House Speaker Paul Ryan on Populism CSPAN July 19, 2018 4:55pm-5:31pm EDT
millions," the 1949 film, "eskimo hunters." "alaska centennial" and "alaska highway." watch alaska weekend saturday and sunday, july 21 and 22, on the c-span networks. at c-span.org. or listen with the free c-span radio am. -- app. >> house speak speaker paul ryan joined the american enterprise institute today for a discussion on populism and identity politics. speaker ryan talked about how new media and technology have contributed to a rise in tribalism, which he said runs counter to the more traditional republican beliefs. this is about a half hour.
mr. ryan: hi, everybody. jonah: probably wondering why i called this meeting. so, we're going to do this very quickly. because we don't have a lot of time. mr. ryan: whose water is this? yours or mine? jonah: that is yours. as some of you may know, steve hayes of the weekly standard has left town for a year to live in spain and so i needed another cheesehead to hang out with. [laughter] i picked this guy. as arthur brooks sleesk the american enterprise institute as president, i thought we could really use another physical trainer. so we had him come here.
[laughter] so anyway. i will spare you all the promotional plugs for my book. i will spare you all that sort of throat clearing. and as henry xiii said to each of his wives, i won't keep you long. [laughter] and he doesn't need an introduction. mr. ryan: i'm paul, hi. jonah: so, i understand this election season, midterms are coming up. you're going around for understandable reasons. touting how great the economy is doing. crediting it to the tax bill and other things and pulling back regulations. let's just stipulate, for the sake of argument, that the economy is doing great. and that you deserve all of the credit. ok? let's just stipulate. how's democracy doing? mr. ryan: it's resilient. it's the best system, except for all the other systems, right? that's the churchill line. i had to confess to him in the room back there that i love his
book, i just haven't read it yet. [laughter] is, in the democracy 21st century era, facing new challenges that it had not had before. you have illittle bitism on the rise in parts of the world -- illiberalism on the rise in parts of the world. you have a model in china that is tantalizing to some. and then you have our own challenges with relativism on the rise, 21st century technology and the ability to monetize division and, as you say, tribalism, or identity politics. those are really big challenges for democracy. it's the best system. but we have to continue to win these debates. and we're in one right now. and i feel good about winning it, but we've got to get on with winning it. jonah: so, one of my arguments would be that the way you win these debates is by first and foremost, teaching people that
debate is important. mr. ryan: yeah. jonah: you and i both came up in washington around the same time as 20-something policy knowns as think tanks. i stay true to my roots. [laughter] you've strayed a bit. it's a disappointment to a lot of us. it seems to me that on the right in particular, but also for lots of liberals, in the 1990's, there was -- it was agreed that arguments were important to have. and we kind of have lost that. why have we lost this idea that instead of -- anything is worth doing if it results in drinking the tears of the enemy. right? mr. ryan: right. jonah: my favorite new yorker cartoon has two dogs drinking martinis at a bar and one dog says to the other, you know, it's not good enough that dogs succeed, cats must also fail. [laughter] right? and it seems to me that so much of our policies right now is
more about cats must also fail than dogs must succeed. how did we get here? mr. ryan: that's a really good question. that's what i wish i had a really good answer for but i don't. jonah: i know a book you can read that gives you part of the answer. mr. ryan: that's why i'm excited about reading. it i'm looking for the answers. that's a great question. i'm looking at this is, when we came of age, the cold war was dying and when e won and we had classical liberalism and grew up in the age of reagan and won the locke. school and jonah: nerds like you and i did. mr. ryan: the conservative movement was that with little skirmish with neoco nmp s and
had the same foundation. now we have a zero-sum game thinking. and we thought my game comes to your loss, we thought that was an economic argument that we won and now relegitimating it on trade and everything else but slipped into the rest of society. i think the rise of relativism on top of that, in the old days like the 1990's, i thought identity tools was to get their majority going and base going. we won this, it's over with, they do that, we don't, because we believe in that inclusive politics. well, here we are now and both sides use it. we used to talk about western civilization which to us met the liberal ideas and other guys
