Paul Ryan joins the Republican civil war. Democracy will take all the help it can get.

by Bob Schwartz

I am not a fan of Paul Ryan. He was once Speaker of the House. He was once a candidate for Vice President on the Mitt Romney ticket. He lost the speakership. He lost the election. I am glad any time he is at a distance from the levers of power.

Yet he now belongs to a small and hearty band of Republicans who are trying to rescue the party from its devolution into indecency and inhumanity. So far, a very small band and not notably hearty. Still, since the Republican Party is a growing and dangerous force in American life and democracy—sort of a virus—we should accept any help we get in curing it.

Paul Ryan, despite being ideologically anathema to me (see Paul Ryan and Ayn Rand), is actually a pretty smart guy, known as a policy wonk.

Which leads to my muted optimism. Maybe Paul Ryan is standing up against the dominant Trumpist forces because it is the right thing to do. But I think he is more calculating and ambitious, and believes that eventually—not soon or soon enough but eventually—conventional and traditional Republicanism will be back, and he will have a place in it.

He is after all an acolyte of Ayn Rand, who believed that unbridled selfishness is the path to optimal outcomes. In this case, if Paul Ryan’s attempted return to relevance makes a crack in the current malevolent Republican monolith, let him have at it. Right now, American democracy needs all the help it can get.