Guest Column: Paul Ryan Ready to Lead Country to Change
Local blogger James Wigderson shares his views on Sunday night's rally for presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Wisconsin's Congressman Paul Ryan, the vice president pick.
At the Waukesha Expo Center, more than 13,000 of Congressman Paul Ryan’s friends, family, fellow Republican office holders, and a host of energized Republicans came to celebrate his being picked as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s running mate in the run to the White House. Just two months ago, Republicans were gathered on the same site to celebrate Governor Scott Walker’s victory in the recall election. Sunday even more Republicans came to cheer the Romney’s pick of Ryan for vice president.
Many more people were stuck in a long traffic jam just to get to the Expo center. Senator Ron Johnson told the crowd he needed a police escort to get there in time to speak. When I arrived at 3:45 p.m., the line of cars stretched from the entrance around the neighboring airport. One television reporter said the line of cars backed all the way to the freeway exit.
Some in the crowd were a little cranky about the accommodations, but most were happy to be there to be a part of history. Congressman Tom Petri stole a line from former Gov. Tommy Thompson, telling the crowd it’s a great day to be a Republican in Wisconsin.
And it is. If Republicans had any doubt, all they had to do was look at the lineup of speakers at Sunday’s rally. It was State Attorney General JB Van Hollen who pointed out it was just 2006 when he was the only Republican elected to statewide office. Now Wisconsin Republicans can point to the stage and see Walker, Senator Ron Johnson, and even Lt Governor Rebecca Kleefisch who received national attention during the recall.
Throw in Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, the former Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman, and you understand why National Review’s Jim Geraghty wrote on Twitter, “2010-2012: When Wisconsin Took Over America's Politics.”
When Priebus took over the state party, he understood Republicans had a problem of not living up to their message of limited government and fiscal responsibility. When the Tea Party movement started, Priebus embraced the movement and challenged them to hold the Republican Party accountable. It was those moments that set the stage for Walker to become governor and Johnson to become senator.
When Walker ran for governor in 2010, Wisconsin was ready to embrace a politician that believed in limited government and would follow through on putting Wisconsin’s fiscal house in order. Walker won and kept the promise of restoring balance to the state’s books. Walker’s steadfastness was rewarded with another victory over the Democrats in June.
Along with Walker, Johnson was elected senator on a promise to fight for restoring fiscal discipline in Washington D.C. Now Johnson is a nationally recognized figure for his efforts.
Priebus, Walker, and Johnson have all attained status as national political figures not because they’re the smoothest politicians or because they hand out with Hollywood starlets. They became national figures because they are fighting for the principles of limited government and fiscal responsibility. And the American people are responding.
Ryan has been fighting for those beliefs for some time now, before they became a little fashionable. I remember when his Road Map was presented before a skeptical audience in Janesville in 2008. At the time I wondered if Ryan was heading into a political dead end. Since then Ryan has prevailed in a district that was won by President Barack Obama in 2008. He’s become the chairman of the Budget Committee. It is his ideas that are driving the debate over spending in Washington D.C.
In picking Ryan to be his running mate, Romney made this election about the idea of controlling federal spending and setting the course for future economic growth. At the rally in Waukesha Sunday evening, Wisconsinites showed that they were ready to bring that message to the rest of the country.
In the 1850s in a little school house in Ripon, a new political party was formed that would change the course of our country, the Republican Party. Now, the party of Lincoln is poised to change the direction of our country again. How fitting, then, that it should be led by figures like Walker, Johnson, and Priebus. Who better to lead that change than Ryan?