Donald Trump

Paul Ryan's Promise to Back the GOP Nominee Shows How Republican Loyalists Enable Donald Trump

The House Speaker opposes Trump's ideas, but says he'll support the Republican nominee.

| / Foter

With Donald Trump poised to take a commanding lead in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, one of the big open questions is how the rest of the party will react. A movement against Trump, dubbed #NeverTrump, has taken hold in some circles, and at least one Republican legislator, Sen. Ben Sasse, has said that he'll bolt the party if Trump takes the nomination.

This morning, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan provided a preview of how many Republicans will react to the prospect of Donald Trump winning the GOP presidential nomination. In a statement to the media, Ryan forcefully critcized Trump's refusal to disavow the support of former Ku Klux Klan head David Duke, but did not call out Trump by name, and said that he would support whoever wins the nomination. (Trump later disavowed Duke's endorsement, but white supremacists think the disavowal was insincere.) 

"This party does not prey on people's prejudices," Ryan said, according to The Washington Post, adding that the subject of "white supremacists" should not cause GOP politicians to engage in any sort of "evasion."

"When I see something that runs counter to who we are as a party and as a country, I will speak up, so today I want to be very clear about something," Ryan said. "If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican Party, there can be no evasion and no games. They must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry. This party does not prey on people's prejudices. We appeal to their highest ideals. This is the party of Lincoln."

This was a strong and clear statement in implicit opposition to Trump, and Ryan deserves credit for making it so forcefully. And yet Ryan also admitted that he will back whoever is on the GOP ticket. "My plan is to support the nominee," he said.

Note Ryan's careful two-step response—rejecting Trump's ideas, but promising to support Trump anyway if he becomes the nominee. Ryan is rightfully repulsed by Trump's response to questions about David Duke and the KKK, yet not so much that he would withdraw his support from the man. Note too that Ryan is engaging in a kind of evasion himself, by declining to name Trump, the object of his criticism.

This is how loyal party actors, even those who, like Ryan, are openly opposed to Trumpism and all of the ugliness that it represents, enable Trump: by attacking the man's statements, but not the man himself, and by pledging to back him should he be the nominee. 

One might reasonably respond that Ryan's support is not really for Trump, but for the Republican party. Ryan, who was the GOP's vice presidential nominee in 2012, has always served as a willing foot soldier, and as Speaker of the House, Ryan has made it clear that one of his primary goals is to unify a deeply fractured party. But that only exposes the trouble with committed partisan politics: What is the point of defending the party if it goes the way of Trump? If you don't support Trump's ideas, but you do support his candidacy, what, ultimately, is the difference? 

This is not a problem that is specific to Paul Ryan. It is a problem for the Republican party. Ryan is not the only Republican to pledge himself to Trump-as-nominee. Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch told CNN that, although Trump is not his first choice, "If he's our nominee, I'll do everything I can to elect him." In an interview with Politico, Hatch said he believed that Trump could beat Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, in a general election. "If I didn't think that," Hatch said, "I wouldn't be a very good Republican." And that, of course, is what this is about: being a good Republican. But not ensuring that Republicans are, well, any good.

Ryan has, at least, been adamant about his opposition to some of Trump's ideas. This morning was not the first time that the congressman has spoken out against Trump's statements. In December, when Trump called for a blanket ban on Muslim immigration to the United States, Ryan passionately declared, "this is not conservatism. Some of our best and biggest allies in this struggle and fight against radical Islam terror are Muslims." Ryan called out Trump's ideas for being antithetical to the Constitution, and said, "that's not who we are as a party."

That is an admirable sentiment, but the success of Trump's campaign so far suggests that it may be wrong. If Trump wins the Republican nomination, he will have proven that that's exactly who the party is. And Ryan will have agreed to bless both Trump and the party he represents with his support.

Update: A few people have suggested that Ryan left himself some wiggle room by saying, "My plan is to support the nominee." I'll grant that this is a less absolute statement than a solemn blood oath to support the GOP nominee no matter what, but it is still a signal of an intention to support the nominee, even if it is Trump, and so has the effect of giving Trump an implicit pass on party-support lines. 

