That question was asked by Joe Scarborough on his MSNBC show. The answer should be a resounding "YES!"
Yesterday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had a great piece on Paul Ryan and his rise on the national scene (read the whole thing - it's great). We here at LIB are definitely Ryan fans and I think that the portrait the Journal Sentinel paints is a great blueprint for the future of the Party and the conservative cause. Even though Ryan says "I'm not looking to become some famous conservative movement leader. I just don't see that as my role. That's not my thing. I want to be a policy leader." Sorry, Paul, but whether you want it or not, you're already leading the charge.
It's refreshing to see a politician lay out alternatives and substantive policy reforms. Ryan is a policy wonk, a numbers nerd. The current economic crisis and government expansion is the perfect storm for Ryan's strengths to bring him to the national stage.
I love that his mentor was Jack Kemp - a man dedicated to the idea of a big-tent party and respectful disagreement. "Jack had a huge influence on me, his brand of inclusive conservatism, his pro-growth, happy-warrior style. That was infectious to me," says Ryan. The young Congressman has some good advice for the Rush/Hannity crowd: "Look, Barack Obama is doing what he thinks is right. I just disagree with him. I don't think the man is evil or sinister. I just think he's liberal."
It's not about identity politics or endless division. You don't hear a lot about social issues from Ryan. I wonder how many people would be surprised that he voted to ban employment discrimination based on sexual preference. I think many more would be surprised that he explains it this way: "The way I see that . . . may be informed by just friendships I've had, people I grew up with in Janesville who didn't choose to be gay. It wasn't an orientation they decided to experiment (with) or choose. It's just who they are. They were just created that way."
The thing is that Ryan realizes what's important in government. It's the level of freedom we guarantee and protect - personal as well as economic. It's not what people do in their own bedrooms.
The goal, the point, of politics should be making the country a better place. Paul Ryan is offering actual solutions. Every single person running in 2010 or considering running for president in 2012 needs to follow his lead. We need to be the party of ideas again, and Ryan is definitely doing his part.