House Speaker Paul Ryan speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 23, 2016.
Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters

Under fire from the right, Ryan condemns a Democratic dystopia

Donald Trump headlined a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, last night, and was introduced by the chair of the state Republican Party. He was interrupted by a chant from several Trump followers: “Paul Ryan sucks.”

It was a reminder that Trump has largely succeeded in turning many of his devotees against the Republican Party’s top national official – even in the House Speaker’s home state.

For his part, Ryan continues to officially support Trump’s candidacy and has not pulled his endorsement of his party’s nominee. That said, the congressman has also stopped trying to defend the presidential candidate and goes out of his way not to mention Trump’s name in public.

So what does Ryan want to talk about? The Speaker spoke to a group of college Republicans late last week in order to focus on one thing: his disgust for the Democratic governing vision. And while that hardly comes as a surprise – Ryan is the most far-right Speaker of the modern era – Slate had an interesting report on what exactly the Wisconsin Republican has to say about the Democratic agenda.
“What vision do Hillary Clinton and her party offer the people? They want what America that doesn’t stand out. They want an America that is ordinary. There’s a kind of a gloom and greyness to things. In the America they want, the driving force is the state. It is a place where government is taken away from the people, where we are ruled by our betters, a cold and unfeeling bureaucracy that replaces original thinking,” continued Ryan, one of whose original thoughts is that Trump should have the ability to launch nuclear bombs wherever and whenever he might feel like.

“It is a place where the government twists the law and the constitution itself to suit its purposes. It is a place where liberty is always under assault, where passion, the very stuff of life is extinguished,” said Ryan, who supports a man who has at various times attacked the Sixth Amendment, the First Amendment, and voiced his support for assorted war crimes.
The Speaker added that Clinton “will stop at nothing” to create this dystopian nightmare. He added, “When Hillary Clinton says we are ‘stronger together,’ what she means is we are stronger if we are all subject to the state.”

What I’d love to know is whether or not Paul Ryan has ever actually spoken to a Democrat.

I know a fair number of Dems, and I’ve had a chance to familiarize myself with the party’s agenda and priorities. “There’s a kind of a gloom and greyness to things”? “The very stuff of life is extinguished”?

What in the world is this guy talking about? Was this a policy address from the sitting Speaker of the House or Ayn Rand fan fiction from a confused college sophomore?

Indeed, while I realize that for much of the political establishment, Paul Ryan is a celebrated, mainstream Republican, let’s not forget his praise in years past for the author of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.”
“The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand,” Ryan said at a D.C. gathering. […]

At the Rand celebration he spoke at in 2005, Ryan invoked the central theme of Rand’s writings when he told his audience that, “Almost every fight we are involved in here on Capitol Hill … is a fight that usually comes down to one conflict – individualism versus collectivism.”
At one point, Ryan boasted, “I give out ‘Atlas Shrugged’ as Christmas presents, and I make all my interns read it. Well … I try to make my interns read it.”

If Friday’s speech is any indication, Ayn Rand’s influence over the Speaker’s worldview hasn’t waned. Americans wondering why Congress isn’t able to do more constructive policymaking may want to start with Ryan’s bizarre vision of his rivals’ agenda.

In the current political dynamic, it may be tempting to see Paul Ryan as some kind of frustrated moderate, struggling with the intra-party radicals in his midst, victimized by Trump and his extremist followers. Don’t believe it. The Speaker may have no use for his party’s presidential nominee, but that doesn’t push Ryan’s twisted vision any closer to the American mainstream.