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.