hijacked the term. we are back to zero-sum game thinking and with 21st century technology that both sides use and have to go back which we took for granted that we won as conservatives. we not only have to win it on our side but the majority of the country. i see the accelerant that is thrown in our face and relegitimate these. does that make sense? jonah: we are never more than one generation with tyranny and every generation and western civilization and we call them children, which means that we have to teach children. so that process of teaching children not to be barbarians which we have had very agrees of
success at the goldberg household, that starts in the first civilization, which is the family and seems to me and part of my argument, so many of the problems are downstream of the deeper problems we have, the break youp of the family and civil society. and people keep asking me what my public policy solutionsr push it down to the most lowest level as possible. i know you are sympathetic as possible. mr. ryan: beautiful term that no one understands. is, this is one of my big pushes in my current vocation has been civil society and trying to elbow out like we are underneath the basketball and trying to get the rebound, civil society between the person and her government. i'm told you wrote about julia. and the out 2013
problem is on the right if we don't watch ourselves, we will squeeze others as well. we have to relimit government so that civil society can take its rightful place as the center of our community and civil society is a big term. it's family, it's community, it's church, it's everything. the space between ourselves and our government where we live our lives and use our mipeds to practice our vocations and help others and go through the life where we enjoy being human and that is getting crowded out ever so much because of progressivism and the haber -- kind of seeped into our public policy. jonah: are you trying to seduce me, speaker ryan? [laughter]
mr. ryan: with relativism, we have challenges to go and relegitimate. the -- we all have our roles we play. for us is relimit government and the agenda we put through is to do just that and open the space up as much as we can so those can come back and can regrow the right stuff. jonah: i warned you there was an elephant in the room that we couldn't avoid talking about it. my own personal view is that president trump is not the cause of all of our problems, but there are a lot of aspects of our presidency and there are symptoms as i keep telling the people on the left, donald trump is not hitler. hitler could have repealed obamacare. [laughter] mr. ryan: that is really good.
it's funny tause true. jonah: you could look it up. and when you say that we have to push things back to civil society and i agree with that, the more you give people a sense they have power over their own lives and know the names of the powers that be, the better off our democracy will be. and you have the cultural wars and the winners will have to look the losers in the eyes. when you have a president who says and i will say in the pop you lift, nationalist, right-wing terms, i alone can fix it, this idea that a single person as an expression of the people has the will and the power -- the rhetoric of conservatives that we grew up reading was that the government was too powerful and the
rhetoric of the current president is the government was too weak and too stupid, which is a significant departure from normal conservative rhetoric. if we are going to have these arguments, how do we deal with some of the arguments coming out? mr. ryan: i would use different arguments but what can i do as speaker of the house or guy in congress, pass the policies that advance our principles, show the principles again work so that we can have pressure evidence of our principles, but more importantly advance what we believe is for limiting government. take a look that we got 17 very important regulatory reform bills in law that relimit the administrative state. look at the economic agenda, the things that we all believe in, so arch we have principles that are put into policies and we have new evidence of that. that is important to rewin and relegitimate these debates. but i think it's important that
we kind of return power back to individuals and communities, which is what our ageppeda is doing irrespective of pop you lift rhetoric that is out there. jonah: there is -- i agree with you. edmund burkee said the school of mankind, you have to show people are healthy. but at the same time, you know, you alluded to this earlier about how we used to think politics is fundamentally left-wing and now there are big chunks of the sort of common section right for want of a better term, who are practicing in kind identity politics. and it takes different forms and many of them i think pernicious and some sort of silly. what can and should we do to actually push back on it?
