THURSDAY, APRIL 12, 2018
On the “retirement” of House Speaker Paul Ryan
Sometimes (well really, more often than not) I find myself being incapable of letting well enough, alone. This is true in the case of the so-called retirement of Paul Ryan from the United States House of Representatives. The Speaker must believe that our nation has become so accustomed to the travesty of alternate facts, untruths and downright lies, that he would throw his verbiage right into the mix, along with #45. I was appalled to sit in front of my television yesterday to hear Paul Ryan announce that he is retiring from a life in politics to spend more time with his family. Giving the familiar, evangelical and conservative pitch of placing family first, literally flies in the face of his quiet obeisance and objective-tacit- but undeniable approval of one, Donald Trump. Ryan is running away from Congress just two years before his pension is slated to mature. Ryan is racing from the coveted Speaker of the House position at a time when both houses have a majority of his party in control, along with the executive branch being controlled by his party. Ryan is fleeing the responsibilities demanded by his position faster than Elton John can sing “Benny and the Jets” or John Denver singing, “I’m leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again.”
So be it. Every single person has the right to come and go as their conscience dictates. I have no problem with Ryan’s departure. More power to him, although I will absolutely include him as part of those sung about by the Isley Brothers warning us to, “Fight the powers that be.” The problem that I have with Ryan’s decision to leave Congress is that he utilized a very public space and chose a deliberate and specific path that was not honest, forthright and truthful. And he did this naming his wife and children as the reason for his decision to abandon ship. He even said that he hoped his children would one day be able to look upon his body of work and have pride in what he outlined as his accomplishments. My God! These words shocked me as much as anything he said. They are the words that gave me pause to write a response.
Mr. Speaker, I pray that your children will always love you as a father. I pray they will enjoy every single moment with you as they move towards adulthood. I pray they will take pride when you walk them down the isle as brides-to-be in the future. However, with all due respect sir, I pray they do not take pride in your role as a politician in the beginning quarter of this 21st century in the United States. For when the history books are written they will take note that you were in one of the most powerful and important positions in our government when your party made a deliberate decision to elect a tyrant, authoritarian, racist and evil man to sit in the Oval Office of the United States. Your children will take note that the Republican Party allowed itself to be corrupted, bamboozled and shamelessly co-opted by white nationalists, white supremacists and people filled with disgusting bias and hatred for anyone who is not like them. Your children will read about how you were silent when racists like Sebastien Gorka and Steve Bannon were hired by an incompetent and derelict resident of 1600 Pennsylvania to literally steer America in a direction toward anarchy rather than cooperation, separatism rather than unity and meanness rather than courtesy and kindness. Your children will read about how white men (which you are, Mr. Speaker) began to roll back the hand of progress and time by eradicating civil rights gains made by minorities in our nation. Your children will read about how you remained silent when white men with the worst records in diversity and mutual cooperation were appointed to fill cabinet seats with authority to deny African Americans and women, equal rights.
Put bluntly Mr. Ryan, I cannot allow you to even think that you are leaving your position as Speaker of the House and leaving the House itself, on a high note of success. You are leaving as a failure. An utter failure. Our beloved United States is as divided as ever. Hatred, animosity and the vitriol of racist angst has once again found a public forum. The horror of Charlottesville fell under your watch. You sat in utter silence as #45 said, “There were some nice people in that crowd” of hate filled and murderous white nut cases. You stood to the side saying nothing when #45 used the most abusive language ever in describing Haiti and countries in Africa. As Speaker of the House, only a stone’s throw from the presidency itself, you did not lend a shred of moral agency to the illicit and immoral floodgate that has rolled out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. You have said nothing about the dozens of women accusing #45 of sexual misconduct. While our nation has been in the most dire need for unifiers within our elected officials, for men and women willing to set aside their partisan politics to begin the process of steering our once mighty nation in the right direction- you have been in absentia.
So no sir, you don’t get a Mulligan. You don’t get a free pass. When you go back home and spend time with your family, may you also spend time reflecting on the horrible mess that was made under your watch. You are complicit. You are guilty. But don’t despair to the point of incapacity. You were not alone. For God’s sake, heed the warning to those who are left! We must begin this change and transformation into a nation of all God’s precious sons and daughters of every race, every hue, every religion and every belief. It is our history and if we are to have a future, it must be a part of that future as well.