It was time for someone to step up and assume the volatile role of Speaker of the House for the sake of the Republican party and the nation at large.
Who can blame Ryan for denying the Speaker of the House position initially? It is a very powerful position that would put him third in line to the presidency and next in line for the vice presidency. But being House Speaker means being undermined and constantly chastised for not pushing through unrealistic, extremely far right-wing legislation.
Congressional entities like the Freedom Caucus have wreaked havoc on the speakership over the last few years through threats to shut the government down and direct challenges to authority.
They’ve wreaked so much havoc it caused former Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to retire at the end of the month and caused his likely replacement, U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-California, to drop out of the speaker’s race the day of the vote.
The departure of McCarthy from the speaker race meant the campaign and subsequent vote was likely to turn into an unmitigated shitshow, the likes of which would have set congressional Republicans back even further.
US Rep. Paul Ryan announces candidacy for Speaker of the HouseU.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, announced Thursday he is officially running for Speaker of the House after Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Read…
In addition to his announcement, he also laid out terms that needed to be met in order for him to serve. These terms included a demand that the major factions within the Republican Conference endorse him and for those groups to refrain from attempts to remove him from the speaker’s chair if he makes a decision they disagree with.
It is a very risky move to challenge these powerful groups. Putting the onus on the Freedom Caucus to vocalize their support for Ryan prior to a vote could have potentially alienated them and caused even more problems down the road.
Luckily it was a move that paid off, with the Freedom Caucus voting over the weekend to endorse Ryan for speaker, with 65 to 70 percent support.
With the support of the Freedom Caucus, Ryan was able to do what McCarthy couldn’t, which was to guarantee a vote of confidence as he ascends to the speakership.
Ryan was able to do this because he has proven himself as a leader in Congress who is not afraid to reach across the aisle to get things done.
The bipartisan budget agreement of two years ago that helped prevent another government shutdown is proof of this. He has also been one of the only notable people in Congress to have presented alternative proposals for important and contentious issues like social security, tax reform and Medicaid.
This reputation and the goodwill he has built up with his colleagues during his time in Congress more than qualifies him to serve as speaker. With his actions this past week, Ryan has shown he is competent, and needed in this current political climate.
What Ryan did this past week was both rare and powerful. He exemplified the ideal public servant: someone who answers the call to serve even against his own best interests and does things not for personal exposure or opportunity, but because it’s something that has to be done.
This point is illuminated by U.S. Rep. Tom Cole’s, R-Oklahoma, comment on the possibility of Ryan becoming speaker.
“The man and the moment have met.”
That is a perfect encapsulation of what has transpired with Ryan during this process. If getting a supermajority of the most conservative members of Congress to endorse him while doing little to no campaigning is any indication of what Ryan can do as speaker, then despite his reluctance, Ryan just might be the man who meets the moment when the House votes Wednesday.