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May 6, 2016

Lots of Conservatives Share Paul Ryan's Trump Doubts


House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke for millions of conservatives and libertarians when he told CNN’s Jake Tapper, “I think what a lot of Republicans want to see is that we have a standard bearer that bears our standards.”

Can I get an Amen!?

Ryan was referring to his decision to withhold his support for Donald Trump for the time being. “I am not there right now,” Ryan told Tapper, but added, “I hope to and want to.”

It wasn’t a criticism or an attack. It was a very measured and thoughtful plea, essentially saying, “Donald, give a committed conservative something to work with here.”

Ryan continued: “Saying we’re unified doesn’t in and of itself unify us, but actually taking the principles that we all believe in, showing that there’s a dedication to those, and running a principled campaign that Republicans can be proud about and that can actually appeal to a majority of Americans—that, to me, is what it takes to unify this party.”

I’m not optimistic that will happen. Take Ryan’s notion of “principles that we all believe in, showing that there’s a dedication to those.”

On many important public policies Trump has sided with liberals, only recently changing his position on some issues. And by “recently” I mean when his handlers explained to him that his support for, say, the mandate to have Obamacare-qualified insurance is not the Republican position.

On economic issues Trump supports the minimum wage; his rhetoric is very anti-free trade; he has proposed at least one type of tax increase (i.e., the tariffs he proposes on foreign goods are a tax); he’s suggested price controls on prescription drugs, and he supports using the power of eminent domain, where the government confiscates peoples’ personal property—a power Trump has used for his own profit.

Conservatives have opposed those policies for decades.

Ryan also hopes Trump runs a “principled campaign that Republicans can be proud about.”

I suspect that by the end of the Trump-Clinton mud-fest, very few Americans will be proud of anything related to this presidential contest.

An Arkansas Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate has released an ad with a compilation of Trump’s frat-boy comments about women, their bodies and faces—and, of course, sex. It is the first in what’s likely to be a long stream of similarly negative ads.

For years conservatives have fought the liberal mantra that the right is engaged in a war on women. Ads like the one airing in Arkansas will fuel the liberal narrative.

Yes, Team Trump will hit back at Clinton, and hard. Both sides have a lot of negative material to work with.

My guess is this will be the nastiest presidential campaign in history, and most Republicans, and most Americans, will feel like they’ve been drug through the slime pit.

Lastly, Ryan speaks to “what it takes to unify this party.”

After Ryan made his comments, a gracious presidential candidate wanting to unify a divided party would have responded with something like: “I appreciate Speaker Ryan’s comments and, as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, I intend to work to gain not only his trust and support, but that of all Americans.”

Instead, Trump snarked, “I am not ready to support Speaker Ryan’s agenda. Perhaps in the future we can work together and come to an agreement about what is best for the American people. They have been treated so badly for so long that it is about time for politicians to put them first.”

It’s the equivalent of President Obama’s “I won” snip when Republicans tried to express their concerns on the president’s stimulus plan.

Ryan’s concerns, and others like him, are not about “hurt feelings,” as so many pundits seem to think. They wonder where’s the commitment to liberty, the Constitution, limited government and free market principles that have long been at the core of the conservative cause.

If it becomes clear that supporting Trump means casting aside those “principles that we all believe in,” millions of committed conservatives will enter the voting booth, look at their two choices for president, and pull “none of the above.”


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