On Thursday, the House of Representatives elected Paul Ryan at its Speaker. As the telegenic 45-year-old from Wisconsin was sworn into office, Speaker Ryan gave a speech just shy of fifteen minutes long to his 434 colleagues–but the American people were watching as well.
Snippets of Ryan’s remarks aired on the evening news, and quotes appeared in the Friday papers. And our electronically wired society guarantees that Ryan’s message was and will be broadcast on smartphones, posted on social media sites–and certainly broken up into 140-letter excerpts and released into the Twitterverse.
That said, the message of Ryan’s inaugural speech was not crafted for a broad audience–it did not lay out a broad, bold agenda and foreshadow for those Americans paying attention where this new leader wanted to take the country.
Speaker Ryan’s remarks were, for the most part, inside baseball. Multiple times Ryan referred to “regular order,” which to the common person sounds like a reference to getting the same fast food at McDonalds every time you go.
In the midst of his own carefully prepared oratory, Ryan even acknowledged, “I know this sounds like process.”
Yes, it did. It was an in-the-weeds speech that not only had limited–if any–appeal to the average American. But one had to wonder if the target were the surprisingly large number of trained parliamentarians who happen to serve in the House.
There is no doubt that the ability to effectively run the internal workings of such an important institution as the United States Congress is important–but Paul Ryan has the ability, the bold ideas, and the charisma to do something as Speaker that his recent predecessors simply could not. Namely: Ryan could inspire not only his fellow House members, but people across the country by effectively communicating strong, conservative, pro-growth ideas and policies that, if enacted, will increase liberty and freedom for all Americans.
In 1975 Ronald Reagan gave a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in which he said, “Our people look for a cause to believe in. Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people.”
The Gipper was famous for being eternal optimist, but he also was known for boldly espousing the conservative ideals and ideas that he knew would make America great. In doing so he first unified his party, and then his nation.
Given the particular frustration felt by conservatives these days, as we have seen play out in internal House politics and the GOP’s presidential primary, the need for Speaker Ryan to step up and inspire the party faithful–yes, inside of the Beltway, but more importantly around the country–is great.
Perhaps Speaker Ryan should draw inspiration from another historical figure. It was over 700 years ago that Sir William Wallace sought to bring together a fractured Scottish people and fight for their independence. Of course most Americans appreciate Wallace’s place in history from the award-winning movie of twenty years ago, Braveheart.
In that film, Braveheart (Mel Gibson) gave an inspired speech in front of thousands of Scots, mostly peasants, who had gathered under long odds to fight the English to be free…
I am William Wallace. And I see a whole army of my countrymen, here in defiance of tyranny! You have come to fight as free men. And free man you are! What will you do without freedom? Will you fight? Two thousand against ten?
[A veteran shouts: “No! We will run–and live!”]
Yes! Fight and you may die. Run and you will live at least awhile. And dying in your bed many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here as young men and tell our enemies that they may take our lives but they will never take our freedom!
While we are not in a war for our independence, we are in a battle against the tyranny of big government–and a battle against the idea that government should be the solution for all problems.
If we could make Gibson’s character into a verb – I would say that it is time for Paul Ryan to “William Wallace” the Congress, and the nation. There is an opportunity to lead forcefully, unite conservatives, and pass meaningful legislation out of the House that, if it doesn’t become law, becomes the promise of what comes with a Republican President.
With inspired and forceful leadership, Ryan can bring all of those together on Capitol Hill who believe that it is time to reverse growth in the public sector and increase it in the private sector–and make great things happen.
Ryan can do this without sacrificing his commitment for egalitarian “regular order” in the House. But it will be the inspiring communicator that is able to produce a cohesive and effective policy agenda from a united House Republican Conference and unify conservatives across the country.
Jon Fleischman is the Politics Editor of Breitbart California. You can follow him on Twitter @flashreport. You can email Jon at firstname.lastname@example.org.