As House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., prepares to relinquish the speaker’s gavel, it is time to review the standards he set for himself – and how far below them he fell.

In March 2016, while then-candidate Donald Trump was executing his takeover of the Republican Party, Ryan called on the party to stand on high principle. “When people distrust politics, they come to distrust institutions,” he said. “… We don’t have to accept it. And we cannot enable it either.” Yet President Trump has pushed to make politics about distrust of leaders, norms and institutions, and Ryan has more often served as a Trump enabler than a defender of the institutions the president routinely attacks.

The Justice Department and the FBI, to name a couple, have taken a battering under his speakership. Though Ryan has occasionally criticized Trump, he has also watched as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., hounded the Justice Department in a partisan attempt to discredit law enforcement investigations of the president. With absurd memos and show hearings, Ryan’s House has done far more to encourage suspicion of public servants sworn to defend the rule of law than it has to fight Trump’s substanceless questioning of their motives. Ryan has also refused to get behind bills that would protect the inquiries of special counsel Robert Mueller. The speaker’s meek expressions of support for Mueller and assurances that Trump would not meddle in the criminal investigation have communicated that the president would pay little price for blowing up the Justice Department.

“America is the only nation founded on an idea – not an identity,” Ryan said in that 2016 address. “That idea is the notion that the condition of your birth does not determine the outcome of your life.” Trump represents the opposite – that crude notions of identity, not ideas, are the relevant dividing lines in American politics. During the presidential race, Ryan condemned Trump’s Muslim ban and correctly pointed out that it was racist for Trump to question the impartiality of a judge because of his ethnicity. But the speaker insisted that Hillary Clinton was somehow worse, and he endorsed Trump on the grounds that a man who profits from inflaming identity-based divisions would sign more Republican bills into law. This depraved deal got the speaker a big tax bill, but he sold out the American idea he claimed to treasure. Charlottesville, Virginia, racists won; dreamers and legal immigrants from “shithole” countries lost.

“Instead of playing to your anxieties, we can appeal to your aspirations. Instead of playing the identity politics of ‘our base’ and ‘their base,’ we unite people around ideas and principles,” Ryan also said in 2016. “If someone has a bad idea, we tell them why our idea is better,” he continued. “We don’t insult them into agreeing with us. We try to persuade them. We test their assumptions. And while we’re at it, we test our own assumptions, too.”

Was it on this basis that Ryan muscled through a ruinously expensive tax-cut bill on party-line votes, fueled by congressional majorities and a presidency won with anger, petty insults and routine lying? Among the lies that propelled this Congress was that cutting taxes would not balloon the deficit, despite warnings from a range of independent experts. The country will pay for the unchecked Republican assumption that tax cuts pay for themselves. The speaker began the summer of 2017 by presiding over the seating and service of Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., a man who assaulted a reporter during his campaign. Ryan ended the year by jacking up the deficit that he for so long claimed to care about.

Most of these sins, one can argue, are primarily others’. Ryan passed some rudimentary moral tests, such as refusing to endorse accused child abuser Roy Moore in the Senate race in Alabama. But how responsible is Ryan for Trump, Nunes or Gianforte? Very, Ryan circa March 2016 argued. The speaker acknowledged then that acquiescence is enabling. “My dad used to say, ‘If you’re not a part of the solution, you’re a part of the problem.’ So I have made it a mission of my speakership to raise our gaze and aim for a brighter horizon.” Ryan had a choice: Split the Republican Party or oversee its moral demise. He chose the latter. And he knew better.