Wanted: A tea party Speaker

Such a figure exists. Unfortunately, he’s in the other chamber: He’s Utah’s junior senator, Mike Lee.

Lee has an insurgent’s résumé: He was elected with the Tea Party wave in 2010, defeating an incumbent Republican, Bob Bennett, along the way. He was Ted Cruz’s partner in crime during the government shutdown debates. His scorecard with Heritage Action, often the scourge of G.O.P. leaders, currently stands at 100 percent. And unlike almost every member of the House and Senate leadership, he’s a genuine foe of comprehensive immigration reform.

At the same time, like Ryan (and unlike Cruz), Lee been a real policy entrepreneur. He authored a pro-family tax plan that breaks with some (if perhaps not enough) of the G.O.P. donor class’s orthodoxies. He has offered serious proposals on transportation, higher education and religious liberty. And just this week he was part of a bipartisan breakthrough on criminal justice reform, one of the rare issues where the late Obama years still offer hope for compromise.

In Lee’s ambitions, you can see what the House insurgents want to be — a force that moves conservative policy making away from donor service and toward genuine reform — rather than the purely nihilistic force they often threaten to become. You can see the outlines of the kind of agenda that might satisfy (some) intransigents and also provide some (very) modest ground for bipartisanship.