Ryan has accepted marriage to Trump’s immoral, unconstitutional commitments for the sake of the potential acquisition of power that will permit him to pursue his agenda. This is the act of the proverbial foolish man who built his house on the sand. Constitutionalism and democracy are both nothing more than crystallized, concretized, institutionalized versions of common decency and fairness. If you have been given the opportunity of political leadership but undermine the foundations of democracy and constitutionalism in the process of trying to wield their powers, you will go down in history not as a statesman but as a self-serving, self-deceiving sycophant.
Put aside Trump’s original supporters from the birther movement, the alt-right movement and the white nationalist movement. Over the past year, he has clearly won a great deal more support among ordinary, decent Americans. During this time, Trump has been leading his supporters to new understandings of what political leadership consists of. Those new understandings — with their abandonment of long-standing moral “guardrails,” to borrow a phrase from David Frum — are a long-term danger to our country. They can be countered only by other leaders who repudiate them and seek to rebuild the standards of decency and moral seriousness on which democracy rests.