Today’s summit in Washington, DC between Donald Trump and Paul Ryan is the clash of the man who has harnessed an angry Republican base with populist (and often not Republican) positions, and the man who protects the Republican congressional majority and is a member of the ideology-driven Republican elite.
Paul Ryan can’t not back Trump as the presumptive nominee. But right now, he has serious concerns about trump’s tone and trump’s positions. As to tone, Trump’s agitating hyperbole and insults have turned vast swathes of the electorate off. He is blowing up the 2012 Growth and Opportunity Project, rally by rally. As to positions, Trump has campaigned on ideas that are opposite to long-held Republican positions on trade, foreign policy and Planned Parenthood and new positions on transgender rights. He has been wobbly at best on abortion.
Because of gerrymandering and population patterns, the Republican Party has an almost insurmountable advantage in the House. That said, Ryan knows that he has to find a way to get behind Trump. And Trump knows he needs the Republican Party behind him to have any hope of effectively bringing a challenge to Clinton and the Democratic party’s machinery and money. Trump and Ryan will make their peace eventually. It will take time and energy and compromise, and it will be a fragile peace at best. But for both sides, hold-your-nose unity is a lesser evil than a fractured Republican party simply giving the Presidency – and perhaps Congress – away to Democrats.