Reno Gazette Journal April 22, 2018
Last week, Speaker Paul Ryan announced that he is retiring from Congress. After nearly two decades as Congressman and less than three years as Speaker, the Congressman from Janesville, Wisconsin will bid goodbye to Congress leaving a huge void for the Republicans in the House. In his retirement speech, Speaker Ryan said that he is retiring because he did not want to be a “weekend father”. In a strange coincidence, the Speaker’s daughter is the same age now (16) as young Paul Ryan was when his father died. All three of the Speaker’s children are teenagers and anyone who has followed Paul Ryan knows he is a family man. The Ryan family gains a husband and a father; the nation loses an honorable Speaker who was reluctant to accept the job in the first place.
The most honorable people leave politics well before the people get tired of them. Back in 1795, my favorite founding father Alexander Hamilton left George Washington’s cabinet even though he was the most powerful man of that time not named Washington. Just like Speaker Ryan, then Treasury Secretary Hamilton resigned to be close to his family in New York. In Speaker Ryan’s case, he probably felt he had accomplished everything he could accomplish in the foreseeable future. Politically, Paul Ryan had two major objectives: Tax reform and entitlement reform. Tax reform is now complete. As for significant entitlement reform, the chances of it passing the Senate (where the Republicans are nowhere near the required super majority of 60) is somewhere between slim and none. That being the case, Paul Ryan did not see the point in sticking around. He is not a typical politician who clings on to power; if there is nothing left to accomplish, it is time to move on.
The speculation in some circles is that Paul Ryan is leaving because he sees a blue wave coming. While we are a long way from the election, chances are, Republicans will gain anywhere from 2-6 seats in the Senate. While it is possible that the Republicans will lose ground in the House, it is highly unlikely they will lose the majority. Besides, Ryan is extremely competitive and will do everything in his power to seal his legacy by handing the gavel to another Republican. Ryan’s departure will be felt most in terms of making the compromises necessary to bring the moderates and the conservatives together. Ryan was also adept at working with President Trump who has an unconventional style. Ryan was able to keep the President focused with his tweets during the tax reform process (probably more than anyone at any other time).
One final point: When an honorable man voluntarily leaves office, regardless of the political party, it is a loss for America. Paul Ryan’s departure is an enormous loss for America. There are many politicians I respect on both sides of the aisle and it goes well beyond their party affiliation. It has everything to do with how intelligent they are and how they conducted themselves while in office. To paraphrase Simon and Garfunkel, God bless you please, Paul Ryan. Thank you for your service to this great country.