Column: For the GOP, it's Paul Ryan or bust

In this Wednesday, June 10, 2015, file photo, House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., presides over a committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015, Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio said his group would “look favorably” on Ryan if he runs for speaker, but for now the group is sticking with its endorsement of Florida’s Rep. Daniel Webster. (Manuel Balce Ceneta, File/AP)

After effectively ousting Rep. John Boehner, the “Freedom Caucus” of the Republican Party used their influence to dissuade the heir to Boehner’s throne, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, from running for Speaker of the House. Now, instead of a sensible, moderate to right politician, it appears that only a wildly conservative, fringe thinker will satiate the Freedom Caucus’ desire for a new Speaker.

Though political gossip has given life to a potential run from Rep. Paul Ryan, even he has been labeled as too close to the establishment. According to a New York Times article, many in the GOP leadership want a Ryan run for Speaker. As the weeks press on, it appears that the Freedom Caucus will accept nothing less than a Cruz-like demagogue for Speaker of the House – a position that requires rational thinking and levelheaded political maneuvering. When someone as conservative as Ryan, a former darling of the Tea Party, cannot gain their support, all hope is lost.

Rep. Paul Ryan was, leading up to his 2012 Vice Presidential bid alongside Mitt Romney, the perfect image for the Tea Party. A product of the Republican Party, a friend to the fringe, and a competent public speaker, Ryan should have the support of the GOP, as well as the Tea Party. A New Republic article highlighted Ryan’s budgetary recommendations as a point of contention, with Tea Party heads criticizing “it for insufficiently cutting spending.” Though there are fiscal policy differences, the Tea Party criticisms are futile at best. 

The New York Times piece cites a book called “Young Guns” written by Ryan, along with former Rep. Eric Cantor and Rep. McCarthy as the sort of relationship with the establishment the Tea Party labels treasonous. They rely on a strict and unwavering code of support as a metric of worthiness. They have “made a long list of demands for changes to how the House operates” while also producing lists, made by various members, of key criteria for a new Speaker. Though they have expressed potential support for Ryan, they have tacked on these addendums and criteria that will only serve to slow the process and potentially deter Ryan from declaring his intent to run.  

The Tea Party and the Freedom Caucus are unlikely to find a candidate who fully supports their opinion, while also being capable of forging some semblance of unity as well as Ryan. A 2011 piece from Salon cites Ryan as believing in a wide variety of anachronistic and shocking notions, such as not “support[ing] abortion in any situation, even to save the life of the pregnant woman.” In line with the Tea Party, he also yearns for an incredibly small federal government, as well as a tax cutting frenzy. 

Paul Ryan is the perfect Tea Party candidate for Speaker of the House. This fringe sect of conservative polemicists has devolved into such a convoluted mess of political backbiting that not even he is afforded universal, Tea Party support. With John Boehner’s retirement, Kevin McCarthy represented the only sound choice for Speaker of the House. The role requires tact and political stamina. The Tea Party has made an art of the fourth-grade meltdown. For the political process to work in a two party democracy, as we have in America, the political parties both need to function. While Democrats have their own set of problems, the infighting is not remotely close to that of the GOP. 

The Tea Party must end their absurd carnival on Capitol Hill, and throw their support behind Paul Ryan. Though he is a far-right conservative with some reprehensible views, he clearly represents the last semblance of a politician – in the true sense of the word – capable of garnering the votes needed to win the speakership. If the Tea Party continues their role as a rip tide for the GOP, dragging the party further and further astray, they will alone be responsible for ushering a massive Democrat victory in 2016. The political disorganization and disarray in Congress has had led to public fatigue and mistrust of this body of government.

While one could have reasonably argued that both parties had a hand in the dysfunction until last year, it is becoming increasingly clear to the public that the GOP is the true circus. Dysfunction is now synonymous with the Republican Party. While the left will continue to watch the right nail their coffin shut, this is not beneficial for the larger political process. Republicans are currently helping to create two options for voters in 2016: the sane left, or the insane, childish, bickering right. Supporting Paul Ryan and stitching the party back together is the last shred of hope the GOP has.


Christopher Sacco is opinion editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at christopher.sacco@uconn.edu.