Elevating Paul Ryan to the House speakership, where he will be one of the main public faces of the Republican party, suggests that the party’s poobahs and panjandrums still haven’t learned their lesson. Ryan as chairman of Ways and Means worked. Ryan as the de facto leader of the GOP does not, for three reasons:
GOP to its own voters: Drop dead. Eric Cantor lost his primary last year because he was out of step with Republican voters on immigration. Speaker-designate Kevin McCarthy was forced to pass on the big chair because he was out of step with Republican voters on immigration. Even Speaker Boehner’s fall was partly due to his being out of step with Republican voters on immigration.
So whom do elected Republicans pass the mantle of leadership to? Someone who is more out of step with Republican voters on immigration than any of these men. Neither Cantor nor McCarthy nor Boehner are ideologically committed to unlimited immigration; for them, immigration is a political and financial issue, to be managed and gamed. Ryan, on the other hand, is a true believer, a Kempite supporter of the free movement of people into the United States.