Vice presidential candidate and Rep. Paul Ryan’s recent visit to a soup kitchen definitely raised some eyebrows. In case you missed it, The Huffington Post explained that Ryan, R-Wis., his wife and several of his associates “ramrodded their way” into a soup kitchen in order to stage an unauthorized photo session of Ryan helping out at a soup kitchen.
While politicians usually have their own personal agendas in mind when doing public things like visiting soup kitchens, Ryan’s visit was a little different.The kitchen had already finished serving those in need and was empty, and the dishes Ryan picked up to clean for the photos were already cleaned.
I’ve respected Ryan until now during the presidential campaigns, despite the fact my critical thinking skills shudder at the mention of any politician who praises objectivism, a philosophy that should more aptly be called “There’s-a-right-answer-and-I-obviously-know-it-so-I-don’t-ever-need-to-consider-that-my-own-views-might-be-wrong.” I don’t agree with his positions and reform plans, but at least he had been a fairly respectable guy.
The visit is in especially bad taste when you consider Ryan’s only ever been sighted once at any soup kitchen, shelter or used-clothes outlet. He has no history of understanding why he should help those who haven’t had the same fortune and opportunities as he. But hey, that definitely qualifies him to be former Gov. Mitt Romney’s running mate.
It seems Ryan has come to believe in Romney’s campaign subterfuges, and that’s shattered any respect I had for him.
First, Ryan’s visit furthers the idea the Romney campaign is not in touch with, and, more importantly, does not care about those in need. Rather, the campaign sees them as a way to make the Romney-Ryan ticket look good to voters. Put differently, the Romney-Ryan campaign sees interacting with and helping those in need is just a means to an end, instead of the end itself.
Second, Ryan’s staged soup kitchen visit reinforces the fact the current Republican presidential and vice presidential candidates run on illusions. They try to appear as one thing while being another. All that glitters is not gold, but actually kitchen utensils that were already clean.
Third, the visit makes Wisconsin look like disgraceful scum, especially considering, as The Journal Times reports, Ryan is the first Wisconsinite to become part of a major party ticket. Great. Our state’s two most influential politicians are either questionably involved in a misconduct investigation or staging fake photos to win votes. How honorable.
If a voter considers him or herself a conservative, that is not in any way sufficient proof they’re ignorant, arrogant or worthy of being branded by any similar adjective. Republicans have done great things for this state and country, just as Democrats have. It sucks to see a rogue idiot like Ryan go and prove liberals’ fears; It justifies the views of outliers who scream conspiracy at the smallest Republican misstep.
Regardless of which party you side with, you’ve got to admit Ryan’s soup kitchen stunt is worth serious admonition. The standard of truth for candidates running for office, Democrats included, needs to be reinforced, and this is a perfect example of why.
Reginald Young (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior majoring in legal studies and Scandinavian studies.