For most people, our music preferences have little influence on our lives beyond giving us that extra burst of energy to bang out another rep, or giving us that inspiration to sing at the top of our lungs in the shower, or bob our head to the beat in traffic. This is not the case for Paul Ryan, who is approaching his first week as Mitt Romney’s running mate and quickly learning how elusive privacy can be for a Vice Presidential candidate. In addition to the growing pains that most any candidate for such high profile office will experience, Ryan is also going through his own personal growing pains tied to his oblivious self-perception. Ryan says that Rage Against the Machine is one of his favorite bands (even playing the band’s song, ‘Panic Switch’ at campaign rallies), which prompted a response from Tom Morello guitarist and founder of the band, “Paul Ryan’s love of Rage Against the Machine is amusing, because he is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades.” Morello responded with a number of other sharp barbs that struck at the heart of Ryan’s contradictory view of himself.
Your Lying Eyes
Despite the tut-tutting from proponents of limited government, the Republicans are painting Paul Ryan as the antithesis to big government; it would appear that Ryan has partaken in the Kool-Aid drinking too. Paul Ryan is being presented as a Tea Party darling, portending that he is economically circumspect, fiscally conservative, and liberty minded. As John Stewart highlights, this is an optimistic perspective – at best. Many Ryan critics take issue with his record. Fiscal conservatives consider Ryan’s voting record economically abysmal (voting for TARP, MMA, stimulus, extension of unemployment benefits, and other entitlements). Despite the long shadow Ryan’s euphonious budget ‘savings’ casts on our economy (which extends beyond even today’s youngest politician’s career/retirement), Republicans champion his mischief as fiscally savvy.
Liberty minded voters consider his record equally problematic (voting for making PATRIOT Act permanent, allowing warrantless electronic surveillance, NDAA, SOPA – which he eventually conceded due to social media pressure, CISPA, outlawing protests via HR 347, DOMA, and a variety of costly war and interventionist actions abroad. Given Ryan’s wolf in sheep’s clothing voting record, he has miraculously garnered support from at least one prominent libertarian voice, David Boaz of CATO, begging the question if Mr. Boaz’s support is more execration of Ron Paul or legitimate support for the Wrong Paul given that Ryan’s platform is largely void of any meaningful libertarian perspectives.
Evil of Two Lessers
Many of Ryan’s supporters assert that he is better than 99% of Congress, but relative comparisons mean little when the temple has be infiltrated by scoundrels. If Ryan embodies the best of what the obdurate Republicans have to offer then then we need to consider another option because the Democrats are equally obstinate in their plans to play their violin as Rome burns. Our country is in its current predicament because for too many years we have tolerated evil and corruption of the less and Paul Ryan embodies this reality. He is clearly better than most, including our President and the Republican Presidential candidate, but he is only the evil of two lessers, as evident by his aforementioned voting record. I suppose we should be thankful that Ryan is such a big fan of Morello. One can only imagine how bad Ryan’s policies would be if he wasn’t raging against the machine. To paraphrase one of Morello’s other piercing barbs, ‘Ryan would be better off if he spent less time in the mosh pit [of big and powerful government] and spent more time listening [to the Right Paul or Gary Johnson].’
Erik Chavez is a graduate of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the University California Los Angeles, where he studied Economics, Policy & Finance. He has written on and taught a variety of policy and economic subjects. In addition to being a finance professional, Erik is a Mont Pelerin Society Fellow (2008), an Professor of Economics and Finance , and a member of the American Economic and Finance Associations. Erik can be followed on Twitter @lethalodor.