A Personal Perspective
BY MARCIA MOXAM COMRIE
The saying that “all politics is local” was proven once again this week when U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that he would not seek reelection to Congress this fall.
The news generated a collective sigh of relief way beyond Washington, D.C. and his Wisconsin district. Sure, the congressman has his supporters who may not be happy that he’s “retiring,” but for millions of others—mostly Democrats—it’s “good riddance.”
Ryan reluctantly accepted the speakership in 2015, succeeding John Boehner—but he has been wishy-washy on the matter of President Donald Trump since the 2016 election cycle.
He never decisively condemned any of Trump’s rhetoric and conduct. And he has mostly rolled over and played dead since Trump took office. The budget passed earlier this year does not favor working class people. Instead, it will make the rich even richer. Ryan betrayed us there as well.
The bill favors the super wealthy, such as Trump and his family. It also favors the political class in Washington, many of whom are independently wealthy. Forget the poor and middle class. Critics have called it “welfare for the wealthy,” and that is an apt description.
Ryan has been a shameless enabler of Trump. He has shown no leadership in curtailing the president’s haphazard leadership style and inappropriate and, indeed, dangerous conduct. Rather, he has kept silent every time he has needed to speak up or speak out in defense of the sanctity of the American presidency.
In less than a year and a half in office, Trump has permanently tarnished the image of America across the globe. It’s bad enough that this nincompoop was elected president, but he has been made much worse by the people who allow him the free reign to destroy everything for which this country stands.
The leaders of both houses of Congress—both Republicans—have allowed Trump to continue acting like an unsupervised 3 year-old playing with matches. Ryan has done us no favors and neither has Senate Leader Mitch McConnell. They have been a party to the dysfunction wrought by Trump’s unchecked power. There is party loyalty and then there is dereliction of duty. They have allowed party loyalty to blind them to Trump’s dangerous incompetence and unhinged actions. That’s dereliction of duty.
The leaders of both houses are supposed to provide checks and balances. These two men look the other way, even when they do not necessarily agree with Trump’s lunacy. They would rather keep quiet while the boy-president burns the house to the ground. There is something seriously wrong with that kind of party loyalty.
Ryan never wanted to be speaker and now we know why—he doesn’t have the stomach for it. And yet he once ran for the vice presidency as Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012. If he can’t handle being speaker, how could he possibly have handled being a breath away from the presidency? The truth is that Ryan does not have the stomach for the speakership and he should not return to politics. Pundits are speculating that by leaving Washington now, Ryan is trying to put distance between his tenure and Trump.
They expect that he will return to the spotlight to run for president in 2024. He will be a still young and spry 54. Let’s hope he stays out of the race. He has nothing to offer that we can’t live without. The time to show leadership is in the job you have now. Don’t wait until you get the job you want.
Ryan has failed as speaker because he has rolled over and played dead to this president. The song “Me and Bobby McGee” notes that “freedom’s just another word for ‘nothing left to lose.’”
Perhaps, Ryan will take that message to heart and start standing up to Trump now. Otherwise, shame on him and good riddance.