By Ed Hubbard and Steve Parkhurst
By the end of this week, Congressman Paul Ryan will be the next Speaker of the House. Both of us believe that his election will be a great step forward for our party and our country.
Unfortunately, some among us will always be unhappy—even when they get what they want. They will continue to criticize, fundraise, and write books based on the division they continue to create, including now shooting their rhetorical guns at Ryan, whom many of these “conservative” critics adored just yesterday. Seriously, with friends like these, who needs the Democrats?
Regardless of the noise these dividers may generate, the truth is that the elevation for Ryan to the Speakership provides us with a rare opportunity to both reform government based on conservative principles, and to then actually govern using those principles.
For his part, Ryan has been offering insights into what he wants to accomplish as Speaker. In an email last week to his House colleagues, Ryan wrote, “I know many of you want to show the country how to fix our tax code, how to rebuild our military, how to strengthen the safety net, and how to lift people out of poverty. I know you’re willing to work hard and get it done, and I think this moment is ripe for real reform.”
For a real understanding of Paul Ryan, look no further than to his 2014 book, The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea. The reality of Ryan’s early life, including the loss of his dad, and his introduction to the political process, are all worth reading in further detail. Understanding Ryan’s family, and his commitment to and appreciation of time with his wife and three kids, is also worthwhile. All of these life experiences have combined with his commitment to conservative principles to create a coherent conservative reformer and leader.
As for the “real reform” that Ryan spoke of, as a leader in the Republican party, he already has demonstrated his willingness to buck the system as needed, and he has offered roadmaps for economic growth and entitlement reform.
A post last week by the Tax Foundation stated that under a Speaker Ryan, “the prospects for sound, comprehensive tax reform are bright.” This should be no surprise, after all Ryan had his economic and supply-side upbringing at the foot of the master, the late Jack Kemp. This finding was based on the ten months that Ryan has spent as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, and the work of that body in those ten months.
And Ryan’s commitment to Reagan’s and Kemp’s visions of the Republican party doesn’t end with tax reform, but extends to their dreams of giving all our neighbors a hand-up out of poverty through the creative use of the free market, the private sector, and local institutions. Fifty years of failure caused by the current model of a “war on poverty” is simply enough wasted time and money, and enough of the loss of dignity, pride and hope for the millions who got swallowed up by the insidious programs and offerings from big government. Ryan points a way for our party and our communities toward a better model.
Paul Ryan released his findings and offered a new plan in the summer of 2014. His plan went nowhere, as is to be expected with President Obama clinging to his pen and his phone. However, what Ryan seeks, a consolidation of redundant services that offer help to the poor and needy, and thus a wiser use of the money so that more of the money being spent is enabling those seeking a hand-up and not a handout, instead of being spent of bigger and bigger government.
Ryan’s embrace of civil society is true to the roots of conservatism. True conservatism is rooted in efforts of individuals and private organizations stepping in where government can be pushed aside. This line of thinking needs a greater embrace from Republicans and from conservatives. If you desire a more constitutionally limited government, this is one way to begin the march toward it.
Therefore, our emphatic support of Ryan should not be confused with an embrace of the idea that conservatives should “compassionately” do more at the federal level. As limited government conservatives, we want power restored to local communities, sooner rather than later. Instead, our support for Paul Ryan is an embrace of a new way forward. It is support for shining a light on problems that get us to stop tinkering around the edges, and instead adopt reforms that really help our neighbors live better lives and achieve their God-given potentials.
One way to gage Ryan’s potential is by the enemies he is already creating—he is the Speaker the Dems have always feared. According to the likes of the New York Times, Huffington Post, Mother Jones and Slate, the liberals don’t want him as the next Speaker. In fact, John Hart candidly noted in his editorial for Opportunity Lives, “Ryan is the Speaker conservatives have always dreamed of and liberals have always feared. Let the battle begin.”
Rick Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government, wrote for Investor’s Business Daily last week, “If Paul Ryan is speaker, he will have a chance to lead. A chance to show his critics that he can truly unite the Republican Party around limited government principles and make progress in stopping Obama’s agenda.” We agree.
In his email to House colleagues last week, Ryan stated, “we can show the country what a commonsense conservative agenda looks like.” Again, we agree. Let’s finally unite to press that agenda.