NEXT: Reps Skeptical of FBI in Encryption Fight Against Apple

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Republican loyalists have enabled every terrible Republican candidate in history. Have our political IQs really reached the point where we need to report truisms?

    1. yes. On the other side, people will ignore Hillary’s sale of influence while SoS through donations to the Foundation, her numerous failures on the job, and the litany of other scandals that hang on her like the sheen of sweat and cigarette smoke that sticks to a pole dancer. But she’s THEIR dancer so out come the dollar bills.

      1. *uncontrollable vomiting*

        1. Hey, that was a sweet bit of writing by wareagle. I image of Hillary as a pole dancer may cause some mental damage, but at least it’s not SF.

          1. I = The, I can’t even..

          2. Interestingly, though, her entourage recently prevented the press from seeing her board an aircraft. Is it because she now has difficulty climbing stairs?

            1. You don’t want to know what Hillary looks like from behind.

  2. Paul Ryan’s Promise to Back the GOP Nominee Shows How Republican Loyalists Enable Donald Trump

    Fuck off. This exactly the way parties are supposed to operate. If you don’t want to back the party nominee, you can leave the party.

    So far the Republican primaries and caucuses have been drawing higher than the 2012 while the democrats are drawing lower than 2012 when Obama ran unopposed.

    The party establishment may hate Donald, but he is drawing non-traditional-voters into the party. This is supposed to be viewed as a win.

    1. Well said—-

    2. The party establishment may hate Donald, but he is drawing non-traditional-voters into the party. This is supposed to be viewed as a win.

      Who would view that as a win other than the entryists themselves?

      1. I don’t remember anyone bitching about the Reagan Democrats during 80s

      2. That was exactly my thought, Nikki.

        Oh boy, we’re attracting people to the party whose views aren’t actually in line with the party’s. … Awesome?

        1. Awesome?

          In a zero-sum game of winner take all, yeah

          1. So even though the Republican party is already watered down and generally shitty… we’re going to cheer as it gets even further from libertarianism? Ok. Enjoy your party.

            1. The only thing I’m cheering for at this point the biggest shit-show possible. Bring on the insanity.

              *buys more popcorn futures*

              1. That’s fair. It really is going to be a helluva spectacle.

                My mother actually said to me that she’s looking to vote for Trump because she’s “tired of politicians.” SMH.

              2. This. Seeing Trump on stage with Hillary will be pure gold.

            2. The alternative is Hillary getting to appoint 2-3 Supreme Court nominations and taking her corruption back into the White House.

              The pearl clutching over Trump would be more productive if there were any viable or even slightly more libertarian option in this election. There isn’t unless you want to go back to Ted Cruz who has signed onto the worst of Trump and has little chance of winning.

              So, it’s Trump or Hillary right now barring GOP shenanigans. And it’s really hard to argue that Trump is worse from a libertarian perspective than Hillary. Am I supposed to care about Trump making a mockery of the office or something? Or that he’s going to ruin relations with Mexico?

              1. We really need to make sure the wrong lizard doesn’t get in.

                1. Lol, I guess that must be the case, really.

                  I’ll probably be sitting the nationals out on this one.

            3. Enjoy your purity along with losing

        2. Lie back and enjoy the vanguardism.

          1. I do some of my best work on my back, after all.

            1. You forgot the *drops mic, walks off stage*

              1. SHE MEANT A BENCH PRESS!

                  1. My bench press is laughable. Absolutely no pics of that. Seriously, it’s not even a triple digit lift for me.

        3. like it or not, people play these things in order to win. Much like teams don’t care if they win ugly, candidates are less concerned with how they won than with actually winning.

          1. Maybe that’s the fucking problem.

            1. and you may well be write. It’s ironic – the public at large claims to hate the system but each action only serves to perpetuate it.

