A Paul-bearing for a reign gone awry(an)


House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., center, accompanied by Melissa Bercier of Couch Clarity, Ill., left, listens to TCW President David Manning, right, as he speaks during a roundtable with American taxpayers on tax reform on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, April 17, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

On April 11, 2018, incumbent U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan announced that he wouldn’t be seeking reelection. Upon receiving this news, I, @mik1297, tweeted, “At least you don’t need a spine to hibernate and watch your party burn in flames. Happy trails, @SpeakerRyan!” (and yes, #shamelesstwitterplug).

Perhaps I was harsh to kick the embattled man while he was down, but after all, even my dear mother, who endured back pain nearly a year ago stemming from a car accident (through no fault of her own), had a spine more intact than that of Ryan. In order to determine the motivation behind my rather savage and celebratory Twitter response, let’s reflect upon Ryan’s political career and the implications of his impending departure.

Since 2015, Ryan has presided as Speaker of the House, albeit with mixed results. Whereas Ryan’s House passed long-awaited tax cut legislation recently, “Republicans during his tenure were unable to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, advance the ball on entitlement reform or cut the deficit. In fact, the deficit has only gone up.”

 Akin to my flaunting of the New York Mets’ amazingness through my borderline obsessive “liking” of their victory posts on social media, Ryan seemed especially intent on lining his and his cronies’ pockets with bountiful financial riches, while leaving scraps for lower-status constituents. Essentially, Ryan lived the American dream (enviable power and riches, respectable wife and children, early retirement, etc.) at the expense of hardworking, middle- and low-class Americans.

Three National Public Radio (NPR) commentators note that, besides the imminent vacancy of Ryan’s seat, “a total of 39 GOP members are not running for re-election… Democrats, meanwhile, are facing about half of that number with only 18 of their members not running for re-election to the House.” Such high congressional turnover may allow a blue wave to sweep our coastlines, which would transform policy outlook dramatically. Also, dissociation from our controversial president, along with a break from the spotlight, may improve Ryan’s prospects of reelection to political office. Hopefully, Ryan will spend his final months as speaker to improve all Americans’ lives, as opposed to his alone.

Although I’m not a professional political analyst, perhaps my effortless relation of Ryan’s reign stems from my first encounter with a “Paul Ryan” of sorts on campus. A little over a year ago, I integrated myself within a friend group that initially seemed amiable and like-minded, and I exhibited undying loyalty to its members. However, they often disregarded me and took advantage of my quiet, kind nature. They even accepted “bribes” from those offering greater wealth and opportunities. Last semester, when I saw the writing on the wall and voiced a proposal to ameliorate my situation, said “friend group” unfortunately abandoned me in my time of need. Yet I refuse to hold sour grapes against, or incur an eternal wrath upon, this group.

Around the time that this group rejected me, I discovered another group consisting of more honest, compassionate individuals who considered my needs and desires and provided me with as great of a voice and care as that which fellow members received. They’ve never forced me to compromise my true self in order to assimilate with them, and they’ve truly restored my confidence, strength and hope. With their help, I’ve progressed and found a more suitable affiliation, which has been a breath of fresh air in that it’s provided me with a new perspective and way of life.

Apart from labeling me as Taylor Swift’s journalistic incarnate, certainly you can see the striking parallels between my situation and that of several Americans disappointed with Ryan and apply the same mindset towards the House of Representatives’ selection of its next speaker. As electors, I and the House can move forward from those who betray their loyal constituents in favor of more powerful corporations. Surely our former speakers will enjoy their remaining existence with little regard for us, but we can also relish our lives under proper representatives whilst their predecessors ponder their wasted opportunities and/or tarnished legacies. If said predecessors ever express a desire to reassume their prior positions, then we can allow them to do so, but only if they admit to their transgressions and act upon our wishes. Such an approach affords us with both a clearer perspective of Ryan and the capacity to move on from him.

Michael Katz is a contributor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email michael.katz@uconn.edu.

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