As we see it, Paul Ryan is the best choice for Speaker of the House. He is the right man at the right time.
By Steve Parkhurst
Finally! It may have taken six and a half years after his passing, but there is finally a book decidedly about Jack Kemp. Due for release in bookstores and online this coming Tuesday, Jack Kemp: The Bleeding-Heart Conservative Who Changed America by Mort Kondracke and Fred Barnes, offers readers a fresh recap of the life of “the most important politician of the twentieth century who was not President.” A sentiment I agree with fully.
Any reader of Big Jolly Politics knows of the regular mentions of Jack Kemp on this website, primarily by Ed Hubbard and myself, but not limited to the two of us.
While Jack Kemp is not an authorized biography, this is the first attempt to explain a man and his legacy that deserves understanding and studying. Jack Kemp is well documented and it reads fairly well as it never gets bogged down in mush the way some political narratives can.
The authors rely on news reports of the day and official documents to back up plenty of fresh interviews with those who worked with Jack Kemp over the course of his days as a football player, a Congressman, a Presidential candidate, a Vice-Presidential candidate and finally as a think tank entrepreneur.
Kondracke and Barnes spend a lot of time weaving their way through the two biggest domestic legislative accomplishments of the Ronald Reagan presidency: the Economic Recovery and Tax Act of 1981 and the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Jack Kemp was crucial and necessary to both.
The supply-side economics which were the basis of the large tax rate cuts voted and signed into law in 1981 are but one part of the success story. The 1986 Tax Reform Act was at least equally as important, though seemingly less talked about in political writing. Much has been written about the supply-side economics movement on the 1970s and 1980s, but the 1986 story is told less often.
Both stories are shared in Jack Kemp in great detail, with Jack Kemp not necessarily playing the hero, but showing true leadership, much of it based purely on principle. And readers are offered a play-by-play for both, and for good reason.
The twenty-five years of prosperity that the tax rate cuts engineered are impossible to argue against, though many on the Left are still trying to debunk. And the tax reform was so monumental it garnered “the largest audience for a bill signing during the Reagan presidency.” And as Kondracke and Barnes note, “Reagan called the measure “the best anti-poverty bill, the best pro-family measure, the best job-creation program ever to come out of the Congress of the United States.”
The authors also editorialized, “The 1986 tax reform stands even now as a model for leaders of both parties who hope to make the tax code simpler, fairer, and more economically efficient.” Reading Jack Kemp makes this statement clearer, and valid.
These were stories worth reading. For some, the play-by-play will be too much minutiae to digest. For students or researchers, there can never be enough. It is a fine line to tread with a book such as this. Congressional and policy battles can be that way. And the policy fights are not limited to economics, but also reach into foreign policy and matters related to the defense of the nation.
Jack Kemp offers much in the way of campaign reporting on Kemp’s campaign for President in 1988 and his campaign to be Bob Dole’s Vice President in 1996. But compared to the policy battles of the day, the campaigns were given considerably less space.
One disappointment in Jack Kemp, is the lack of focus on Kemp’s work in what we would call “civil society,” though there are many differing views on what that actually refers to. Yes, there is an entire chapter titled “Poverty Warrior” which recounts Kemp’s years as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). But this chapter really does not do justice to what Jack Kemp wanted and what he was actually fighting for.
During the years of the first Bush Administration, 1989 and 1993, there was only one point where a Kempian approach to things could have really changed perceptions and reality for President Bush. That point came in 1992 when Los Angeles erupted into riots after the Rodney King jury verdict. Jack Kemp was probably the last best hope to save the Bush administration and earn it a second term in office.
But, it was too late to save the Bush presidency. The work that Kemp had pursued could have changed history, had there been a more receptive audience, both in the White House and around the country. By the time the Bush administration cared about what Jack Kemp wanted to address, Bill Clinton had already told audiences he felt their pain, and he was on his way to unseating an incumbent President. The riots earned a mention on parts of 6 pages, total. For a book that consists of 327 pages of content, this is a real shame.