              1. That’s very true. Back when I had facebook, I distinctly remember seeing someone say “Their all crooks,” when talking about politics… But they still vote along party lines, etc.

          2. So the GOP thinks it’s GOT?

        4. Like libertarians, f’r instance?

  3. What is the point of defending the party if it goes the way of Trump?

    But will it go the way of Trump? As the nominee or even as president, does he have command of the GOP? The party’s House Speaker barely supports him, even hypothetically.

    1. A huge swath of the democratic party base hates Hillary.

      A huge swath of the republican party base plus a bunch of defectors from the democratic party base loves The Donald.

      It doesn’t really matter what the two party’s regulars think about the candidates does it?

      1. as it it, the parties’ regulars have much to do with the state of either side’s race.

    2. Bull-Moose 2016. Fire your history professors, they have failed you all.

  4. The House Speaker opposes Trump’s ideas, but says he’ll support the Republican nominee.

    Isn’t this boilerplate party politics?

    1. Since when does Paul Ryan have any ideas?

  5. So…tired…of Trump is the devil articles.

    1. Then maybe you should teach Trump not to be the devil.

      1. Both of you, stop. Feel the Bolshevism. Let it soothe your raging breasts.

        Preemptive Juggled.

    2. Do you have any idea how hard being a fake libertarian professional concern troll is?

      There’s still almost 250 more days to go until the election. At the going rate of about four a day, that means the Reason staff still has something like a thousand more of these suckers to crank out!

      1. Do you have any idea how hard being a fake libertarian professional concern troll is?

        No, but I’m sure you could tell us.

      2. Coddled Gay Dump.

        How did I do, Mike?

          1. Oh that works better if you include the middle initial. It is a Mikeism after all, Musty Snuggler.

            1. Whatever, Herky Mule Tater.

              1. Screw you, Fit-it-in Sex.

                1. QUIT PEEKIN’ IN MY WINDOWS HM

            2. Except musty snuggler actually works…Derpoic Gelato.

  6. “They must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry.”

    Oh Paul… do you really want to open that can of worms?

    God the self-satisfaction is repugnant.

  7. If the party in general won’t play ball then Trump is probably the best choice at this point.

    Of course they or Trump will change their tune.

  8. Democrats who support Bernie Sanders will coalesce behind Clinton, when Sanders finally bows out. If Republicans don’t get behind their eventual nominee, its going to be eight more years of Obama’s policies.
    Ryan’s doing the smart thing

  9. Who is he supposed to support?
    A: whoever his party nominates…who he can somewhat neuter legislatively
    B: someone else in his party, causing the implosion of the party, the loss of the WH, Senate and several house seats
    C: a woman who violated every FOIA law imaginable, used the government as a means to get rich through her slush fund, has actively participated in undermining a government, helped run guns from one shithole to the next and cheer leads when we drone kill innocent kids, their families and even American citizens extrajudicially

    1. You forgot D: real-life Abe Simpson.

  10. . A movement against Trump, dubbed #NeverTrump, has taken hold in some circles

    What circles would those be? Friends of the McSudermans, Beltway GOPe hacks, Reason magazine, and what used to be known derisively as TEAM RED on this very blog’s comments.

    Cosmotarian= OUT

    RINOtarian= IN

    1. You forgot all the cucks out there.

        1. Cuckquean, “anything you can do I can do better…”

          How new is this? Is this a “New York value?”

        2. Cuckotarian?

  11. This costs Ryan nothing, and is the smart move on his part. Should Trump be nominated and start saying things even more offensive that what he’s said so far, he can always revoke his endorsement, claim the moral high ground and say he wanted to support the Party’s nominee but Donald went a step too far. Should Cruz or Rubio get the nod, he still gets credit for being a good party soldier.

  12. Come on Reason, we know you want to do it.

    Put that banner “Hillary for America” right at the top of the page

  13. Bullshit!

    A farmer in Strasburg, Ohio is making a political statement with bull manure.

