Thursday, September 20, 2012

Who is Paul Ryan?

Most people don’t get to know political leaders. Because of my job (and the fact that I live and breathe politics) I know far more of them than the average person, but even I have a very limited experience.

I do not hang out with Paul Ryan on weekends, nor do I work with him in a professional sense. Recently, however, I have had some experiences with him that I thought you might be interested in.

So the question is, who is Paul Ryan? In the last ten years that I have been in the DC area, I have, of course, heard a lot about the “numbers wizard” who is one of the very few people in this city who really seems to understand the federal budget. It is clear that he got where he is today, not because of political maneuvering, but rather because he is genuinely smart.

But smarts don’t make a man. Who is Paul Ryan? The other day I was at an event and Bill Bennett introduced Ryan’s speech. Ryan used to intern for Bennett and you could tell that Bennett has functioned as a mentor to Ryan in many ways. Imagine the author of the Book of Virtues mentoring you. I don’t think you could get away with anything!

But mentors don’t make a man. Who is Paul Ryan? I read a great article in the National Review called “Ryan Shrugged that talks about how his faith forms not only his core ideas and philosophy but also the basis for his policies ideas. He has been called an “ideas man,” but those ideas come from his deep faith. “A person’s faith is central to how they conduct themselves in public and in private.” Ryan said in an interview. He continued by underlining that his faith was not just doctrine, but that he wants to answer the question “how do you apply the doctrine of your teaching into your everyday life as a lay person?”

But philosophical background doesn’t make a man. Who is Paul Ryan? Recently I drove down to Richmond at the request of the campaign to welcome Ryan to Virginia directly following his acceptance of the Republican nomination in Orlando. I was given VIP access, but the reason I went was I wanted to see how the new political superstar handled his stardom. This is what I saw.

When they introduced him, he came on stage to chants of “Ryan! Ryan! Ryan!” He opened his mouth and the crowd cheered. But instead of allowing his rhetoric to soar, he almost disappointed the crowd and spent time thanking the man who introduced him. It is a moment when the small town congressman’s mettle was tested, and he didn’t let the hype to draw him in. He rose above the excitement and began to share from his heart.

Before he entered, I curiously watched a young staffer bring prepared remarks out and place them on the podium. I still wonder what they contained because Ryan only looked at them once halfway through his speech that brought sustained cheers from the crowd time and time again. He talked about the values that Americans hold dear and how we can do better. He didn’t need notes because he spoke from his heart and meant what he said. From where I stood in the front row, I could see the conviction and idealism on his face.

Humility and conviction don’t make a man anymore than faith, philosophy, mentors, or smarts. Each of these things make up part of who we are and together they can give us insight into who someone is. Being in DC, I can become cynical about people and candidates, but I believe that Paul Ryan truly stands out as the kind of man who I want to see in leadership.

Who is Paul Ryan? He is a man of principle and leadership. He is a man who believes in America and someone I wholeheartedly support with my resources, word, and deed.

Post by Jeremiah Lorrig
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