Postmodern Conservative

Paul Ryan for President?

A Cure That Is Actually The Disease

It is not quite impossible that we might get a GOP presidential nominee that was not among the presidential candidates.  You could end up with a situation that the loyalist Cruz, Trump, Kasich, and Rubio delegates end up hating each other so much that nobody can get 1237 delegates.  It isn’t the most likely scenario, but it is possible.  Even in that case, Paul Ryan would be a terrible choice and the idea that he would be a good compromise (or any kind of compromise) is indicative of the arrogance and insularity that got the GOP leadership into this mess.

Ryan is an open supporter of the comprehensive immigration bill that would have provided upfront legalization and doubled future immigration flows.  If anything unites Cruz and Trump supporters, it is this Washington/Chamber of Commerce approach to immigration policy.

Ryan is also a supporter of tax reform that would , if you read between the lines of public his comments, cut the tax liabilities of high-earners.  He is also a supporter of cuts to the old-age entitlement programs (as am I.)  One can hardly imagine a combination of policies better designed to alienate Trump supporters than amnesty, tax cuts for the rich, Social Security and Medicare reductions, and doubling immigration.     

Ryan wouldn’t be a terrible candidate because he didn’t run, or because he is a Washington insider.  He would be a terrible candidate because he is a conviction politician whose convictions (on some major issues) have been rejected by the vast majority of his party’s presidential primary voters.

The Ryan fantasy is only one symptom of a resilient disease.  Ryan’s backers have not reckoned with the reality of public opinion within their party.  They honestly think that they can win everything at the convention after having lost everything at the ballot box.  They are as delusional as any Trump proposal.

The Republican Party (and more importantly the center-right political coalition) is badly divided.  Any healing will involve a message that speaks to the populist conservatives who support Ted Cruz, the working-class moderates who support Donald Trump and general election swing-voters too.  The Ryan fantasists think that all it takes is a pretty face and speaking the proper incantations to get dissenting voters to forget their own interests and priorities. It was that fantasy that gave us the RNC “autopsy” that said the GOP agenda was just fine except for comprehensive immigration reform. 

Paul Ryan is a good man with some good ideas, but he can’t be the solution to the GOP’s dilemma because his blindness (a blindness that is common among GOP elites) is the cause of the GOP’s dilemma.   

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