BY LILY REAVIS ’21
Paul Ryan’s April 11 announcement that he will not seek re-election is indicative of a much larger problem — Ryan should never have been elected to Speaker of the House. In allowing him to even reach that position, the GOP has bitten off more than it can chew, and the effects are becoming increasingly obvious with the approaching midterm elections.
Ryan has consistently gone back on his beliefs when it has come time to vote. From his 2012 run with Mitt Romney to his 2016 Speaker election, his views changed to align with every politician he’s teamed up with.
Elected government officials have a duty to represent their delegates through voting and to challenge dangerous ideas presented by their colleagues. Instead of maintaining his stances on taxes, the Affordable Care Act or spending cuts, Ryan sacrificed his beliefs to achieve higher offices.
Ryan has been a major GOP player for the past 10 years, and still has never presented a legitimate policy idea to the party. His 2008 “Roadmap for America’s Future” put him on the conservative map as someone who could bring new ideas to the table. In reality, however, most of the ideas present in his federal spending plan had been first introduced in the ’90s, and Ryan simply dug them up and presented them as new ideas.
The plan called for dramatic cuts in both spending and taxes, with the effect of lower deficits. The media and his party immediately began regarding him as the “GOP’s fiscal conscience,” and as “intellectually audacious,” according to The New York Times. Throughout his entire political career, Ryan was rewarded for doing the bare minimum.
In October 2016, Ryan said that he did not and would never defend Trump, according to CNN. During the campaign, he continually condemned Trump for his proposed Muslim ban, his leaked audio recording encouraging sexual assault and his “textbook” racism. By the end of the campaign, however, Ryan was clad in “Make America Great Again” gear. Just months after discrediting him, Ryan publicly promised to stand by him. Paul Ryan’s political stance depends on who is in power, and he constantly uses his vote to get ahead politically. This is how he became Speaker of the House — and why the GOP is beginning to crumble.
According to CNN, Ryan condemned Trump’s immigration plan in 2016. In 2017, he promised Angelica Villalobos, an Oklahoma mother and undocumented immigrant, that he would not allow her to be deported. However, content in his position, he has stood back and let Trump push his extreme anti-immigration platform.
At a press conference in November 2017, Ryan described sexual assault as a “disgrace.” One month later on The Today Show, in response to the 16 allegations against the president he said, “Look, I don’t even know what all of these accusations are. I’m focused on fixing Congress, I’m focused on my job, where I work, making this institution safe.”
A political party cannot operate by solely rewarding blind followers. By allowing for that standard with Paul Ryan, the GOP has sent a message that those who refuse to question the president will be given higher authority. This is not only dangerous for the future of the party, but for America’s entire democratic system. If elected officials no longer hold others accountable, democracy is compromised.
Ryan’s announcement that he will not seek re-election is entirely too late. His history of switching stances whenever it has proved convenient for him shows that the GOP can no longer keep itself in check. Since Ryan never questioned the party’s leadership, President Trump has been able to accomplish far more than he should have been allowed to otherwise. Without a sense of accountability, the Republican party will continue to descend into chaos, with its spineless figureheads.