Speaker Paul Ryan supported Donald Trump. Now it seems like he’s in the driver’s seat moving forward — Republicans now control all levers of power in Washington. And Ryan has articulated a clear agenda for what Republicans should do next.
For that reason, Ryan’s speech today at 11 am today may give us a window into what kind of power Trump will wield when he becomes the president of the United States of America this January. (You can watch the speech broadcast live starting at 11 am at the C-SPAN live stream.)
Not only will Ryan will be keeping his speaker’s gavel, but he and the Republicans held on to far more seats in the House of Representatives than practically anyone expected. (Democrats won between five and eight seats and had been expected to gain at least more than 10, according to the Wall Street Journal.)
It’s unclear how much Trump’s opponents should expect Ryan to have the desire or capacity to wield a veto on Trumpian power and influence. Tensions between Ryan and Trump have bubbled to the surface over the course of both the Republican primary and the general election, with Ryan saying he was “sickened” by Trump after the “grab ’em by the pussy tape” surfaced.
But as New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait pointed out yesterday, Ryan did far, far more to support Trump than to disavow him — an alarming sign for those now desperate for a sign of something to stop Trump:
Ryan is a committed Randian ideologue who has devoted his entire career to curtailing the redistribution of income. Freeing up rich people and business owners from the burden of regulation and progressive taxation is Ryan’s idea of what liberty really means. When Ryan says things like Hillary Clinton’s America is “a place where liberty is always under assault, where passion—the very stuff of life—is extinguished,” he means it.
If Trump wins, he needs Trump to sign his laws. If Trump loses, he needs Trump’s supporters not to blame him, so that he can manage the House and maintain his leadership in the party. He’s supporting Trump not because he’s a coward or uncommitted to the vision of governing he proclaims, but precisely because he is committed to it.