*The picture is complete and the match-up for this year’s Presidential elections have been set. The “presumptive nominee” of the Republican Party, Gov. Mitt Romney, selected Wisconsin House Representative, Paul Ryan, to be his Vice Presidential running mate. So, it will be Obama and Biden versus Romney and Ryan. Could it get more interesting? Yes, it could…but it is what it is. There is no sophistication to the politics here. Republicans are still stuck on stupid and they plan on running it into the ground. The same mentality that crashed the country—the same mentality that caused this 112th Congress to have the lowest approval rating in the history of Congresses, currently at 17%-up from 9% last November (the lowest since they’ve been polling approval ratings), is the same mentality that will now try to convince the nation that it should run the country (again). Rep. Paul Ryan, first and foremost, is an ideologue.
Ideologues adhere to a very narrow set of ideas, and hold to those ideas—even when logic suggests they shouldn’t and reason suggests there are better ideas out there. Ideologues don’t listen to logic or reason—only to their own point of view. So that’s a problem of the top. Not because Ryan is the latest iteration of “right winged” conservatism, but because his views will became a distraction to what should be a rational national debate on solving America’s problems. Ideologues are never rational and are most always divisive when in the mix. Romney didn’t pull a rabbit of a hat. He pulled a fox out of a foxhole. This is worse than four years ago when they tried to sell us a female George W. Bush (a dunce in lipstick). Why? Because Ryan is more schooled in rhetoric than Palin was, and he has a voting record to run on. Or run from…
Exactly what are we up against here? Well, to know where this is going is to know what we’re dealing with and where we’ve been. Rep. Paul Ryan is one of Congress’ “young guns,” a pack of Tea Party inspired obstructionists that took the country to the brink of collapse last year when they refused to raise the debt ceiling to keep the government running. The obstruction wasn’t even agreed to by his own party’s moderates. The condition to raising the debt ceiling was that Congress cut the budget to “live within its means.” Ryan’s contribution to the conversation was that we needed to cut, or drastically reduce Medicare. That’s when the nation turned on Congress and the Speaker had to check him before he walked the whole party off the plank. Paul Ryan is the second most extreme ideologue in Congress to House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor. Together, they represent the “new” right wing of the Republican Party.
So what made him a Vice Presidential nominee consideration?
Well, Mitt Romney had the same problem that John McCain had in 2008, trying to sell himself as a conservative. Romney, like McCain, spent his whole political career as a middle of the road Republican moderate…until he runs for President. Unlike President Obama, who is a true moderate and ran as such, Romney can’t seem to reach most of his party from the middle…that’s how far out on the political ledge the Republicans are. The ultra-conservatives (the far right-wing) control the party. Which means they will also control the Republican Party nominee…and subsequently, who goes on “the ticket.” After the McCain debacle of 2008, Romney had no choice but to “come to Daddy,” the Republican Fathers that run the party and they said pick a conservative or get out of here. Romney, who was flirting with “being creative” in expanding the party tent by floating names like Condi Rice and Rick Rubio, contracted the party tent by going with white bread from a toss-up state, putting Wisconsin in play and the Republican “poster boy” for obstructionism at the center of the election.
With the pick of Ryan, Romney gave up women, Latinos, Blacks and possibly senior citizens because of Ryan’s extreme views on abortion, education, incarceration, health care, immigration and government role in insuring fairness and equity. Ryan is the next evolution of Reaganism. In fact, President Obama has said, on several occasions, that the current Republican Party would have been to the right of even Reagan’s views, the last ideologue elected to the Presidency. Even Reagan’s successor, George H.W. Bush, couldn’t sustain Reagan’s extreme ideology and made him a one term President. Everybody else has run from the middle since.
Four years ago, the Republicans tried a little trick-aration by picking somebody nobody knew to try and steal moderate and conservative women away from the Democratic Party for not putting Hilary Clinton on the Presidential ticket. They found a relatively young, good-looking woman, who was a Governor, in a state far moved from any the urban and rural realities of the rest of America. The rest of America said, “Wow!!!” Until she opened her mouth…they found out she had no ideology at all and couldn’t get up to speed on the Republican ideological rhetoric. Then the more they dug, the more they found out she didn’t represent the party’s values at all—with a pregnant unmarried daughter, infidelity issues with her and her husband, academic challenges in college and a hidden penchant for black jocks. And that wasn’t the worst of it.
What she really showed, instead, was the anti-intellectualism that reminded America of the eight years they just experienced. Then Palin started believing her own hype and the Republican Party had a runaway train on its hands, as it tried to insult America’s intelligence and it completely backfired. But at least the party took a gamble to expand the party tent.
Not this time. Where McCain stood up to the party, Romney bent over for the party.
They won’t have a problem defining who Paul Ryan is. He is Mid-West born and bred, understands the issues and codes of racial Americana. He knows the “party line” backwards and forwards,” and not even Mitt Romney knows them that well. Lastly, he represents the irrationality that the far right represents. In that regard, he’s worse than Palin because he’s politically more dangerous. But there is one saving grace here. Paul Ryan has a very political voting record. No matter what he says…he is on record as being a political extremist. And he’s consistently extreme in trying to hold to a 30 year old political paradigm (Reaganism) that is outdated. Reagan “Junior” ideology hasn’t played well in the 21st Century. It’s too extreme.
Americans don’t like extremists. And they have elected a few, only because they didn’t know in advance. Even when their politicians were extreme, they didn’t come out and say it. If they did, like Strom Thiurmond and Dixiecrats back in the day—they didn’t get elected. Well, Ryan has said it and still says it and Romney has already demonstrated that he can’t defend Ryan’s views. So you now have “Foot in Mouth” and “Hoof in Mouth” on the same ticket.
With a VP pick worse than John McCain’s, Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan may have just handed President Obama his second term in the Oval Office.
Anthony Asadullah Samad, Ph.D., is a national columnist, managing director of the Urban Issues Forum (www.urbanissuesforum.com) and author of the upcoming book, REAL EYEZ: Race, Reality and Politics in 21st Century Popular Culture. He can be reached at www.AnthonySamad.com or on Twitter at @dranthonysamad.