I’ve made no secret out of the fact that I’ve long been rooting for Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal for Mitt Romney’s running mate selection, but when I went to check my e-mail and the Twitters one last time before hittin’ the hay last night and saw the Paul Ryan news, I had about a twelve-second rush of confused and conflicting emotions before deciding that, actually… this is kind of awesome.
I was really afraid there for a while that Romney would go with Rob Portman or Tim Pawlenty — as competent as either of them might be, I’m sorry, but I confess that I side with the “vanilla”-detractors on that one. They’d just be so boring. And while a lot of the speculators were speculatin’ that Paul Ryan’s fiscal reform and budget proposals will be a liability because of the way the Left will hammer and distort them, I don’t happen to see it that way. Paul Ryan is one of the few politicians who has dared to suggest comprehensive, viable solutions to our dramatically unsustainable national spending habits. That is a good thing, and if we can frame it simply and correctly (ay, there’s the rub!), I think people will respond in the positive.
I’ve heard quite a few fellow conservatives express their ire that his plans don’t go far enough, and in a more perfect and ideal world, I’d wholeheartedly agree with them — but buck up, friends. It’s important to stand tall for your principles, but this isn’t a more perfect and ideal world. Huge, sweeping, and sudden changes are just not part of the infrastructure of our two-party republic. Sometimes you’ve gotta’ do things by halves to work toward a whole — it’s a heck of a lot better than doing nothing.
Our national debt, fueled by our rapacious entitlement programs, is perhaps the most utterly predictable, self-inflicted, and calamitously far-reaching problem in modern history. Honestly, it’s so painfully laughable when people accuse free enterprise of fueling human greed, when big government is so clearly what allows the negative aspects of greed to flourish. If you haven’t picked up on this yet (tee hee), freedom and free markets are pretty much my political guiding lights: Their penetrating power to solve all manner of material ills, without coercion or affectation, is unparalleled. Whatever their other political faults may be, I think Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan truly understand and respect free markets. While Mitt sometimes stumbles on communicating that message (“corporations are people” and “I like firing people” = essentially true, but unfortunately not the most appealing way to say it), I’ve only ever heard clarifying and effective free-market testaments from Paul Ryan so far.
Along with my Townhall buddy Guy Benson, I had the opportunity to sit down for a lengthy interview with Paul Ryan in the Capitol offices last summer. I usually approach all politicians’ sincerity with extreme skepticism, but I was amazed at how friendly, easygoing, earnest, polite, casual, and engaging Ryan was. Democrats are going to have their work cut out for them trying to make him look like a bad guy, because I really believe people are going to naturally like him. Oh, did I mention brilliant? Because the man was passionately spouting off about complex fiscal and tax scenarios like they were as simple as the ABCs.
Every time I’ve written about Paul Ryan since then, I’ve referred to him as a hard-hitting fiscal guru — and more than anything, that’s what America needs right now. His common sense and doggedness are invaluable, and I’m hoping this will be a positive and definitive step in moving America away from intellectually cheap populism and instead making free enterprise cool again. Let’s do this.