mr. ryan: do everything we can. the alt-right. . didn't know what it was these things give rise to different labels, but it is that. and it is identity politics and against what we believe and hijacking of our terms. like the progressives hijack the term liberalism. the blood and soil of hijacked things like western civilization. and so we have to go back and fight for our grouped and rewin these ideas. and marginalize these ideas as best we can to the corners and show -- the problem we have there is fresh evidence that this stuff works. jonah: politically. mr. ryan: flow 21st century technology and people can make money on it, that is a problem. we have to do a better job and i wish i had better answers and i
wish i had more time to think about this stuff, how do we get the core back and classic liberalism properly understood in the 21st century so we can real debate to the ash heap that it be longs to but junk form it comes back and keeps growing. that's the way i look at this stuff. but, you know, i just think that the right -- there are people that don't believe in classic liberalism. that is not conservativism. that is racism. that is nationalism. that is not what we believe in. that is not the founding the vision and not natural law. what do we have to do? we have to go back and reteach, relegitimate, and relearn people to these concepts, the way i see it. jonah: and an argument, just to assert it, one of the reasons he
gets this is because of the erosion of civil society. people no longer feel that the community they live in feel they are respected, well loved and retreat to virtual communities that are satisfying. places like facebook which has great things going for it, it's not great for creating new communities. mr. ryan: make money off the dark emotions. jonah: you get people telling you, rather than disagreeing with you, you self-select and find people who agree with you. ribe ryan we were talking about that. math on web sites and cable news that are basically saying in order to survive this business model, hits, clicks and ratings, you better project back to people that you want.
you have these things that are holling us off, seeing the other side as the enemy and there goes civility in civil society. that is a huge challenge we have. we have to come up with better ways of rebranding, reclaiming and reselling and repelling the story of natural law and natural rights, the beautiful thing. you call it the miracle. absolutely. and i promise to read your book. [laughter]
mr. ryan: that is not what insecure conservatives alt-right national pop you lift blood and soil people not what they think. only people like me can grasp these concepts can agree with me. and you have these industries going through transformation and telling people what they want to hear and this is the challenge. jonah: it does make sense. someone wrote a book about that. and one of the things i impress upon people, one of the most radical things in the constitution doesn't get taught which is getting rid of titles and know built.
and royalty and all of that kind . thing were 10,000 years it says simply by accident of birth, some people are more deserving or more special than other people. and what america did said no, no, everyone will start with a clean slate. i think that is hugely important but more important is teaching people a sense of gratitude, the opposite of gratitude, entitlement. and which brings me of course to millenials. [laughter] jonah: damn kids. and we now have, i don't have the numbers in front of me. we have unprecedented numbers of people who say socialism is preferable. we have this congresswoman who just won -- mr. ryan: she is not in congress yet. jonah: the new republicans told
me she is going to save the world. mr. ryan: progressism. that is the hip and cool thing. jonah: one of the reasons why this emerges is that the memory of the cold war is gone and we don't teach people to be grateful to the incredible prosperity we have. and people say that looks pretty cool because that is how our brains are wired. do the members of your caucus have the words to talk about sosmism and talk about it on terms that younger people are thinking about. mr. ryan: which members of my caucus are you talking about? louie gohmert. mr. ryan: i'm not going to touch
that. [laughter] mr. ryan: for the most part, yes. but what i worry about is we came of age when that was a fresh lesson and we were all steeped in it and now we are victims of our success and we got lazy and it's not being taught anymore. then you have the progressives pushing constantly and building the whole life of juliet. i forgot about that until i saw reference in your book which i'm excited about reading in the future. the progressives are out there pushing the other side which is emotionally attractive and appealing. and we conservative class of liberals took it for granted and not learning these lessons and look at our educational system and it's not going our way. again why we need to decentralize and school choice,