Jack Kemp spent plenty of time and political capital fighting for community-saving ideas like urban enterprise zones and parental choice in education. Kemp was indeed a “poverty warrior” wanting to offer a light at the end of the tunnel for those in the worst of despair, and refusing to turn his back on “the least of these.” Kemp saw economic growth as a vital element to turning the tide, or in the “rising tide” that would lift all boats. While he could be long-winded, as Kondracke and Barnes point out, and Kemp could talk more than some audiences were willing to listen, he never stopped believing in or advocating for economic growth as the ultimate solution.
The authors record their ultimate conclusion this way, “The full Kemp model—“bleeding heart” and “conservative”—is what the nation needs. Politicians who are principled, dynamic, positive, cheerful, inclusive, bipartisan, optimistic, unorthodox, disposed to compromise, committed to courting minorities, urban oriented, pro-growth, and antibureaucratic—and interested in ideas and action, not political tactics or personal attack. Idealistic. Visionary.”
We can quibble about these words until the end of time, and we probably will. Though it is hard to argue against them and remain true to them at the same time. But, the vision that a “Kemp model” (as the authors see it) offers, is the possibility of a return to greatness.
The reason to seek the “Kemp model” again now is rather simplistic in its nature, especially from a political point of view. In their interview with Norman Ornstein, he told the authors, “if Kemp had prevailed, we would be looking at a majority Republican party today” and they put forth, “because a Kempian GOP could win 40 to 50 percent of the Hispanic vote and 15 to 20 percent of the African American vote (versus 27 percent and 6 percent, respectively, for Mitt Romney in 2012).”
It is hard to argue against that math.
There are many reasons why the Kempiam model did not succeed in the ways that it could have. Some of these reasons are covered by Kondracke and Barnes, other reasons will have to wait. What Jack Kemp makes clear, is that it can be done. It just cannot be done alone. Whether is a single politician who takes up the mantle against the D.C. machine, or by a society that sends elected representatives to Washington and just hopes for the best. Jack Kemp needed Ronald Reagan, and vise versa. But even then, they were two men against the world.
What we need will require a team.
Leaders, whether church, business or political, cannot make themselves the things that make up the “Kemp model.” Not overnight anyway. But we can nurture these things in our young people and in our next generation of leaders. To not do this, to not pursue these ideals, is to witness more of the same that we have watched since the day Ronald Reagan boarded Marine One for the last time and waved goodbye.
The price for such inaction is way too high.
Finally, there is a Jack Kemp story beyond the Washington D.C. area code waiting to be told. That story will be told. This narrative is not offered in this noble work by Mort Kondracke and Fred Barnes, but this book is an important first work in the telling of the Jack Kemp story and I highly recommend it.
As the title states, Jack Kemp “changed America”, it was not the other way around. To see the real possibilities that America can achieve, start with Jack Kemp add some Ronald Reagan, and begin the real work from there.
By Steve Parkhurst
On May 16th this year, I happened to be in my local Barnes & Noble, not really looking for anything in particular, just looking. I noticed a book with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the cover, and I picked it up. The book, The Modi Effect: Inside Narendra Modi’s Campaign To Transform India by Lance Price very quickly piqued my interest just enough.
I had followed Narendra Modi’s rise and his election victory in May of 2014. So I was familiar with him as a leader and candidate, but I did not know much about him as a man and how he actually got to where he is today.
I opened the book to page one, you know how that goes. The very first sentence opens like this, verbatim, “On 16 May 2014, India’s new prime minster, Narendra Modi, enterered the record books…” Pondering that date, I checked my phone, the day was May 16, 2015. Modi was declared the winner on May 16, 2014. Are you kidding me? I happen to pick up this random book about a foreign leader a year to the day he was declared the winner and the next prime minister of India? This was beyond a mere coincidence that I happened to find this book on that day.
So, I kept reading. And I kept reading.
I found The Modi Effect to be incredibly easy to read, despite many people, states and cities that I was not absolutely familiar with. Beyond being easy to read, author Lance Price tells a good story.
Narendra Modi is a man who in one election, got more than 171,000,000 votes. President Obama, in the 2008 and 2012 Presidential elections combined, received 134,000,000 votes. Yes, India is a bigger country than the United States, I get that, but 171,000,000 is still a staggering figure.
How did Narendra Modi get 171,000,000 votes? Well, that is what Lance Price set out to share with us.
