Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) says in American politics today, it’s easy to be “disheartened.”
Speaking on the state of American politics and taking questions from Capitol Hill interns on Wednesday morning, Ryan said, “It is so easy to get disheartened” about what is happening in American politics today.
Ryan delivered his remarks from the House Ways and Means Committee room where he used to serve as the chairman before replacing John Boehner (R-OH) as House Speaker in October.
“It is here in this committee that we debate some of the biggest most consequential issues,” Ryan said, referencing tax reform, trade, health care, welfare reform and entitlement reform. “We took our jobs very seriously here on this committee.”
“We disagreed without being disagreeable,” he recalled. “It sounds like a scene unfamiliar to many in your generation.”
“I see myself in each and every one of you,” he told the interns, sharing with them that he first came to Washington, D.C. as a curious college intern.
“Our political discourse, both the kind that we see on TV and the kind that we experience among each other, it did not used to be this bad. It does not have to be this way,” he stressed. “Instead of talking about what politics is today, I want to talk to you about what politics can be.”
“America is the only nation founded on an idea not on an identity,” he told the interns. “That idea is a beautiful idea, the condition of your birth does not determine the outcome of your life.”
“Instead of playing to your anxieties, we can appeal to your aspirations,” Ryan said about politicians to the voters. “We just don’t resort to scaring you…we dare to inspire you.”
“We don’t just win your support. We win the argument,” he added, explaining that this is how to have a “confident America.”
“We question each others ideas vigorously, but we don’t question each others motives,” he directed. “We all know someone who we love that disagrees with us politically or votes differently,” but in a confident America we don’t shut people down, Ryan stated, referencing the division in American politics today.
“We don’t insult them into agreeing with us. We try to persuade them,” he added. “We shouldn’t accept ugliness as the norm.”
He said leaders should “talk about ideas” and “not trade insults.”
Ryan did not reference any particular 2016 presidential candidate during his speech.