There isn’t a more dignified or professional politician in America than House Speaker Paul Ryan. He is principled, he is dignified, he is an idealist, he is a man of conviction … and he does not deserve all the flak he’s been taking from far too many media blowhards for announcing that he will vote for Donald Trump in November.
What’s been forgotten in all the day-after rhetoric is that Ryan has not compromised on his principles. What the critics are ignoring is that he tried to rise above the fray a few weeks ago, when Trump went from frontrunner to presumptive nominee in the GOP presidential race.
Ryan, the nation’s top-ranking Republican, easily could have given Trump a rubber-stamp endorsement right then and there and gone along for the ride. But he didn’t, because Ryan is a uniter, not a divider, and he recognizes the importance of creating unity in the Republican Party as well as in the United States of America.
At the time, the speaker took a calculated approach, saying he wasn’t ready to endorse Trump because he needed to know more about the billionaire businessman’s positions on key policy issues. Ryan wanted to be certain, as he wrote in his hometown newspaper on Thursday, that Trump shared his “positive, optimistic vision for a more confident America.”
Paul Ryan is a uniter, not a divider, and he recognizes the importance of creating unity in the Republican Party as well as in the United States of America.
“That’s why, when he sealed the nomination, I could not offer my support for Donald Trump before discussing policies and basic principles,” he wrote.
Ryan wanted to be confident that Trump would seek to “bring together all wings of the Republican Party as well as appeal to most Americans.” And it wasn’t until he met with Trump and discussed the House policy agenda and “the common ground this agenda can represent,” “how the House can be a driver of policy ideas” and “how important these reforms are to saving our country” that Ryan could endorse him.
Trump, meanwhile, needed the speaker’s support for several reasons:
? Ryan exemplifies the character and tone Trump will need to represent the true spirit of the country. Bombast has taken him this far, but it’s unlikely to carry him to the finish line. More importantly, it will significantly damage the perception of the U.S. in the global arena.
? Ryan’s effort to rally support from all factions of the Republican party will provide an important lesson for Trump as he picks his running mate. He needs a Republican Joe Biden, someone who gets along with others, has legislative experience and knows how to work to get laws passed on Capitol Hill.
? Ryan’s greatest strength is his understanding of economics, numbers and policy. He’s a wonk, and he’s proud of it. Trump’s campaign slogans regarding economic reform, health care and other key issues have lacked substance so far, and he will need to show that he has Ryan’s knowledge of economics and policy as he woos undecided voters. Whether he’s talking about how much it will cost to build a giant wall along our border with Mexico, or what it will take in terms of changing trade policies with other countries, Trump’s credibility will no longer be measured in decibels. Now that he’s the candidate, it will be the details that count.
It’s also noteworthy that Ryan has not offered Trump a blank check of support. “It’s no secret that he and I have our differences,” he wrote. “I won’t pretend otherwise. And when I feel the need to, I’ll continue to speak my mind. But the reality is, on the issues that make up our agenda, we have more common ground than disagreement.”
Perhaps this will keep Trump in check when he talks about banning Muslim immigrants, or when he castigates judges because of their ethnicity.
When Bill Clinton was president and Newt Gingrich was speaker, there were plenty of conversations in the center aisle. But two decades later, efforts to reconcile political differences appear to have vanished.
Paul Ryan is trying hard to bring harmony back to Capitol Hill. He has demonstrated that, despite differences and disagreements, there is an opportunity to create alignments that can work through issues.
The speaker’s endorsement of Trump is a reaffirmation of the kind of leadership we need to achieve unity. Nobody should be chastising him for seeking middle ground.
As Ryan has said, politics should be a battle of ideas, not insults. And it should be about solutions. The speaker is clearly focused on creating a better future for our children and our grandchildren, without alienating anyone in the process.