The Modi Effect is not a biography, though there are sections that play out that way. The Modi Effect is a detailed, thorough chronicle of the things that helped Narendra Modi get to where he was before the election, then how he won the election, and concludes with where India stands in the world as of early 2015. I guess you could say this is mostly a campaign book, but it is not the nuts-and-bolts minutae of a political campaign, instead it is an overview of several years of the rise of a man and a movement.
I came away from The Modi Effect realizing that Narendra Modi is a fascinating man. He is detail oriented, but not a micro-manager. He is certainly a multi-tasker. He is also a man not afraid to delegate authority and empower others to get real things done. He is a master-marketer. And though he was labeled negatively by his opposition as a “showman,” he is a showman in every positive way.
For as much hype as Barack Obama and his digital gurus have received for their efforts in both 2008 and 2012, I would suggest that what Narendra Modi did over the course of his campaign was much more impressive. Especially given the diverse nature not only of India’s population, but its geography. Of particular interest was the use of hologram machines, where Modi would speak in one location, a secluded room someplace, but he would “appear” live in 3-D form in hundreds of other cities and villages at the same time, looking like he was actually there for the audience to hear. The project name for this, “Modi’s arrival is imminent” is both “messianic” as Price labeled it, but it is also just tactically brilliant.
Then there were the plastic Modi masks that made their way around the country. Actual 3-D costume-like masks that looked like Modi. People wore these and they identified Modi, and they would think about the good things, the hope and opportunity, that Modi was offering if elected prime minister. You have to read the book the understand the level of detail that Modi demanded for these masks, his personal appearance was as much a brand as his party or what he was offering the voters.
Modi took to new technologies very quickly, which is very interesting given his age. Modi was a blogger before all the modern social networking came along. He did not hesitate when it was suggested to him that he start a YouTube channel, replying to the person making the suggestion, “I want it it two days.” He made enormous use of WhatsApp, a personal instant messaging app. And of course, he was a huge factor on Facebook and Twitter. All these things are even more interesting when you think about the populace, voting and otherwise, that occupies India. Some people have never seen a television. Some people still do not have electricity.
One thing that shines through over and over throughout this book is Narendra Modi’s diligent, steady, constant work ethic. Frankly, he operates like a machine. He needs very little rest, and he is up by 5am every morning. As Price notes, “When he does do something that isn’t directly work-related – as with his daily yoga and meditation routines – it is simply to make him more productive and effective for the rest of the day.”
I also found great humor in Narendra Modi’s personality, or at least some of his personality.
In a campaign speech, Modi asked the crowd how many hours a day they get electricity. One of the responses back, noted by Price was, ‘We don’t get power.’ Think about that for a minute. At that point, Modi told the crowd that in his home state “there was 24-hour electricity.” Modi then took to mocking the current leader of the state government by saying that he would be unable to accomplish the electricity accomplishments that Modi had achieved, and Modi concluded, ‘You need a 56-inch chest to do that.’
That quip about his “56-inch chest” is just funny to me. I hope that in 2016 we will hear a presidential candidate say something like that, but I won’t hold my breath. But of greater importance, and interest, is the fact that we’re talking about a country where some people and villages still do not even have electricity. Along came Narendra Modi, offering hope, along with solutions. But unlike our current President, Mr. Modi also has accomplishments to speak of, not hollow platitudes or sleazy payoffs to campaign donors using taxpayer dollars, like Solyndra. And for however cheesy that “56-inch chest” quip might appear, if you can back up the rhetoric with results, cheesy is just fine. And sometimes, voters award cheesy with 171,000,000 votes.
Will Narendra Modi be able to do what he said about electricity? As I learned in The Modi Effect, nothing would lead me to believe he cannot deliver on his words. Lance Price tends to make us think that Narendra Modi is a one man operation. And while much of the marketing might be about Modi, instead of being about Modi’s party and other legislators, Modi has a dedicated, talented team of people working in his administration carrying out his goals and plans.
As Price pointed out, in a speech after becoming prime minister, “Modi said he didn’t plan incremental changes in India’s development. ‘We are planning to take a quantum leap.'” Narendra Modi is a man who thinks big, and works big. And as Lance Price notes later, “The most successful politicians are those who keep their eyes fixed firmly on the future, and that is exactly what Modi has always done.”
