GOP Struggle Is Real: Ryan Stands for Party, Cruz Stands for Principle

Ryan stands for party, Cruz stands for principle.  There is a difference.

As the GOP continues to try to sell Rep. Paul Ryan as an acceptable candidate for Speaker, the battle for the soul of the party continues.

Many have framed it as a conservative vs. moderate ideological struggle.  There is certainly a component of that. The problem with merely framing the struggle in ideological terms is that people like Paul Ryan can be viewed as an acceptable alternative because of his reputation as a “conservative” member of the house.

The question that the GOP desperately needs to settle in the next political cycle is whether or not the party will elevate and follow party men and women or visionaries and fighters.  The GOP used to have a flame of liberty within to light the path forward.  This flame championed and protected by visionary leaders like Ronald Reagan, has long since grown cold and the eyes of the GOP power brokers have been hypnotized by the allure of gold and power instead of liberty’s spark.

It is in the chasm between the compliant “yes” men and women of the GOP establishment and the vigorous advocacy of conservative political reforms championed by [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] and grassroots conservatives that this battle lies.

Some people will look at Paul Ryan and see a nice guy and a conservative.  He certainly was sold as a conservative running mate to placate the base when “severely” conservative (see also moderate) Mitt Romney selected him in 2012 to join the ticket.  His most recent voting record, however, betrays that political image.  According to Conservative Review, Paul Ryan’s voting record scores a 58% F conservative rating.  According to Heritage, it is 55% F.

In what world is a 58% conservative voting record considered conservative? At best, he could be considered a moderate.  And yet, he certainly started as a conservative.  His voting record at the time of his selection in 2012 was 75%.  It was higher in earlier years of his career.

Ryan is the poster child of what’s wrong with today’s GOP.  His career bespeaks of a Lord of the Rings ring of power style corruption of a conservative into an establishment moderate.  It’s a story that’s been repeated on the national stage time and time again.  Ryan may have once been a conservative, but his biggest claim to fame is that he is a compliant party man first and foremost.

I wrote about this during the 2012 campaign:

Budget-hawk Ryan was one of just 32 Republicans to vote for TARP in 2008.  On the floor of the House, Paul Ryan opined:

“TARP offends my principles…I’m going to vote for this bill in order to preserve my principles. In order to preserve this free enterprise system.”

Ryan voted FOR the GM bailout and the expansion of medicare under George W. Bush in 2003.  He also voted for the pork-laden spending bill containing the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere” in 2005.  Ryan voted repeatedly under George W. Bush to increase the debt limit. 

If Ryan is indeed a conservative, he has followed the same path of many in the establishment–drifting left over the last decade and falling in line on votes, where he votes against his “principles” in order to maintain a good reputation within the system of graft and corruption among the GOP career politicians.

No, if the Ryan situation demonstrates anything, it is that the battle may have started out as a conservative vs. moderate struggle, but now it’s devolved into a struggle against a corrupt system that strangles the conservatism out of politicians the longer they stay in office.  In other words, the struggle between conservative and moderate has already ended in victory for the moderates within the GOP party structure.

That is the real struggle.  It’s not enough to elect conservatives.  Power-hungry conservatives like Paul Ryan toss their convictions to the curb when confronted with the choice of principle or party.

Our quest is not just to elect conservatives to positions of influence.  It’s to choose those willing to advocate a conservative vision for America and be willing to fight, even to the political death, for those principles.  Electing conservatives that will value process, major donors, party sycophancy and their own re-election over standing with the people who elected them and the principles on which they founded their political career will do us no good.

We need fighters, but too often we get compliant party sycophants playing dress-up in the garb of a fighter.

The GOP as a party has decided against the conservatism of Reagan, just as it’s leaders always have.  The party leadership has never really embraced conservatism.  It’s the people who vote for the GOP that have.  And just like in 1980, we are getting more and more independent-minded and desirous of consistent conservative fighters to lead us.

This continues to explain the appeal of outsiders like Donald Trump and Ben Carson.  While Carson is a good man and is seemingly conservative, his lack of political experience creates some doubt in the minds of voters too often burnt by people who have betrayed our principles before.  Supporting the record-less Carson takes a leap of faith that many of us just can’t take again.  Trump, however,   has a downright terrifying record with regard to conservative principles, but his blunt take-no-prisoners style of politicking has largely obscured that fact from many voters.  His style combined with his celebrity status has propelled him to the front of the pack, but as voters begin to do their homework, they will find a lot of troubling red flags in Trump’s record.  Not the lest of which is that he tweeted on election day 2012 that he always votes for the winner while congratulating his “friend” Barack Obama.  Or by gushing over eminent domain.  Or by praising a single-payer healthcare system.

[mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] has no such inconsistency.  [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] has been declared by Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity as the most consistent conservative running in the 2016 contest.  [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] has demonstrated total disregard for his political career as he daily commits political suicide by standing with the grassroots against the party leadership and the permanent political class.

This is why [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] is the best man for the job in 2016.  The people finally have a champion willing to take on the party and fight for our ideals.  We have a man who is standing on and articulating the values that we hold dear.  We have a man who has demonstrated time and time again that he is willing to fight for those principles regardless of the cost to his career.

That is the true fight in the 2016 race and in congress.  Conservatives need to rally behind fighters who will stand up to the party leadership and clean house.  It’s time that the people who lead our party be those who value principle over party.  It’s time for leadership that would rather be true to the people who voted for them than to the party itself.

A party label will not fix our nation’s problems. A bold conservative agenda of reform and a restoration of constitutional governance will.  Paul Ryan, Jeb Bush, [mc_name name=’Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000589′ ], and [mc_name name=’Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000355′ ] will not lead us there.

[mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] and other principled conservative fighters like the House Freedom Caucus will.  It’s time to clean house and bring in new leadership to all levels of the GOP.  It’s time to reignite the promise of America by reigniting the flame of liberty that once burned so brightly in the party of Lincoln and Reagan.

This post originally appeared on my blog, City on a Hill.  You can also follow my blog on twitter: @Cityonahillblog