Commentary Magazine


Signs Of Life

Paul Ryan gives a peek at what the future of the GOP could look like, and shows why many find him an engaging leader for the next generation. He calls for more than just fiscal sobriety:

We must also offer bold alternatives to the destructive tax policies that the Democratic majority will work to enact. We must go beyond simply calling for lower taxes. We need a complete overhaul of our tax code. At a time of fierce global competition, the individual and business tax reforms I put forth earlier this year would encourage companies to invest in America, promote jobs here at home, and strengthen the paychecks of American workers.

We must take control of the health-care debate, and champion patient-centered alternatives to the socialized health-care proposals advocated by the Democrats. Health-care decisions should be made by individuals and their providers, not government bureaucrats or insurance company bureaucrats. We need to offer reforms that make health care more affordable, more portable and more transparent, while strengthening the social safety net.

We cannot simply put up roadblocks to the emboldened Democratic majority. We need to offer an alternative future. Absent reform, our federal government will double in size within a generation. We must change course from this path of stagnation, and we must have leaders willing to provide a path that keeps alive the American ideal and keeps our government limited.

That sounds intriguing and positive. Still there are obvious limits to what Ryan can accomplish, at least now. For starters, the House GOP is on the verge of choosing the same House Minority Leader who presided over the losing election. John Boehner, not Paul Ryan, is the one that most voters will see as the face of the GOP.  And, of course, the nation’s entire focus will be on the new President and his policies. There won’t be much time or attention for Ryan’s laudable ideas.

Still, this is the direction the GOP must take. Work on ideas that address real issues, provide alternatives to shopworn liberalism, and build the next generation of leaders. That is how a party seizes the opportunity, should one present itself by virtue of the opposition’s overreach.