The Modi Effect as a book has so many interesting facets to help tell the story. Lance Price went to great trouble to detail for the reader the way things are done in India to make something like a political campaign, and even the election process itself, work out logistically.
India is a place where among other vehicles, elephants, camels and boats are used to get voting equipment where it needs to be so that all the people of India have an equal opportunity to cast a ballot. And because of distance and residency rules, as Price points out, a lone temple priest living in a forest was catered to by election officials by having a complete voting machine and ballot delivered to his hamlet so he could vote.
During the campaign to lead India, Narendra Modi was challenged to offer more than just sound bites and quick retorts to the challenges put to him by the opposition party leaders. Modi gave a speech called the “Idea of India”, which of course immediately reminded me of the late Jack Kemp and Congressman Paul Ryan, both advocates for the “American Idea.” Like Kemp and Ryan, Modi delivered prose that was optimistic and full of hope and promise, especially for those wanting to achieve through work and sacrifice.
“And he identified seven key priority issues that he would address as prime minister: the family, agriculture, women, the environment, youth, democracy and knowledge. He set out some detailed proposals for all of them and declared that a vote for each was a vote for India.”
As it was intended to, “The speech added weight and substance to Modi’s offer to the electorate.”
Also of particularly interesting drama was Narendra Modi’s campaigning in the home territory of his campaign rival, Rahul Gandhi. For several reasons, this sort of thing is rare. It goes without my telling you that the Gandhi family legacy is huge in India, and especially in the home territory of Gandhi. But, Modi went in there anyway. I could tell you the result of that, but I’m sure Mr. Price would rather you get a copy of the book and find out what happened.
Price finally comes to the conclusion that the one word that best sums up Narendra Modi, is “Determination.” As you work your way through The Modi Effect, you can see that as well. Modi’s work ethic shows a man unwilling to quit and too driven to want to slow down.
I find myself rooting for India. Not that I ever rooted against the country, but it is different now. I want Narendra Modi to succeed. If Narendra Modi’s India is doing well, the rest of the world benefits from that.
Early in The Modi Effect, Lance Price notes, “My politics has always been left of centre and my instincts liberal.” So I continued to read, slightly skeptical of a British liberal writing a book about a conservative, free-market oriented Prime Minister of India. I must admit though, my initial skepticism was wrong. I think Lance Price took great care to tell a story that needed telling, and he did it factually, with little if any bias. For that he is to be commended, and his book should be read.
Review by Steve Parkhurst
Congressman Paul Ryan’s first book hit the market back in August. The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea, on its face, the name may not mean much. Inside, there is much to be learned and even more to be explored. This book is a serious, important work. By a serious, consequential leader.
First, a note: I can’t hide my admiration for Paul Ryan. In fact, Google his name and mine, and you will see the lavish praise I have heaped on him over the years. I think Paul Ryan is the right man at the right time, and this book has helped me solidify that thought. I wanted to guard against fanboy-like admiration for Paul Ryan, and so I held back my review for a couple of months.
I wanted to see what others would say about the book, which allowed me a sort of distance from the instant review I could have written. I wanted to see if others read what I read. I was somewhat surprised at what I saw in that period. Interesting voices from the Left, were kind to the book. Put your RINO attacks back in the holster. That’s not the reason for the kind book words toward Ryan. The kind words stem from real solutions put forward by a serious man who did legitimate research, interviewing and witnessing.
As it turned out, my review is the same regardless of whether it was written two months ago, or today.
As mentioned earlier, I am an admirer of Congressman Ryan. I wanted to read The Way Forward to see what new things I would learn and to see what really drives this man, this leader. On that score, I was not disappointed.
That begins by understanding what “the American idea” really means, what it really is, it is after all, mentioned in the subtitle of the book. Ryan lays this out consistently and frequently: “The American Idea is a way of life made possible by our commitment to the principles of freedom and equality – and rooted in our respect for every person’s natural rights.”
From that premise, the journey begins to unfold and The Way Forward becomes real.
When Paul Ryan got to Washington DC as a young man, he ended up working for and with Jack Kemp, at Empower America. This was the type of a relationship from which a great history springs forth.
In 1992, while Jack Kemp was HUD secretary, he made a trip to Los Angeles in the wake of the Rodney King riots. Ryan recounts this Kemp response to a reporter’s question about making home ownership possible to people with no money.
