Paul Ryan must step down from the speakership – now

Paul Ryan's lack of political judgment and the chaos that his political cluelessness regularly causes the GOP are nowhere more evident than in his nonsensical plan to lead his House membership into the 2018 midterm election just before retiring to Wisconsin.

In the 1994 midterm election campaign, Newt Gingrich promised voters that if they gave him and his party a majority in the House, he'd schedule a vote on all the issues listed in his proposed Contract with America.  The electorate looked at Newt's program, liked it, and voted for him so he could do what he promised to do.  Newt was clearer about this than most, but any congressional leader going into an election says, in effect: vote for me and my party, and I'll do X, Y, and Z for you.

But what can Ryan say?  Vote for me and my members, and I'll wish you well from my retirement home?  Some election manifesto.  A man who is retiring can't lead his party into an election, because he'll need to talk about what he is going to do with the mandate he is asking the electorate for.  Ryan can't do that.

This point is so obvious that it should not need to be made – but not to the politically obtuse Ryan.  Why are House Republicans not speaking up?  Isn't there anyone in the GOP with the brains or the guts to tell him that what he proposes to do is utterly absurd?  A leader in an election campaign must be able to say where the party under his leadership is going to take the country after the election.  Ryan must immediately get out of the way so that a new leader can do just that.

Note that Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy sees nothing wrong with Ryan's intent.  Evidently, it'll be no use looking to McCarthy for better political judgment.

John M. Ellis is a professor emeritus at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Image courtesy of Flickr.

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