-wing of Texas. Now, as his (former) supporters are saying, he has revealed himself to be a commie-lover and terrorist sympathizer.

The reaction to his posts reveals that Cruz sits (sat?) atop a mountain of hate; a sea of Americans who will never forgive anyone who ever associates with their enemies, no matter to what end. Even if Mandela’s political alliances were all to serve the mission of liberating a nation of oppressed people, he remains forever tainted in the eyes of the far-right in America. And while many on the left have also leveled criticisms of Mandela, the response to Cruz was dominated by his betrayed supporters, from the right.

Meanwhile, other politicians, from the right and the left, tweeted similar sentiments. None of them got the same reaction. Not Mitt Romney. Not Paul Ryan. Not even Hillary Clinton.

Ted Cruz is the political leader the far right looks to and they found him lacking.

So take heed. You may seek to control your image by controlling what you share on social media. But in the end, you will be defined as much by how your supporters react to you as you will by your own words.

Carpe colloquium… before it seizes you.