“Well,” Jack replied, “the way to get money and capital and credit into the inner cities of America and the barrios and ghettos of America is to do something radically different than just transferring wealth through government bureaucracies. It is to empower people directly.”
In one short answer, Jack conveyed the power of the American Idea—and the hard limits of liberal progressivism.
Much of the value of The Way Forward as a book or as a policy prescription, and of Paul Ryan as a leader, can be found in Chapter 7, A Virtuous, Not Vicious, Cycle. I would suggest to you, that if you were only going to read one chapter of the book, read Chapter 7.
Chapter 7 is where we are introduced to Bob Woodson, founder of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise. It is where we are introduced to Paul Grodell in Cleveland. It is where we are introduced to Outcry in the Barrio and Jubal Garcia in San Antonio. It is where we are introduced to Bishop Shirley Holloway and her House of Help City of Hope, and to Bob Cote and his Step 13.
I have been to Outcry in the Barrio, I have witnessed what Paul Ryan witnessed. As Ryan conveys his thoughts about a ministry like Outcry, and he displays his belief and understanding that the healing being done in such a place is real, having seen that for myself, I have to believe that every one of the places Ryan has mentioned is not only true, but it is the way. When Ryan says he saw a man named “Tony” who had just arrived at Outcry that morning, I’ve been there, I’ve seen that. I have recounted my first visit to Outcry where I saw two men who had arrived that morning.
What Ryan is seeing and saying is real.
These people and each of their operations, or ministries, are examples of what good people can do when they see a need, or a void, and they go after the solution. These neighborhood healers, each in his or her own part of the country operate as the “little platoons” that Edmund Burke once described.
Chapter 7 is where we are re-introduced to Alexis de Tocqueville, and his poignant observation:
“Americans of all ages, all stations in life, and all types of dispositions are forever forming associations. There are not only commercial and industrial associations in which all take part, but others of a thousand different types – religious, moral, serious, futile, very general and very limited, immediately large and very minute. Americans combine to give fetes, found seminaries, build churches, distribute books, and send missionaries to the antipodes. Hospitals, prisons, and schools take shape that way.”
Robert Putnam noted that “American history carefully examined is a story of ups and downs in civic engagement, not just downs-a story of collapse and of renewal. Putnam doesn’t believe that just because civic engagement is waning it will forever be receding. He thinks we can rebuild civil society and get the engines of social capital going again.
Ryan goes through a policy prescription where he suggests some ideas, reforms and solutions to many issues of the day. Ryan offers, “Truly helping those in need means recapturing a sense of the dignity of work.” Then he sums up his policy prescription this way:
The point of reforms like these is not to suggest that government has no role in combating poverty, or that some ideal of pure volunteerism can replace the need foe concrete assistance to the Americans in greatest need. The idea, rather, is to get government pulling in the same direction as the grassroots groups that our citizens run-and the way to do that is to infuse the welfare system with the same incentives, priorities, structure, and accountability that are at work in our communities.
Ryan concludes the chapter with three compelling paragraphs, which include these thoughts:
Today we’re trapped in a vicious cycle. Too many people are stuck in the poverty trap. Our communities are isolated from one another economically and culturally. We’re seeing stagnation and unemployment, little opportunity for upward mobility and low labor force participation rates. And one of our key assets for turning things around-the associations and institutions that make up our civil society-is being eroded by government overreach rather than reinforced.”
Americans are a generous people. We care about our neighbors when they are in need. But it’s time to start measuring our compassion not by how much we’re spending, but by our results.
My goal is to turn our welfare programs into a bridge instead of a trap, restoring the prospect of upward mobility. Doing so is not just the smart thing economically; it is the right course for a good-hearted country.
Throughout The Way Forward, you can’t help but identify and relate to Ryan’s optimism. For as bad as things got and for as bad as things can be on occasion, Ryan is an optimist until the end. Maybe Paul Ryan was always an optimist. We know Ronald Reagan was an optimist. And Jack Kemp could have distilled his eternal optimism into Ryan during those Empower America days. Optimists reign in the universe of opportunity and prosperity, growth and achievement, freedom and liberty. Our modern day econo-optimists like Larry Kudlow, Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore, they never stop believing that the right people, the right ideas, the right policies, are all within our grasp. But in order to grasp those things, you have to reach out your hand.
