Paul Ryan goes on offense

He’s letting proposals develop organically through the process of regular order, with committee chairmen taking point on issues under their jurisdiction. The rollout is planned for the spring and summer so that, by the time the Republican National Convention begins in Cleveland on July 18, the public has a sense of what Republicans would do with the White House and Congress. He says the public will like what it sees. “Republicans win ideas contests. Democrats typically win personality contests.”

Do ideas matter? It’s a question I’ve been thinking about lately. The rise of Donald Trump, whose ideas on immigration and trade and foreign policy are so different from those of the last Republican president, has made me wonder if ideas are not as important as the sentiments, emotions, passions, attachments, jealousies, and resentments of the groups and individuals who argue for them.

“Principle matters most,” Ryan says after a pause. “And ideas come from principles. Liberty, freedom, self-determination, and government by consent: If you want a government that reflects that, you have to commit yourself publicly to these principles. Ideas are motivating. Ideas are inspirational. Ideas are unifying. As conservatives, we need to win converts. This is what we think is necessary to go out and win converts.”