Perspectives on Speaker Paul Ryan’s Retirement

By Kelly Wert

Last Wednesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that he will not run for reelection and will retire from the House of Representatives in January 2019.  After reluctantly accepting the job after John Boehner stepped down in 2015, Ryan announced that though he was satisfied with what he has accomplished and is ready to step down and spend more time with his family.  He said “I like to think I’ve done my part, my little part in history to set us on a better course.”  Ryan focused on his success in helping pass the Republican tax law.  His announcement is a blow for Republicans in the lead up to the midterm elections, and some have speculated that his choice to retire may have been influenced by his reelection prospects.  Possible contenders for his replacement include House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana. Below is a roundup of views on Ryan’s legacy and speculation about his retirement.

Paraphrasing Reagan, The Economist states that “the Republican Party left Paul Ryan, so he is leaving politics.”  Paul Ryan’s compassionate conservatism has been abandoned by the Republican Party in favor of President Trump’s identity politics, forcing him to abandon his idealized conservative goals and pushing him out of the House. (The Economist)

Paul Ryan’s retirement signals that Republicans may lose their majority in the House, setting the stage for a tense battle in the midterm elections and putting pressure on Republicans to retain control of the Senate.  It also shows how Trump’s presidency has altered the future outlook of the Republican Party. (Time)

Ryan’s moderate position has been overtaken by the extreme wings of the Republican Party, at odds with his goals of reforming entitlements and reducing the national debt.  He has also been unable to successfully navigate a working relationship with Trump. (Daily Herald)

Senior GOP members of Congress are vying for the Speaker position behind the scenes in the run up to Ryan’s retirement.  However, the possibility that Republicans will lose their majority in Congress looms on the horizon. (The Washington Examiner)

Paul Ryan’s retirement announcement has been met with both praise and criticism, but regardless he leaves a legacy of staying true to his conservative ideals throughout his time in Congress and has had many legislative successes in his time representing Wisconsin’s 1st District. (Forbes)


Kelly Wert is a freshman in the College studying Political Economy who writes about domestic and international policy issues.

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