Paul Ryan stands in the news once again. This time, attention is centered on his quest to become U.S. House Speaker. Two years ago, he stood somewhere else; with fellow congressman Luis Gutierrez at a Chicago rally.
WBEZ reporter Alex Keefe wrote Ryan “stressed that changing the ‘broken’ immigration system goes along with quintessentially Republican ideals. He pointed to his own family’s immigration from Ireland during the Great Famine.”
Gutierrez is one of the biggest supporters of illegal alien amnesty that Congress has ever known. Ryan teamed with Gutierrez to author amnesty legislation which, thank heavens, was never passed.
This ought not be surprising. Ryan has long been a member of the open borders crowd.
During 1994, he decided to join the fray over California’s Proposition 187. Unlike most Republicans, Ryan was on the opposing side. After the referendum found voter approval anyhow, he channeled his activism into a reliable voting record for the interests of mass immigration.
In 2002, 2006, and 2009, he supported measures which would have legalized the residency of an incalculable number of illegal aliens. Can you imagine how this would have played out in the Great Recession?
Back in the 1990s, Ryan was a member of what a Wired Magazine reporter called “the pro-immigration mafia.” Aside from campaigning against 187, this group undermined Rep. Lamar Smith’s efforts to establish practical immigration standards. Wired said Ryan was at the helm of an intra-congressional letter writing scheme designed to erode support for the plan.
“Once people learned what was actually in the bill, we were able to peel them off, one by one,” he boasted.
Nonetheless, Ryan managed score a few pro-citizen votes. He did not embrace the DREAM Act or favor minimal penalties for being in this country unlawfully.
That was before joining up with Gutierrez at the rally, however.
There can be no sugarcoating Ryan’s history on illegal immigration. Considering that America is in a volatile economic climate, there can be little room for his tendencies.
In the long term, Ryan’s brand of conservatism is more than a bit troubling. By focusing on strongly libertarian economic theories, rather than considering imminent realities, it would seem that he is ushering in an era of ivory tower Republicanism. His famed support of Medicare and Social Security privatization, for instance, is politically perilous and socially irresponsible. The same goes for his love affair with free trade policies.
Ryan’s extreme opposition to abortion services also deserves public scrutiny.
Amid his now-infamous vice presidential debate with Joe Biden, rather than just restate Mitt Romney’s comments from earlier in the week, Ryan failed to specify if pro-choice Americans should worry about whether abortion would remain legal under a Romney-Ryan administration.
Biden soon stepped in and explained the likelihood of this. His case was tremendously convincing; much to the Republican ticket’s detriment.
For all of Ryan’s posturing as a down-home, common sense Midwesterner, it appears that he has spent his political career advocating against the interests of regular Jacks and Janes. Whether it be the factory man who loses his job to low-cost labor in the third world or the working woman who finds herself in the midst of an unexpected and unwanted pregnancy, Ryan’s ideas pave roadblocks in the way of those struggling to get by.
Perhaps this is understandable as Ryan has been a public officeholder or political operative for most of his adult life. He is afforded the luxury of crafting daring pieces of legislation without ever having to face the brunt of their consequences. One must remember that for all of his small government rhetoric, he is paid a very comfortable public sector salary, with benefits that the overwhelming majority of Americans could only dream about.
He is in a position to say quite impressive things; a position provided by the system he wishes to throttle. There is more than a hint of immaturity, if not hypocrisy, behind his plans. This tells of a man who has very limited professional experience outside the political realm.
No surprise that Paul Ryan is the textbook definition of a career politician. What better argument could there be for opposing his ascent to Speaker of the House?
Joseph Cotto is a historical and social journalist, and writes about politics, economics and social issues. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org