One of the best things about living in the nation’s capital is that sometimes you get to hear some pretty cool people speak. One multiple occasions I got to hear Rep. Paul Ryan talk — extemporaneously — on public policy, and he blew me away. On top of that he was a nice guy, stopping in to speak to Heritage interns when he could have just whisked out the door without saying a word. Rep. Ryan has managed to work in the D.C. “kitchen” for quite some time now without deviating from his core mission — to increase freedom and individual liberties for all Americans — but yet he now finds himself taking heat from people who have never even entered the restaurant.
I’ve lived in Washington, D.C. for eight years now, and I never heard someone question his honesty and integrity. He’s a principled guy in an unprincipled town. He’s outnumbered and has limited tools to work with, which is why I find it bizarre that “RINO” keeps echoing off the walls of the Internet since the House announced its budget deal with Democrats.
Buzzfeed’s piece, titled ‘How Paul Ryan Saved the Day’ sums up the Congressman well:
Ryan’s recent success stems in large part from his deep roots within the GOP’s conservative wing. Long before becoming a member of the conservative “Jedi Council” that has helped foment conservative outrage against previous spending plans, Ryan was a key figure within fiscal conservative circles in Washington. Over the years Ryan has developed a reputation amongst conservative and moderate Republicans in the House as a trusted voice on not only budget issues, but broader economic policy.
“The thing about him is that everyone knows he’s a straight shooter, he’s not going to play games. And that’s what it takes,” Diaz-Balart said. “Everyone understands what he says is real, whether you agree with Paul Ryan or not everybody understands that his word is truthful. In this process, he’s among the most trusted.”
Republican Policy Committee Chairman Rep. James Lankford, one of the most conservative members of the GOP leadership, agreed. “The level of trust is there because people know what his core is. We’ve all gone through budget negotiations with him, we’ve all seen the budgets he’s put together and the coalitions he’s put together to get that done. So we know he’s going after as much as he can possibly get,” Lankford said.
Have you ever tried to get blood from a stone? Republicans are not in a position to be able to take a chainsaw to government spending at the moment — particularly after the shutdown. They crossed the rubicon on that, and then when the pressure got too hot they wilted. Worse, they weren’t able to articulate the legitimate philosophical concerns that motivated them to go that route in the first place. If it wasn’t for the Obamacare rollout disaster from Hell, where would the polls be at the moment?
Take a look at where some of the loudest criticisms of Congressman Ryan are coming from; they emanate from people who would very much like to take the mantle of pied piper away from President Obama and hold onto it throughout the 2016 presidential election. The tea party is right: America is broke. In fact, it is more broke than any nation has ever been in existence. The way to address the problem is not to cannibalize one of conservatism’s staunchest defenders as he’s trying to convince the American people that Republicans can work with people they have fierce ideological disagreements with.
Note to my Tea Party friends: If there is a Socialist who seems like a really nice guy and an free-market Republican who seems like a jerk, the American people will (at least these days) vote for the Socialist. This carries over to how we talk about social issues. It’s not always what you say, but how you say it — and if you always come across as an angry raving-mad lunatic who would rather engage in scorched earth tactics than work with a political opponent, you will lose. And then America loses.
You don’t win by subtracting and dividing; you win by addition and multiplication. Congressman Ryan understands that if he can only get 30% of what he wants, then it’s better to do that then to throw a temper tantrum and get nothing. If the tea party is smart, then it will hold its fire on one of the few principled politicians in Congress and resume the air campaign on Obamacare.