Speaker of the House Paul Ryan recently announced that he will not run for reelection come the fall, and that he will retire from Congress. Although he cites the reason for his retirement as wanting to spend more time with his family, it is obvious that Ryan has seen the writing on the wall; Republicans are likely to suffer losses when the midterm elections arrive. After all, Paul Ryan is not the only House Republican who is retiring. In addition to him, many House Committee members are choosing to step down from their positions, such as Diane Black and Bob Goodlatte. These retirements are a signal that faith in the Republican party is eroding, as even its own members are choosing to step down rather than continue throughout the midterm elections.
It is easy to see why Republicans would choose to retire; their party has been comfortable with supporting a President who has no business leading the country, let alone anyone at all. Republicans such as Paul Ryan repeatedly put party over country in endorsing Donald Trump and continuing to support him throughout his boorish presidency.
Infuriatingly, rather than deal with the mess that he has been complicit in, Ryan instead wishes to bow out completely and stick his head in the sand, seemingly satisfied with passing a tax bill that benefits corporations more than average people. Ryan should have disavowed Trump’s insults and rants, his unpresidential behavior and attitude. This would have been crucial not for the reason of satisfying the liberal media with empty words, but letting people know that the Republican party was not the party that would support or tolerate a buffoon such as Trump. This probably would have helped Republicans’ reputation for the midterm elections, as Trump is currently deeply unpopular with only 39 percent of adults approving of him. If Republicans were to disavow Trump, then they would be seen as a more credible party by many, and when both parties are seen as reasonable, this allows for proper debate between competing ideas, reducing polarization. Thus, if Paul Ryan had spoken out against the president it could have potentially improved debate in Congress, but unfortunately rampant polarization will continue.
It is concerning, however, that many Republicans prefer Trump to more stable leaders such as Ryan. According to a Washington Post article, 52 percent of Republicans indicated that they would agree with Trump more than Republicans in Congress. With Ryan leaving, more Republicans will look to Trump for leadership and disregard members of Congress, meaning that the Republican Party will likely grow even more divided. This division only helps the Democrats for the midterm elections; after all, Democrats can unite under the singular purpose of hindering what Trump can accomplish with the rest of his presidency. If Democrats do indeed win many seats come November, they will certainly try to block any bill that Trump and the Republicans wish to pass, creating more deadlock.
Perhaps Paul Ryan saw this situation coming and chose to leave, knowing that he was not likely to pass anything else like the recent tax bill. However, his retirement is still selfish; after all, Paul Ryan would be more likely than many other Republicans to attempt compromise with Democrats.
If more level-headed Republicans retire, this only makes room for more conservative Republicans to take their places, who will hold more to their views and refuse to properly debate issues. So hats off to Paul Ryan; his leaving can only help Congress become more unproductive than it is now.
Ben Crnic is a contributor for the The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.