Whether Ryan learned to be an optimist or was just born with the gift, maybe he’ll mention that in his next book. For now, I’m more interested in his understanding (and warning) of our moment in time, both as a movement and as a party:
We need to get back to our message of opportunity, upward mobility, and economic growth, the American Idea, and its promise for everyone. We need to make the case for greater freedom instead of ceding personal choices or responsibilities to the state. We need to emphasize the dignity of work and the primacy of civic institutions. And we need to explain how that vision is relevant and meaningful for every person-no matter their color, creed, occupation, or station in life.
For the Republican Party, this is a matter of political necessity. Preaching to the choir isn’t working, and by the way, the choir is shrinking. But, for me, it’s about a lot more than that. It’s about our common humanity, and the duties we owe to one another. I am inspired by Jack Kemp’s example that we shouldn’t isolate people; we Republicans should include them. That’s the only way those same people, when they vote, will start to include us.
Paul Ryan is not simply saying these things, he is living them out as well. Paul Ryan is looking at problems like poverty, addiction and homelessness and addressing issues Republicans rarely want to touch. As the old baseball axiom goes, “you can’t hit a homerun if you never swing the bat.”
Paul Ryan is proving himself to be a leader for our times, for this moment and for this movement.
I wanted to end this review with the paragraph that Paul Ryan ends the book with, mimicking Ronald Reagan’s farewell address in 1989:
This will not be easy. At times, it will certainly be messy. But when all is said and done, I want to be able to say, “It was tough, but we did our part. It’s what my parents did for me, and when our moment came, it’s what my generation did for you. And that’s why the American dream lives on.”
But I feel the need to return to the night Jack Kemp accepted the 1996 Vice-Presidential nomination in San Diego (this is not mentioned in the book). In that speech, Kemp extolled this truism, worth remembering as you read Ryan’s book:
The purpose of a truly great party is to provide superior ideas, principled leadership and a compelling cause.
Paul Ryan has provided you, provided us, The Way Forward.
After a visit to Outcry in the Barrio in April, a return visit has increased the understanding of what this ministry is doing.
By Steve Parkhurst
It is summer time in San Antonio. Mid-July, the 15th to be exact. The temperature approaches 100 degrees. It is a Texas summer day to be sure.
Pastor Roman Herrera, instead of sitting inside enjoying lemonade and air conditioning, is instead working his way through alleyways.
Pastor Roman is not homeless, he’s not looking for a meal, or a place to sleep in these alleys. Instead, he is looking for people. People he can possibly save. He is looking for people passed out or hung-over. He is finding people in such condition. People laying on cement paved alleys, with dirt, leaves and other debris as their only cushion. This just happens to be where they laid down the last time they laid down, or fell down.
Pastor Roman kneels next to these people, who in some cases won’t know he’s even there. One at a time, as he finds them. He might lay a hand on their chest or leg, then he will pray for them. He will offer them a chance to be saved. He offers them a place to go where once they accept that their lives are not being lived according to scripture, they can begin anew. He does not promise a new life. He promises a chance to find forgiveness through acceptance in Christ.
I can ask myself without hesitation, “what have I done this important this year?” and I can quickly, with humility and maybe a little shame, respond “nothing.”
And I don’t write this to shame people. I write this to point out the positive things being done, that arose from a married couple over 40 years ago who opened their home to the very first addict and there began a ministry that has changed the world. Freddie and Ninfa Garcia did this. Their work back in those days is still alive today.
Outcry in the Barrio is the ministry doing this work, leading the way to what looks like a renaissance. Pastor Roman and his wife Alma, they lead the way at the home that houses those in recovery and ministry at Outcry. Their love, caring and devotion is apparent when you talk with them, whether for thirty seconds or ninety minutes.
I was recently afforded the privilege to attend and witness the Outcry in the Barrio International Conference. Pastors gather to share stories about their work and ministries from wherever they traveled, be it Dallas or Peru.
