Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is a businesslike politician, which is an important asset for the party that wants to cut through ideological madness and put America back in business. When the opponents of fiscal sanity demand details from would-be reformers, all they have to do is toss out a link to Ryan’s “Roadmap for America’s Future” website. His CPAC speech on Thursday afternoon was a finely tuned combination of youthful idealism (he appears to have inherited Dick Clark’s vat of eternal youth elixir) and careful intelligence.
Ryan’s central point is that “society’s potential problems are unlimited, so the size of a government that would try to solve them all is unlimited.” Every inch added to the waistline of this bloated government was the result of an eager constituency feeding it bon-bons and donuts.
Ryan decried the “systematic replacement of the rule of law with the rule of man,” an elegant way of explaining how the absolute restraints of Constitutional law dissolve when the limits of government are set by the momentary passions of politicians. Iron laws that restrain the size of the State are the greatest “power” of the people; what they exert through elections is influence, and that’s not the same thing. Ryan cautioned those who expect government to address all of society’s needs that “the rule of law by the people must be reduced and the role of government ‘experts’ must be increased” under their world view.
“Progressives assume there must be some group of people who have all the knowledge and all the answers,” said Ryan, but the defenders of liberty understand that “each person is the world’s top expert on his or her own unique skills.”
He does not find the degenerate state of the Obama economy surprising. “Free markets and the rule of law will always be the rock of our prosperity – there are no substitutes,” he declared, shattering the “fable” that “there is no future unless the government wins the future for us.” If the government holds the answers to all social ills, then every check on its power becomes essentially immoral – the opponents of Big Government are getting in the way of its important and righteous work.
Plenty of arguments from the modern Democrat Party are based on this reasoning, which Ryan finds utterly bankrupt. “The path to prosperity is not through solar shingles and high speed rail,” he scoffed. “It lies through releasing liberty.” That’s a wonderful phrase, conjuring an entirely appropriate image of vast energies held back by dead-end leftist ideology.
A review of his Roadmap reveals that Paul Ryan knows the challenge of changing our national course will not be easy to meet, but his determination springs from his confidence in the outcome… and his understanding of the depths where our current course will take us. “We owe it to the country to let them choose in 2012, not have the government make the choices for them,” he told the CPAC audience. “The numbers are cruel, the policies are certain, the trajectory is clear.” His eagerness to start pouring asphalt on that road to the future is infectious.