Maybe Sean Hannity can get these kids together again, eh? Donald Trump told Fox and Friends this morning that he and Paul Ryan will meet next week to discuss party unity and Ryan’s trepidation in supporting him. First, though, Trump tweaked Ryan for not getting behind the presumptive nominee, and that “he was the only one that was surprising.” Noting that Ryan and Mitt Romney lost a winnable race in 2012, Trump wondered why Ryan doesn’t grasp the need for unity now (via Twitchy):
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) May 6, 2016
Meanwhile, it appears that someone has gotten these two kids together, or will soon. Trump tells the F&F panel that he and Ryan will meet on Wednesday to discuss the distance between them, and presumably how to close ranks and present a united Republican front:
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) May 6, 2016
Ryan’s reluctance — his #TrumpSkeptical position, if you will — seems a bit curious at this stage. Chris Cillizza wonders whether Ryan’s trying to shield the GOP from so-called “Trumpism”:
Lost somewhat in the maelstrom of press coverage of Ryan’s announcement — it came during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper — was the “why” behind Ryan’s decision to not simply get in line behind Trump.
The answer is important and telling about where Ryan sees both himself and the party not just in this election but in 2020 and beyond. He is not running for president. Instead he’s working like hell to preserve a Republican Party that can be viable in future national elections. …
Seen through that lens, Ryan’s unwillingness to simply throw his support behind Trump makes perfect sense. Ryan knows the numbers. He gets that Trump is an underdog against Hillary Clinton in the fall. And what he wants to avoid is sacrificing (or appearing to be sacrificing) the core principles of the Republican Party for the easy expediency of backing the party’s nominee.
There’s not really anything preventing from Ryan from offering a public statement of party loyalty while continuing to work to advance those principles. Ryan doesn’t have to campaign for Trump or to extol him; all he needed to say was, “The voters have elected our nominee, and I will support our party in November.” Most of the endorsements Trump cites in the clips above have been of that nature, focusing more on beating Hillary Clinton than on the virtues of Trump himself. As a member of party leadership — which the Speaker is ex officio — this reluctance could come across as sour grapes after the party’s own primaries and caucuses.
Going #NeverTrump won’t “preserve a Republican Party that can be viable in future national elections”; it will create all sorts of grudges and divisions that will complicate matters in 2020 and beyond (and probably in 2018 as well). That problem comes from a disconnect from voters profound enough that the GOP’s loyal voters chose Trump over the more reliable expression of those core principles. As I wrote yesterday at The Fiscal Times, the solution to that won’t come from a refusal to recognize that feedback, but from long, patient work to make the kind of connections to communities that addresses it:
People in swing counties see Republicans, and especially the conservative factions within it, as the party of no, not the party of solutions. Opposition parties and movements have to say no, but to succeed they have to find ways to get voters to say yes as well.
Fortunately, conservatism is not destined for irrelevance. Some conservative organizations – Americans for Prosperity chief among them – have eschewed electoral politics and philosophical rhetoric in favor of community engagement. They make themselves part of their communities, offer real assistance to people while contextualizing free-market economics as the solution for the lives of those who live there.
An explosion of regulatory activity at the federal level now has Washington encroaching on the businesses and lives of more Americans than ever, the cost for which the Competitive Enterprise Institute estimates as $15,000 a year for every US household. That gives even greater opportunities for small-government conservatives to offer specific solutions that will improve the lives of people in a direct and concrete manner.
Conservatism has to be more than a debating society. It has to offer practical improvements, and in order to do that it has to engage people where they live. For too long, the conservative movement has mainly argued philosophy and employed obstructionism while assuming the rest of country understood the stakes. As this primary has demonstrated, even many self-identified conservatives have tired of ideology and all-or-nothing politics.
Most of the present contretemps between Trump and his doubters/opponents comes from voices urging an immediate demand for loyalty to the nominee. The convention is more than two months away; perhaps everyone can take a deep breath and allow others to come to terms with reality at their own pace. Roger Simon urges everyone to do just that, including the #NeverTrump contingent:
When I read this afternoon that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan announced (on CNN!) his reluctance to support Donald Trump, his party’s assumed presidential nominee, I knew it was time for the Republicans to take a time out, to shut up for, say, a week and let things cool off. Furthermore, hard as it may be, they should not for that period give any press interviews and they should refrain from making any public pronouncements. (Ryan, generally a smart guy, was absolutely a sucker for Jake Tapper.)
And that includes Mr. Trump, who won the primary election far more quickly than even he thought he would. He needs to take a breather to figure things out. Anybody would.
Naturally the #NeverTrump crowd needs to go silent for a few days as well.
All branches should stop and think, not do anything definitive. It won’t hurt. They can come out and be just as mean to each other in another week, destroy the party, start a third party, move to Canada, invade the Balkans, whatever they want to do. But maybe they won’t. Maybe they have more in common than they think. They should at least try to find out.
It’s good advice, and perhaps the strident voices on both sides should listen to it.