One evening, I enter the performing arts complex where the evening session begins in about an hour. A gentleman approaches me to welcome me, he is a greeter. We shake hands and he asks me about my day. I ask about his day. We start talking. This gentleman is clean cut, wearing a nice shirt which is tucked in. He has tattoos, but I was not judging. I asked him about his relation to Outcry. The next 3 or 4 minutes contain an amazing story of drugs, jail, alcohol, crime, prison, and then, Outcry and Jesus.
I asked questions. He answered them. He’s been clean for nine years now. He has a day job and a family. I noticed at one point, he was constantly smiling, or at least, he was never frowning or looking down. He only spoke of his past because I asked about it, he has his sights set on scripture and the future. He has a personal vision, something that is very important to those who listen to and accept the teachings at Outcry.
His was not the only story. Other stories stretch back further than nine years. Most of these people know the date that things changed for them, and they share it proudly.
Outcry long ago began to reach beyond the limits of San Antonio’s west side. The presence in Texas is strong, but the international reach is certainly being felt as well.
As these leaders gathered for a sort of “iron sharpens iron” week of sharing and fellowship, we heard stories of struggle leading to acceptance; of sin leading to salvation. There are too many stories to write about here, but every story was full of humanity and hope. Each person I spoke with only inspired me to do more.
When I wrote about my Outcry visit this past April, I wrote about the fact that Robert Woodson, the founder of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise had introduced and escorted Congressman Paul Ryan to Outcry in the Barrio this past January. One day during this week long conference, Congressman Ryan was in Washington D.C. at the American Enterprise Institute presenting his new findings on and solutions for poverty in America. Sitting to Congressman Ryan’s immediate right, was Robert Woodson. Was I being told something here?
Maybe so. This was too coincidental.
On politics for another moment, Congressman Ryan’s proposed solutions deserve consideration. They’re a conversation starter, and not a final plan to be voted upon by Congress anytime soon. The ideas of consolidating redundancies and granting states the power to develop ideas of their own to get people out of programs and into lives of meaning, that is a compelling cause which Jack Kemp would have loved, and then he would have fought for it.
Outcry in the Barrio is a great example of a “program” that throws convention to the wind and gets results their way. Outcry, for over forty years, has tried and tested its way to success. And when they need to, they can adjust what needs adjusting.
As a witness to this ministry, and my time observing Outcry is a mere drop in the bucket compared to their forty-plus years in operation, what they do is awe-inspiring. I’m often at a loss for words when I try to explain what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard. There are some incredible men and women in charge of things there. None of them will take credit either, it’s not about them, just as it’s not about me. It’s about faith in God and a desire to reach their vision of spreading the word to anyone who will listen.
I want to ask you, I won’t say the word “challenge” but I will ask you, to find the Outcry in your area. It may go by another name and do other work. But please get in there and help them. Help does not always mean going in with money or supplies, it can be in the form of ministering with and praying with those in need of saving, helping them find their way to their calling, helping them find their direction.
Pastor Jubal Garcia, the youngest son of Freddie and Ninfa, and the current director of Outcry in the Barrio, has global plans for Outcry. The conference in July was called Planet Shakers for a reason. As this national and international growth occurs, many hands, many minds and many hearts will be needed in various communities to assist these efforts. We can all play a role.
As I stated before, this is the stuff that leads to a renaissance.
Days after Pastor Roman is in back alleys spreading the Word and showing people how they can save themselves, I am in the room when he preaches a sermon to the conference attendees. He avoids the lectern and in fact, at points he gets off the elevated stage to stand in the midst of the people to whom he is preaching. To listen to this man is to find someone that feels something for human beings that is beyond words. He is a true embodiment of the work happening at Outcry and the people there.
I’ll begin to conclude with this. Ninfa Garcia, on the first night of the conference was on stage addressing the audience and she made the statement regarding her late husband, “Freddie was a soul winner.” That line struck me as powerful. It struck me as courageous. It also struck me as true. The course of the week long conference proved this to be true, and then some.
I wrote about my first visit to Outcry in the Barrio back in April. I realize now that I missed a lot on that visit. In other cases, I found out that things I observed once, repeat themselves as they should.
Somewhere, I am as sure as a mere mortal can be, Freddie Garcia is smiling down on his work, on his creation. In founding Outcry in the Barrio, he did what he did as a higher calling, let’s not confuse that. But every day, every life saved and every life turned over to following God’s vision is another feather in the cap for Freddie, the soul winner.