Voters: Please Ask the Paul Ryan Question

One can’t call U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) or Prince William BOCS Chair Corey Stewart (R) “cold and timid souls.” McCain and Stewart have taken strong, diametrically opposed positions regarding Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump.

At the Muckraker we think Trump is abhorrent on multiple levels, even if the events of the last month had never occurred nor come to light. We laud John McCain for his stance in revoking his endorsement of Trump. We’re appalled that Corey Stewart sides with Trump, but in his steadfast support find it impossible to accuse him of the cowardice that would place him with the “cold and timid souls.”


Who exemplifies those “cold and timid souls?” House Speaker Paul Ryan.

You can’t simultaneously be for and against Donald Trump. You’re either for him or you’re against him. Trying to be both, as Ryan is doing, is . . . cowardly.

Prince William County has two Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives: Rob Whittman and Barbara Comstock. They need to be asked the Paul Ryan question.

“If you are re-elected to Congress, will you support Paul Ryan for Speaker of the House, and why or why not?”

Why is that question important? For two reasons.

First, it’s important because it’s yet another indicator to voters how much of the candidate’s stance on Trump is based on principle rather than political calculation. If Barbara Comstock, for example, says she is against Trump and for Paul Ryan, then she shows that she is willing to truly risk alienating Trump supporters.

If a candidate says they are against Trump and also against Ryan, then the “why or why not” part of the question is particularly critical to avoid allowing them to try to do exactly what Ryan himself is trying to do – have it both ways. Saying you’re against Ryan because he has not unendorsed Trump, for example, would indicate a principled stand. To simply say you’re against Ryan is a sign the candidate is trying to minimize alienating Trump voters.

Of course, the ultimate political cowardice is for a candidate to say they are for both Trump and Ryan. Given the context and substance of the Trump-Ryan breach, that is no longer really possible.

The second reason the question is important is that it’s an unfortunate truth that under Republican control the position of Speaker of the House has gone from a paradigm of leadership to a paradigm of political cowardice. Despite how nice a guy everyone considered John Boehner to be, he was a terrible Speaker of the House. During his tenure there was a tremendous amount of legislation with broad bipartisan support that easily would have passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate if brought to a vote. For it to pass above the objections of a relatively-small minority of extreme right-wing House Republicans, however, would have required just a small number of Democratic votes in the House (of which there were more than enough). Boehner, however, refused to bring such items to a vote unless they could pass solely with Republican support (employing the so-called Hastert rule, named after former Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert, who has since been convicted of being a serial child-molester).

In other words, legislation that easily commanded a majority in the House of Representatives was never even brought to a vote because Boehner caved to a sub-party in the House, like he was the Prime Minister of a parliamentary democracy held hostage by a fringe party that controlled the balance of power in a ruling coalition. It’s the single most important reason for the dysfunction and deadlock in Washington.

If you care about American democracy, ask Rob Whittman and Barbara Comstock the Paul Ryan question and pay attention to their answers.

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2 comments on “Voters: Please Ask the Paul Ryan Question

  1. -

    I’m so glad to see you are back. You are totally right. Trump voters have threatened not to support Comstock and Wittman owes it to all of us to tell us his plans since he wants to run for Governor.

    (One suggestion I’m going to add is that you might want to report on the crazy lawsuit against school board members. The principal was running a little league out of the school office and yet he has sued to intimidate them from holding him accountable for it.)

  2. -

    No one should assume Comstock is acting on principle. She dumped Trump to woo moderate voters in a competitive race and because she wants Trump to lose so she can run for Tim Kaine’s seat when he becomes VP. She knows she can’t win the seat outright if Kaine is holding it two years from now, but she could win a special election next year and then hold it the following year. She needs and wants Trump to lose.

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