Paul Ryan has created quite a stir amongst the media hounds and apparently with Donald Trump, and probably within the Republican Party elite. Ryan simply said “I hope to support our nominee…I’m just not there right now…We will need a standard-bearer that can unify all Republicans, all conservatives, all wings of our party.”
To which Donald Trump said “I am not ready to support Speaker Ryan’s agenda. Perhaps in the future we can work together and come to an agreement about what is best for the American people.” (Note there was no mention of party affiliation.)
What in the world is going on? Well, there are a couple of things going on. First Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is making known his feelings about party unity and common purpose and he did so publicly. Donald Trump is unaccustomed to being dealt with on an equal basis since he has, almost for his entire life, been in absolute control. That is not going to be the case if he is elected to be our next President. We do not elect kings; we do elect presidents who are one of the three parts of our governing structure.
This may well have been a ‘shot across the bow’ or it may simply have been a statement of fact…or it may have been some of each from both parties. I suspect that Ryan’s statement would have caught Trump off guard. It may have been intended to do that simply to get Trump’s attention which is not always easy to accomplish since he is in his own little bubble of control of all he surveys…or most of what he surveys.
So, just what is going on? From my perspective, I suspect that Paul Ryan is signaling Donald Trump that he, Ryan, is the current leader of a co-equal branch of government and that he desires to sit down with Trump to discuss those realities. This is possibly the first dose of “co-equal” that Mr. Trump has ever had to face, and predictably he is not taking this dose of medicine in stride.
I suspect that Rep. Ryan might simply have been reminding Mr. Trump that there are co-equal branches of government and that Republicans need to present a united front going against Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. It is possible that Mr. Trump has lost sight of the party he believes that he now leads, or that this was simply the shot across the bow to get Trump’s attention in a very public manner.
Ryan is not given to error caused by lack of forethought. Ryan is a well-educated student of our form of government. Ryan is not given to the need for personal aggrandizement.
Trump has been accustomed to shooting from the hip…or more often, from the lip. He is accustomed to getting his own way without having to negotiate; he simply issues orders or demands. Trump is not really a Republican; Trump is a Trumpian. This has been and continues to be all about Donald Trump. Hillary is dominating the Democratic party at the moment, so it is natural that Trump chose to run as a Republican.
I believe that Rep. Ryan is well within the bounds of decency and political decorum to make it known that he and Trump need to sit down and have a discussion in all earnestness. That he chose to do so in the public forum suggests that he felt Trump needed to be confronted in that domain, or possibly that he had made overtures to Trump privately that had been ignored.
How this plays out is far more dependent upon Donald Trump than upon Paul Ryan…but it needs to happen and Trump needs to respect the Republican party’s positions if he intends to at least be seen as a Republican for his present purposes.