Debate Over Paul Ryan as VP

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The Paul Ryan pick for VP has stirred up a pretty fascinating debate, and I thought it was worth highlighting as much of it is thought provoking.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say the reaction from many “tea party” organizations on the Paul Ryan pick for VP has been excitement. In fact, here is a release from Tea Party Patriots, one of the larger “tea party” organizations out there (and, no, folks – I’m not claiming they speak for you or any other group):

“Tea Party Patriots welcomes the selection of Paul Ryan as the Vice-Presidential running mate for Governor Mitt Romney. With this selection, Governor Romney and the Republican Party make it clear that they have accepted the Tea Party Patriots values of fiscal responsibility, limited government and free markets as the best course of action for economic recovery and restoring personal freedom and individual responsibility to our national values.”

This general reaction, echoed by a great number of groups, has sparked some fascinating debate in the tea party/liberty minded community.

Such as this Facebook post from Corie Whalen, Political Director for the Campaign for Primary Accountability, after seeing the Tea Party Patriots e-mail lauding the Ryan pick for VP:

“While I don’t oppose Paul Ryan as a VP pick, because I think he articulates the need for entitlement reform quite well, and pushes the debate about how broken our system is in a constructive direction, he’s simply not “tea party.”

I’m sorry, but when you look at Paul Ryan’s voting record, it pretty much reads like the reason the tea party movement came into existence in the first place. TARP, Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind, the auto bailout – unfortunately, the list goes on.

But, despite the past, I do think there’s a lot to like about the Ryan pick. But to claim this represents the Republican Party accepting the core values of the tea party movement? I’m sorry, but that’s just false. We have a long, long, long way to go. Could this be a step in the right direction? Sure. But that email has ‘surrender’ written all over it. If the tea party movement accepts Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan as saviors, it’s done. We need to keep fighting Republicans just as hard, if not harder, than we fight Democrats. (For example, doing things like electing Ted Cruz over David Dewhurst in primaries).”

In response to some push back Corie received about criticizing the Tea Party Patriots position, she wrote:

“…it makes the tea party seem like an owned entity of the GOP. I am not saying vote against Romney/Ryan. Go ahead and support them. But don’t pretend that the tea party shouldn’t be the component that holds them accountable. That’s what it’s for.” Additional response from Corie “…I think it’s bad when a national tea party organization acts like the Ryan pick is an embodiment of tea party values. I’m sorry, but that’s just not true.”

I think Corie makes a great point. Organizations should be extremely cautious in how they approach this election in general. Being on a big national ticket does not automatically change who a person is.  The dislike of Obama does not bestow sainthood onto anyone who opposes him.

Just look at Ryan’s record as highlighted by Politico’s, Andrew Restuccia and Seung Min Kim in their story, Paul Ryan’s voting record: Big-spending conservatism.

“Ryan voted for the $700 billion bank bailout, the biggest Medicare expansion in U.S. history, a massive highway bill that included the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ and other big-ticket priorities when George W. Bush was president…”

“In the fall of 2008, Ryan voted for TARP. Later that year, he voted for loans to help rescue the auto industry, making him one of just 32 Republicans to do so — and his vote came after Romney wrote The New York Times op-ed titled ‘Let Detroit go bankrupt.’ ”

“All in all, Ryan’s congressional voting record reveals a standard, loyal Republican. He has voted at least 90 percent of the time with his party since he came to Capitol Hill in 1999, according to The Washington Post’s votes database.

Among the biggest items in Ryan’s spending record was his vote in the fall of 2008 for the $700 billion TARP financial bailout, which drew resistance from many House Republicans despite the Bush administration’s warnings that failing to act could cause an all-out collapse of the financial system.

During House floor debate on Sept. 29, 2008, Ryan said the TARP legislation ‘offends my principles.’ But he added, ‘I’m going to vote for this bill in order to preserve my principles. In order to preserve this free enterprise system.’ “

“In 2003, Ryan also voted to create the Medicare prescription drug benefit, with a cost — initially estimated at $400 billion over a decade, according to the Los Angeles Times — that so rankled conservatives that House Republican leaders had to take extraordinary efforts to pass the legislation by a razor-thin majority. That included holding the vote open for hours in the wee hours of the morning.”

“Ryan, like many Republicans, also voted to raise the debt limit at least five times during the Bush administration, when such votes were considered routine and uncontroversial.”

The Politico article rightfully goes on to credit Ryan with pushing the entitlement reform debate, which I think was a politically difficult fight to embrace. I may not even agree with all of his solutions, but he should receive all the credit in the world for pushing this debate as it is America’s biggest problem – at least financially.

So this is where the debate moves from philosophy to reality and back again.

Knowing full well that Ryan and Romney both have more baggage than Paris Hilton on a trip to Europe – is it the right thing to accept their flaws and vote to get rid of Obama, clearly the most destructive President since Nixon. Summary of this position: a can of corn is preferred to Obama.

OR

In knowing their flaws, is it logical to assume they will not change and when considering Obama/Biden vs. Romney/Ryan – is it really a false choice? Will both drive the country off the cliff with the only difference being the speed of the car? Summary of this position: neither is an option that merits support.

Either way – it’s interesting to watch the debate play out. My basic take is that we shouldn’t pretend Ryan is something that he isn’t. If you understand the Romney/Ryan records, and still back them – more power to you. I understand that perspective and respect it.

However, I don’t think it does any good to be intellectually dishonest with ourselves, and pretend that Romney and Ryan have just become the messengers of freedom and the defenders of individual rights. Let’s be honest and just admit – that’s not who they are. To say otherwise hurts our credibility.

In general, I obsess less and less with DC every day, because I now look at the debate through a completely different perspective. Individualism vs. collectivism is THE debate of our time, and for me – it frames all of my political engagement. Collectivist leaning DC will never be the answer to our problems.

As Dr. Ron Paul once told me, change will only come from the “states and the people.” He understood that neither he, nor anyone in DC, nor any President could fix our problems. Either good liberty minded people will rise up in the states or they will not. I’m not waiting on a knight in shine armor to ride into DC to save me and my family. Change will come from creating more sovereign states or change will not come at all.

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