The House Speaker is about to endorse Donald Trump—it’s a move that he has to make, and a move could derail his political future.
Paul Ryan made it very clear for months that he was not ready to enthusiastically hop on the Trump bandwagon like some other members of his party. He was clearly hoping/banking on a busted axle or a spooked horse, but the stagecoach de-Trump kept calamitously clattering on towards Cleveland. So now, Paul Ryan, the current Speaker of the House and one of the leaders of the GOP is in quite a pickle. Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee; it’s now a fait accompli. So Ryan needs to either stick to his earlier claims and go against his party’s nominee or, do an about face and fall in line.
He’s clearly opting for the latter, which is the lower-risk/lower-reward choice.
Ryan is now placing his political future in the (tiny) hands of a man he clearly does not agree with or respect. If Trump is able to pivot successfully and distance himself from a historically vacuous primary campaign and run a -at least- moderately successful presidential campaign, the damage to Ryan could be minimal. But, if the Trump campaign continues along the same road, offending and alienating large swaths of voters in each successive month, and culminating in a landslide loss to Hillary Clinton, Ryan’s future could be in doubt. In this scenario, his hedging via waiting to endorse and initially speaking out against Trump, could help when he inevitably attempts to distance himself from the campaign. But will it be enough? If the Trump campaign crashes and burns will Ryan by able to spin away from the flames without being tarnished by the ashes for the rest of his career? Certain prominent GOP members believe the Trump stain will be indelible. It’s impossible to say for sure at this point, even in politics time tends to heal certain wounds and misgivings—but it won’t be an easy road to redemption.
Of course, if Trump wins, Ryan’s support—even if its blatantly half-hearted—should be sufficient in terms of status maintenance within the party.
On the other end, going against Trump is a far riskier proposition. It may be the ideological, heart-guided choice, but standing in opposition to one’s own party is never an easy task. It’s the much higher-risk/much higher-reward option. The, love the players, hate the coach approach is a tight rope walk that nearly always ends in a plummet. But…but, if Trump does flare-out fantastically, and Ryan remains steadfast in his refusal to endorse him, he would be sitting there when the smoke clears as the, “I told you so” voice of reason—the unbend-able, stoic conservative who let his heart be his guide.
It’s all too Hollywood for DC.
Paul Ryan’s political aspirations are being torn apart by elephants, and his decision to ride the the wave with everyone else could serve as a pivotal moment in his career. The livelihood of many politicians now hang in the balance teetering on the validity of the Trump campaign, praying for -at the very least- a respectable loss come November.
by Jesse Mechanic