Aug 5, 2009

Young Guns of the Republican Party

The following article and photo is from the July 25th edition of The Economist. It talks about the "Young Guns" in the Republican Party who potentially represent the future of the party. The photo is of one of these young guns, Rep. Paul Ryan from Wisconsin.

I remember Paul when he was a legislative director to then Representative (now Senator) Sam Brownback. He was good friends with our first legislative director, Lisa Piraneo. He would come in and sit in our back legislative room and shoot the breeze with her.

We all knew then that he would rise in the ranks, in his own right, and he did.

I believe he and the likes of Eric Cantor (whom I interviewed in an earlier blog posting) are the future of our party. Enjoy the article.

The Young Guns go for it
Jul 23rd 2009 WASHINGTON, DC From The Economist print edition Two possible candidates to lead the party out of the wilderness

POLITICIANS capable of renewing the unpopular and demoralised Republican Party are hard to find in the Senate, where they cannot even mount a filibuster these days. Neither do state governors promise much: scandal, resignation and botched appearances on the national stage have hurt the ambitions of South Carolina’s Mark Sanford, Alaska’s Sarah Palin and Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal respectively.
So conservatives seeking saviours are increasingly alighting upon the House of Representatives, and especially the youthful duo of Eric Cantor, the Republican whip, and Paul Ryan (pictured above), the party’s senior member on the budget committee. Both represent swing states: Mr Cantor, 46, is from Virginia, Mr Ryan, 39, from Wisconsin. Both leapfrogged older stalwarts to get their current posts (Mr Cantor is the most senior House Republican after the minority leader, John Boehner, who is 59). Along with Kevin McCarthy, a representative from California, they run the Young Guns, a team of House Republicans devoted to helping favoured candidates get elected.
Neither man is widely mooted as a presidential candidate, at least not yet. Conservative pundits initially regarded Mr Cantor, a prodigious fund-raiser and peripatetic campaigner reportedly considered as a running-mate by John McCain last year, as the obvious leader. Mr Ryan, a prolific source of policy ideas, was considered the thinker. More recently, however, Mr Ryan has come to be seen by many as the more natural front-man.
But whatever the division of labour, it is not hard to see the two men’s usefulness to their party. Their determination to produce alternatives rather than mere opposition to Democratic policies should help to prevent the Republicans from being typecast as the party of “no”. And they are generally more mindful of the tone they strike than older, grouchier Republicans. Mr Ryan’s political hero is the late Jack Kemp, the soul of sunny conservatism.
Both are also conversant with life outside the conservative bubble. Mr Cantor, the only Jewish Republican congressman, has a wife who hails from a prominent Democratic family (“a mixed marriage”, he calls it). Mr Ryan is one of the few senior House Republicans to represent a competitive district in a swing state. His district, won by Barack Obama in the presidential election, contains lots of union members.
But if a Republican recovery requires a centrewards shift in some of the party’s economic thinking, the two men seem less plausible agents of change. For if their dynamism is evocative of Newt Gingrich’s mid-term revolution of 1994, so too is their zeal for small government. True, a “road map for America’s future”, published by Mr Ryan last year, included ideas for broadening health-care coverage. But it focused on steep cuts to taxes and entitlements. Budding congressmen seeking the support of the Young Guns must demonstrate a commitment to shrinking the state.
All this is more coherent than the big-government conservatism of the Bush years. Mr Ryan understandably defines himself against the profligate House Republicans of that era. But whether this is enough to win back floating voters is unclear—despite gathering worries about the deficit under Mr Obama. Both men have devoured the recent slew of books attempting to sketch a path back to power for the Republicans. But their authors, including David Frum, Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam, agree that the party needs to become more open-minded about government intervention if it is to address popular worries, such as the environment and the stagnation of middle-class incomes.
Democrats are frustrated that Mr Ryan in particular is being defined more by his amiable personality than his conservative take on economics. That may not last as he comes under more scrutiny. There are also obstacles to Mr Cantor and Mr Ryan from within. Some older Republicans are resentful of their rapid rise and their hostility to Washington orthodoxy, including the pork-barrel culture. But if the party is serious about leaving the wilderness, it cannot be choosy about who leads them out.
Copyright © 2009 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.

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