On Saturday, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney picked Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan to be his running mate. Anecdotal evidence seems to show that the enthusiasm has definitely increased among conservative voters for the Romney campaign. The crowds have gotten larger at Romney-Ryan events. However, similar anecdotal evidence seems to show that the left is just as fired up and more motivated to defend Obama. Meanwhile, reading the Tweets and Facebook posts from my libertarian friends show that the Ryan pick has not made them more willing to consider the Romney ticket. Personally, I have mixed feelings about the Ryan selection.
The biggest positive about the Ryan selection is that this campaign may actually wind up being a debate on the future of our country. The Obama campaign is already seizing on the Ryan budget plan and is attacking it as destroying Medicare, Social Security, and just about every other government program under the sun. Now is an opportunity for the Romney-Ryan campaign to articulate an argument for limiting the size and scope of government as a means of reviving the economy. The American people would be well served by a debate over the size and scope of government. Also, ultimately, given the other choices that Romney was considering, Ryan was probably the best pick. Romney needed to pick someone who would fire up the ticket.
As a libertarian, I approve of Mitt Romney’s vice presidential choice. Naturally, I expect this statement to inflame a certain subset of the movement - but to those of you who are invested in mainstreaming libertarian thought, particularly within the Republican Party, I hope you’ll consider why the Ryan pick is actually a victory for us - on an intellectual level.
The reality is that we’re contending with a tale of two Paul Ryans. The Paul Ryan that I like, and encourage other libertarians to embrace, is Vice Presidential candidate Ryan - the man with a natural gift for communicating; who articulates the dire need for entitlement reform and balanced budgets effectively (which I recognize and appreciate, even if I disagree with some aspects of his plans). Before we can enact the bolder reforms of, say for example, Senator Rand Paul, the public needs to be introduced to the notion that entitlement programs are no longer the third rail of politics. Vice Presidential candidate Ryan is different from his evil twin Congressman Ryan, whose voting record libertarians should rightfully reject. But we need to understand the difference between the two Paul Ryans, and how one can be our enemy while the other is our friend.
With the USS Wisconsin serving as the backdrop, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney formally introduced Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate this morning in Norfolk, Virginia, a very crucial battleground state.
Ryan will no doubt be a controversial pick. His budget proposals have been endlessly demagogued by President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. However, those same budgets have helped put the House GOP’s focus back on fiscal issues more than wedge social issues.
Over the last four years, President Obama has been unable to piece together a budget that could attract enough support to pass Congress. In fact, when Obama’s budget was brought up for a vote in the House, it was shot down unanimously. The Senate followed in May, rejecting Obama’s budget without a single vote in support.
While Obama’s campaign will no doubt be gunning for Romney’s running mate over his budget proposals — the “Roadmap for America’s Future” and the “Path to Prosperity,” don’t expect Ryan to back down. Ryan has taken on Obama before over fiscal policy, making the President’s rhetoric look cheap in the process.
If you’e heading down to the Republican National Convention next week in Tampa, you may run into Vice President Joe Biden. That’s right, folks, the Obama campaign’s worst spokesman, just two weeks after saying that the Romney-Ryan ticket would allow Wall Street to put African-Americans “back in chains,” is going to be in a city crowded with Republicans:
Vice President Joe Biden has plans to be in Tampa during the Republican National Convention next week, the Obama campaign said Tuesday. Biden has events in Tampa and in other cities next Monday and Tuesday, the campaign said.
In addition, “a strong bench” of surrogates will be in the Tampa area as well.
While visiting a Minneapolis high school Tuesday afternoon, Biden seemed to embrace his role in Tampa turning to reporters traveling with him, “Who’s going to Florida with me? Any of you going to be in Florida?
“Well I’m the speaker at the convention,” he continued to laughs. “I’m going to be down there.”
What could go wrong?
As noted earlier this week, American Crossroads launched a rather snarky ad endorsing Biden for Vice President, as opposed to someone else on the Democratic Party ticket, because of his proclivity for gaffes:
By now most have given their opinion of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate. In all of the commentary I have noticed a disturbing trend: grassroots conservatives and some libertarians think there is an upside to the pick.
Most notably for me is Corie Whalen’s praise of Romney’s pick as “victory…on an intellectual level.” Corie’s view is that the Paul Ryan post-VP pick contrasts that of the other Paul Ryan, with the former being more libertarian-ish than the latter. Her theory - and it sounds nice - is that Congressman Ryan will sow the seeds of a more libertarian populace by introducing and articulating certain ideas more favorable to free markets and sensible fiscal policy. She goes on to admit that Ryan’s voting record during his tenure in congress has been anything but libertarian.
I’m used to people falling for a candidate’s rhetoric without actually analyzing their record, but to have someone admit that a candidate’s record is abhorrent yet praise them for their rhetoric is…strange. But does Corie have a point? His record aside, is Paul Ryan’s rhetoric good for libertarianism?
No even close, because libertarianism at its heart is anti-rhetoric. Libertarianism concerns itself with actions not words. Libertarianism rejects politics as usual in favor of principled representatives who will walk the walk. Paul Ryan can talk a pretty talk, but he does not have the record to match his rhetoric.
When people become enamored purely with rhetoric they place inadequate stock into actions. Until this trend is reversed, politicians will continue to contort themselves to fit the need and say whatever it takes to get elected; until this behavior is rejected by the populace, libertarianism will not flourish.
The honest answer is that it probably means nothing. I don’t think there’s been an election in my lifetime that was impacted by the second person on a presidential ticket.
And a quick look at Intrade.com shows that Ryan’s selection hasn’t (at least yet) moved the needle. Obama is still in the high 50s.
Moreover, the person who becomes Vice President usually plays only a minor role in Administration policy.
With those caveats out of the way, the Ryan pick is mostly good news.
Here are the reasons why I’m happy.