Former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan took a gratuitous swipe at Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez this week while seemingly enjoying his newfound post-congressional irrelevancy. In an interview this week in his hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin, Ryan was asked about parallels between himself and Ocasio-Cortez, given that the two were each sworn into Congress at a very young age. Ryan revealed that he met AOC shortly after her November win and that he proceeded to offer her advice: “Take it easy, just watch things for a while, don’t ruffle, you know, see how it works first.” Ryan then joined the audience in laughter as he lamented that “I don’t think she really listened to a thing I said.”
Fortunately, AOC did indeed not listen to a thing Ryan said. Instead, she chose to move forward immediately to do the job for which she was elected and fight for what she believes in. As Senate Majority Leader Mitch Connell might put it, “Nevertheless, she persisted.” The reality is that no one needs to “see how it works first” because we have already seen how the whole system has not worked under Ryan’s feckless speakership. The blue wave that came crashing ashore in November was a cry for change, demanding action, transparency, and accountability. Ryan wielded the powerful Speaker’s gavel for two years of Trump’s presidency, yet he failed to stand up to the chief executive in any meaningful way.
After retiring from Congress altogether, Ryan handed the gavel to Nancy Pelosi, who did not forget that Congress is a co-equal branch of government under the Constitution. Like AOC, Pelosi also knows better than to listen to anything Ryan says. In just a few short months, people like Pelosi and AOC have reminded us that our Constitution established a system of government that is meant to operate under the principle of checks and balances.
At another point in the interview, Paul Ryan, who ran unsuccessfully for Vice President alongside Mitt Romney in 2012, got a question about his future political aspirations. “When are you going to run for president?” the interviewer asked. After some nervous chuckling, Ryan quipped, “I’m smarter than that.” Finally, he said something worth listening to.