Any way you slice it, Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his GOP running mate is a blockbuster that rocks the presidential campaign to its foundation. With the cast now complete, the finishing touches of this fall’s campaign script are being written by both sides’ producers and directors.
Democrats are salivating over the Ryan selection – convinced that they can now pivot from defending the Obama Administration’s abysmal record to attacking the policy proposals proffered by Rep.Ryan, House Budget Committee chairman. Democrats are gleefully dusting off the “Ryan Pushes Grandma Off the Cliff” TV ad they unveiled last election cycle. They have convinced themselves that Florida will go blue in November because Ryan was foolhardy enough to address entitlement reform – the so-called “third rail” of American politics. They believe this is their chance to go on offense.
Democratic strategists are not alone in this view of the political landscape. A number of Republican nabobs are wringing their hands about everything from the impact of Ryan’s ideological courage to the possibility that he might outshine the top of the ticket. These GOP ninnies squirm over a possible charisma gap and wish that Romney had just played it safe.
But playing it safe was not what the Ryan pick was all about. This inspired, thoughtful selection of Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is a watershed event for the GOP, a dilemma for Democrats, and a historic moment for America.
Forty-two year old Ryan represents the future of the Republican Party – and his nomination for veep cements his leadership role for years to come. Ideologically and stylistically, Ryan has made a dramatic mark on the Republican Party as he has effectively become its intellectual and legislative leader. But while the focus has centered on the so-called fiscal ramifications of his budget proposal, Ryan is a direct descendent of the Jack Kemp pro-growth, supply side school of tax and monetary policy that sparked unparalleled economic growth under Ronald Reagan. Regardless of the outcome in November, Paul Ryan’s ideas have been thrust center stage on the American political scene – and they won’t be going away..
Many Democrats believe that Ryan’s selection is Barack Obama’s return ticket to the White House. This thinking exposes the rot that often exists among political pundits busy fighting the last war. Their rational insults the American people – and its senior citizens in particular. More than most, seniors recognize – and are alarmed by – the deteriorating standard of living excused as the “new normal.” They understand you cannot continually spend more than you take in and keep the lights on forever.
They know that, while they have certain expectations for themselves, they have a responsibility to future generations to leave a nation better than the one they inherited.
By selecting Ryan, Mitt Romney sent the strong message that he is in it to win it. Romney understands that an agenda of economic growth and fiscal sanity are inextricably linked. In Ryan he has a partner who can make that connection intellectually and politically. On the other hand, this selection is likely to spur Democrats back to their base political instincts of class warfare and frightening the vulnerable. That tired, old approach cannot be sustained much longer.
The selection of Paul Ryan on the Republican ticket in 2012 signals the first step in a national debate of such magnitude that a presidential campaign is required to sufficiently tackle its ramifications. And while Romney will be the center of that debate this November, these issues – and Ryan – will be at the forefront of the national discussion for years to come.
(Paul Welday is senior counsel at Watts Partners, a Washington D.C.-based government affairs consulting firm. A Michigan political veteran, he has been a Congressional chief-of-staff and a candidate for Congress. Originally posted on Michigan View.)