inessential by Brent Simmons

In Ryan’s Shoes

I try to imagine what I would do were I Paul Ryan. I think and hope that I would un-endorse Trump. It’s obvious by now that a Trump presidency would be a calamity.

The cost of un-endorsing Trump might be the end of Ryan’s political career. He’d make more money in the private sector, sure, and he could probably still work on policy, but as a private citizen. Plenty of people do.

He’d lose an awful lot of power, though. I don’t think he’s in it for power alone — I think he’s in it for the power to turn his policies into law. Which is totally fine. Which is how it should be. (It’s not true of every politician, I grant, but I believe it’s true for Ryan.)

That’s a big thing to lose. He believes his policies will help the American people, and that the policies of Democrats (and some other Republicans) will hurt. I may disagree, but I respect it.

But here’s the thing: Trump is already hurting our country. Continuing to endorse him — no matter how tepidly, no matter how leavened with criticism — makes Ryan complicit in this harm.

Americans need to believe that the leaders of both parties are patriots first and party loyalists second. I’m sure Ryan knows this.

His un-endorsement may not hurt Trump. It may even help him. But there are times to think tactically and times — like now — to just do the right thing, the selfless thing, and be a hero.