Paul Ryan delivered a soaring speech at the Republican Convention that clearly defined the issues and the differences between the Republicans and Social Democrats in this election.
His opening remarks established the themes of his talk:
“I accept the duty to help lead our nation out of a jobs crisis and back to prosperity – and I know we can do this.
I accept the calling of my generation to give our children the America that was given to us, with opportunity for the young and security for the old – and I know that we are ready.
They've run out of ideas. Their moment came and went. Fear and division are all they've got left.”
The first statement introduced the idea of competence—that we can do this. Ryan later developed this claim that the Obama administration amounts to a colossal failure that needs to be replaced. He detailed the scope of the failure:
“Right now, 23 million men and women are struggling to find work. Twenty-three million people, unemployed or underemployed. Nearly one in six Americans is living in poverty. Millions of young Americans have graduated from college during the Obama presidency, ready to use their gifts and get moving in life. Half of them can't find the work they studied for, or any work at all.”
The financial packages that supposedly were aimed at getting people back to work seemed more about rewarding political supporters:
“It was President Obama's first and best shot at fixing the economy, at a time when he got everything he wanted under one-party rule. It cost $831 billion – the largest one-time expenditure ever by our federal government. It went to companies like Solyndra, with their gold-plated connections, subsidized jobs, and make-believe markets. The stimulus was a case of political patronage, corporate welfare, and cronyism at their worst. You, the working men and women of this country, were cut out of the deal.”
The second statement in his opening remarks appealed to a new generation of voters not only experiencing the loss of career opportunities, but also open to the bold reforms needed to bring entitlement expenses under control. (It also implied a nice contrast between Ryan the younger reformer and Joe Biden, his “liberal establishment” Social Democrat counterpart.)
“College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life. Everyone who feels stuck in the Obama economy is right to focus on the here and now. And I hope you understand this too, if you're feeling left out or passed by: You have not failed, your leaders have failed you.”
The third statement suggested that “hope and change” really amounted to a massive expansion of traditional entitlements that already were bankrupting the national treasury. Moreover, it came as a result of astonishingly misplaced priorities:
“Here we were, faced with a massive job crisis – so deep that if everyone out of work stood in single file, that unemployment line would stretch the length of the entire American continent. You would think that any president, whatever his party, would make job creation, and nothing else, his first order of economic business. But this president didn't do that. Instead, we got a long, divisive, all-or-nothing attempt to put the federal government in charge of health care.”
Ryan summarized things concisely:
“It began with a financial crisis; it ends with a job crisis.
It began with a housing crisis they alone didn't cause; it ends with a housing crisis they didn't correct.
It began with a perfect Triple-A credit rating for the United States; it ends with a downgraded America.
It all started off with stirring speeches, Greek columns, the thrill of something new. Now all that's left is a presidency adrift, surviving on slogans that already seem tired, grasping at a moment that has already passed, like a ship trying to sail on yesterday's wind.”
Closing, Ryan again raised the issue of competence and the "can do" spirit:
“We will not spend four years blaming others, we will take responsibility.
We will not try to replace our founding principles, we will reapply our founding principles.
The work ahead will be hard. These times demand the best of us – all of us, but we can do this. Together, we can do this.
We can get this country working again. We can get this economy growing again. We can make the safety net safe again. We can do this.
Whatever your political party, let's come together for the sake of our country. Join Mitt Romney and me. Let's give this effort everything we have. Let's see this through all the way. Let's get this done.
Thank you, and God bless.”