    Jerry Slanker tells WEWS-TV that he spent four hours hauling manure left by his 15 cows so he could spell out a giant message that reads “No Trump.” The message is wider than a football field and can be seen by airplanes passing overhead.

    “I load it in the manure spreader and haul it right through this gate,” said Slanker.

    Slanker, who is 69 years old, says he knows a lot of people might not agree with his message, but he’s just practicing his First Amendment of Freedom of Speech.

    “I know there’s a lot of people maybe not agreeing with me, but that’s their American right,” Slanker told WEWS-TV. “I just voice my opinion and not yours.”

    1. I assume this is the real Warty.

      1. Warty wouldn’t use a spreader – he’d fuck that message right into the very earth. Also, it wouldn’t be manure.

    2. If that manure could have been sold to a fertilizer manufacturer in West Virginia, he may be in violation of Federal Law because Commerce Clause.

    3. Should be Jeremy Stanker*, if you ask me.

    4. I thought flinging poo was hate speech… or something.

  14. I agree with much of what Peter says in the article, but he leaves something out that is relevant – and it’s a point that’s been made by John and others here that I think is valid.

    Ryan and the GOP establishment has been pushing candidates for years that have made a mockery of stated conservative/Republican principles, so they’ve lost all credibility to oppose Trump on the grounds that “he’s not a real Republican/conservative.” It’s a relevant point that Suderman should have included.

  15. The implications of single member districts are profound.

    Why would someone whose power depends on Republicans all over the country repudiate the Republican nominee for President?

    The Speaker of the House depends on the votes of Republicans to maintain his position as Speaker.

    If Trump wins, what do expect him to do–resign his seat in protest?

    Let’s not got too Pollyanna here.

    Single. Member. Districts. Learn it. Know it. Live it.

    1. Not only that, but he has to manage a coalition of similar members. Any other position on the issue is committing to a pissing contest in the House for the rest of the year. At least one Republican understands how it works: Victory first, then purges. Maybe the libertarian party could try that.

      1. Maybe the libertarian party could try that.


        And then the oral sex.

    2. And if Trump does win and the Republicans retain both Houses of Congress, Paul Ryan gets to dictate much the legislative agenda. So why wouldn’t he support Trump – and why would he even care that much about his stupid policy ideas?

  16. Party guy refuses to go against party. News at 11. It’s like writing a screed against the House Minority Leader for saying they will support Clinton or Sanders. Wait, who is the Minority Leader? Pelosi?

    1. Actually, that might be an interesting article. How Pelosi is willing to betray the so-called founding principles of the Democratic Party to support either a communist masquerading as a socialist or a carpet-bagging, coat-tail riding felon with no moral compass.

  17. I just saw Trump on Fox News promising to put a P90x in every DVD player across America. It explains Ryan’s sudden support for “whoever” wins the nomination.

    1. Close the thread, we have a winner.

  18. To be clear:

    Donald Trump is an immoral, unethical bastard that uses crony capitalism to build wealth while burning millions of dollars on a lavish lifestyle.

    That, however, doesn’t automatically mean he will be a worse president than Obama has been or Clinton will be.

    1. This.

      I don’t see the point of the constant anti-Trump rhetoric coming out of Reason.

  19. Team Red has an itchy bagina.

    1. You got an itchy check-writin’ finger, i hope.

    2. Your stock prognostications suck even more than your political prognostications, as Jeb Bush could attest to.

      I’d say that you should stick to your area of expertise, except you don’t have one.

      1. I’m up on my stock pick. PM is just up more. $20 to Reason, asshole.

    3. Pay up or shut up. Actually pay up AND STFU.

  20. Wherez mai lynx?

    1. After what you people have done today you do not deserve links. Serves you right.

  21. Of course, they probably wouldn’t support Ted Cruz. As Lindsey Graham recent joke about murdering him shows.

    Anyway, other than his bluster on immigration (and given his history of hiring illegals over Americans, can you believe his current stance?), Trump really isn’t that different than an establishment politician from either party. He’s going to make “deals” = more and more crony capitalism.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.