Donald Trump still has a chance to beat Hillary Clinton for the Presidency on Tuesday, but House Speaker Paul Ryan may still be the most important person to the GOP no matter who ends up winning.
Most indications are that the GOP will still hold the House but may do so with less of a majority. There is a high chance the Senate could flip to the Democrats. If this happens and Mrs. Clinton also wins the Presidency, the obvious importance of Mr. Ryan if he still leads a GOP majority in the House will be to keep the Democrat President and Democrat majority Senate in check. But why could Speaker Ryan be still considered the most important person to the GOP even if the Party's nominee Donald Trump wins the Presidency? To also keep a President Trump in check and to uphold that the standards of the Party and conservatism are kept, since in many ways Mr. Trump as the nominee has failed to do so.
The odds of Mr. Trump winning on Tuesday improved in these last 10 days not because of his campaign, but despite of it. The Presidential race only tightened recently when the FBI re-opened its investigation of Mrs. Clinton email scandal amid a wave of released emails by Wikileaks that were also unflattering about the former Secretary of State. Up until then lewd and controversial comments by Mr. Trump were having liability on down ticket elections and the GOP itself . So much that some members including Speaker Ryan had to distance themselves from the Party's nominee due to the potential negative impact his candidacy was having on them to maintain majorities in the House.
Mr. Trump as the Party's Presidential nominee has not really embraced the role as also the Party's standard bearer. He has only embraced the standards of Trumpism, and has demanded unconditional subservience from Party members no matter his controversial actions as if his nomination was corporate takeover of the Republican Party. Instead of making gestures with members who had differences with him in order unite the Party around common issues, he has instead scolded and insulted them. Instead of using the valuable time during debates to overcome objections potential voters may have of him, he decided to 'wing' it with constant repetitions of assertions that lacked specifics expected at this stage of the campaign, often ending with "believe me folks". How many people believe that Mr. Trump will make Mexico pay for a border wall and that he will deport 11 million people?. Apart from touching on a few points, he also missed major opportunities to show detailed policy proficiency and solutions during the debates to draw contrast between himself and the failed policies of Mrs.Clinton and President Obama. Saying "we should have taken the oil in Iraq" does not go over well in a Presidential debate. Saying that he will force companies to stay in the U.S sounds more like a socialist Bernie Sanders than a Republican candidate who should have been explaining how free market policies can encourage investment in the U.S. Very absent from Mr. Trumps repertoire through out this campaign is the concept of economic freedom, normally a hallmark of a Republican presidential candidate.
Most importantly, while Mr Trump has expected unwavering support from the GOP as the Party's nominee, he himself has not embraced one of the most detailed and comprehensive conservative policy blueprint by the Party as an alternative to liberal policies in years. A Better Way initiated by Speaker Ryan addresses the major issues concerning Americans and conservative solutions to them including: Economic growth and jobs, poverty, tax reform, an alternative to ObamaCare, the Constitution and national security. This agenda is very important to the manifestos of Republicans running for office this year and would have naturally complemented the policy deficiencies of Mr. Trump and his campaign. In also includes conservative positions attempted for years by Mr. Ryan and other Republicans which were overruled by President Obama, but could now pass with the support of a Republican president. It is a pity that the Party's nominee this year doesn't seem to see it that way.
As a result of all this, if Mr. Trump wins on Tuesday the critical role for Mr. Ryan will be what he sought to do as Speaker, make the GOP a proposition Party not just a opposition Party. The relevance of the Party depends on it offering practical solutions to complex issues especially if a President Trump has to face the specific policy realities of the office of President. More so, if Mr. Trump wins and he and his ardent supporters take his victory as a vindication to his strict stances on immigration, protectionist trade agreements, and reduced American role in the world, while also taking it as a repudiation to calls from within the party to grow demographically and adjust to realities of the 21st century. It will need someone like Mr. Ryan maintain that the standards of the Republican Party are not subverted and morphed into the standards of a Trumplican Party which would have dire consequences to the GOP as we know it.