In 1998, exactly 26,645 Wisconsin voters made 28-year-old Paul Ryan the second-youngest freshman in the House of Representatives.
Since then, the youthful congressman has never lost an election. In 7 biannual races, he never failed to net more than 57% of the vote – and in 2010 he won by a convincing 68-30 margin. Complete meteoric rise to fame? Check.
Yes, it’s safe to say that Paul Ryan has arrived – and in record time. Only 11 years passed between his role as a high school-aged McDonald’s frycook and a Representative for the Badger State. That quick of a transition isn’t something that happens by accident, and there’s no reason the model for Paul Ryan’s success can’t be duplicated by other aspiring politicos.
Unless, of course, they’re stupid. It’s hard to be stupid and be hailed as policy wonk, or earn dual degrees in political science and economics like Ryan did. It’s also hard to be stupid and become Jack Kemp’s protegé. Congressman Kemp, a so-called “Happy Warrior,” acted as Ryan’s mentor, emphasizing the inherent genius in conservatism. Ryan later called Kemp a “huge influence.” Clearly, in the Ryan model for political success, intellect has value.
But intellect without discipline is like a locomotive without rails, and Paul Ryan’s no trainwreck. The telegenic son of Janesville is known to do P90X everyday, and has even exercised with Tony Horton in the past. As someone who’s tried P90X, I can confirm that it’s a routine that demands discipline – and a tolerance for pain.
When you have to work at bars and restaurants, drive the wienermobile and teach gym classes just to pay the bills like Paul Ryan had to, you understand the meaning of discipline. And when you come across your own father lying dead in his bedroom like Paul Ryan did, you know the meaning of pain.
There are millions of people around the country who feel a lesser but still just as real pain everyday. Millions of people looking for jobs provide for their families, even in these roaring years of the Obama “recovery.” One out of every six Americans live in poverty. Unemployment sits at 8.3%. The chronically unemployed – those jobless for 6 or more months – make up 40% of those still looking for a job.
In 2008, Americans voted for a candidate who promised them hope. In 2012, they’ve realized that was smoke and mirrors from a guy way out of his depth.
But hope doesn’t need to be empty rhetoric. It doesn’t have to be something foggy and ambiguous – it can be real. Paul Ryan isn’t foggy and ambiguous, he’s straightforward and straight talking – the best characteristic the Midwest has to offer. He has words and ideas – ideas that work. He’s young, ambitious, and smart.
He’s what this party’s been looking for, what DYNAMO’s been calling for for a long time. I misjudged Ryan – he’s not an exciting mistake. He’s a stroke of genius.
Below, you can watch Paul Ryan’s Vice Presidential speech to the RNC. Leave your reaction in the comments below!