why we need all these things to go back and legitimate it. and how our new challenge is the 21st century digital age we are n which makes it easier for us to revert back and not have this beautiful exceptional miracle, which is what we have to do. jonah: one of the things that makes stream court fights so ugly and to borrow a term from social science, so stupid, is how -- because we invested in the supreme court powers that we shouldn't have. if one of nine justices has more power than congress to do all sorts of things, of course we are going to treat it as the legislative branch and spend money on it like a political campaign. -- ou think judge cavanaugh
justice cavanaugh, do you think we will see democrats and democrats and have these fights in the elected politics arena? mr. ryan: like a campaign. jonah: let's say for the sake of argument we get him on the bench and the supreme court actually starts not legislating from the bench but rolling things back. how do you think that's going to change politics? mr. ryan: to your second and previous question, i think our members are getting farther than they were before. our majority was soft on philosophy in the early 2000's and lost the majority and i called it young guns with kevin and eric and that was to find conservatives who could make us
a more conservative majority and different people arrive it through practice matism through a dentist or think tanker but we are more acquainted with this ideas. the caucus is better. these judge fights bring that to a rise. and for instance, a lot of the agenda we ran on, it was on article 1 versus the other articles. a lot of it was about the separation of powers. we have a long way to go but we are acknowledging it and going down that path. hired new employees to write tight stat statutes. i negotiated a reform to ensure that they don't have this discretion to regulate the economy. so we are more attuned to this
than we were before and these judicial fights put us in that area. those judicial fights, he will ss, one red state democrat goes, maybe three follow. i think he's going to get in. but 20 years ago, he probably ould have gotten 65, 70 votes. we are back to tribealism. conservatives are what we just described. we are going to have this, but hat the lesson, judicial ack tivism and at least we are arguing about the constitution. 10 years ago we didn't have those arguments but we do now.
jonah: congress is actually, people say foreign policy is for the president. no. no. declare war not a trivial part of foreign policy. and pay for this thing called the military. but it seems to me one of the reasons why a politician on the right or left can come forward and campaign on i alone can fix is that because congress has over the last september try outsourced, created a fourth branch of government. so personally, i know you have
feelings about trade. we don't have to get too deep, but the president is not supposed to have this power on trade. how goes the project of clawing back the power that the founding fathers. mr. ryan: trade is the most work we have to do. 100 years ago they passed laws that gives so much discretion and what president is going to reduce their power. this is a project that is going to take a long time but we have been serious. one of the first bills i put on the floor in this session is the rains act, major rules and regulations. onah: that was in my paul ryan binge. mr. ryan: we have final say-so on laws. that is one of the most important things to reign in the administrative state.
very, very important. one of the first thing we did. will ntee chuck schumer filibuster that. 800 bills we passed. 550 sitting in the senate. a lot of those first article one bills we passed are sitting over there because of the filibuster and that is the frustration. appropriations bills and the president has no choice. what do we do? the way we draft our laws, we write them very tightly because chevron is out of control and don't want the administrative state no matter who is president and after the obama experience, we better right these things tightly. we do the rains act kind of thing the way we write statutes. we are very cognizant of this
and mitch, who has done a very good job of this, get good judges on the bench. don't think this isn't on the front of our minds. it is. we are legislating this way but we need a bigger vote count to get it to the president's desk. and the president does support these bills. where we do have an issue is on trade. the president has had a lot of discretion on trade. i wrote the t.p.a. law. the t.p.a. law was one example recently where we got more legislative power. not as much as we would like, but we claude back a like from the administration on trade. we are making progress not as fast as we would like.
>> actually have time one one ess. >> do you gentlemen reserve the federal reserve as a center of power? mr. ryan: i'm a big believer. you want to -- i do believe in independence of the fed and auditing and clear books and i do believe we should have a standard, a fixed rule that we govern the federal reserve on. the humphrey-hawkins law puts into the statute -- i won't get into the phillips' rule. jonah: binge. [laughter]
that is off of the f inch at money off of a fixed standard where we know exactly where our money is and can't have debasement by the federal reserve that takes away our livelihoods. but the last thing i want to do is get politicians involved meddling with interest rates and the federal reserve. keep this thing away from political interference. and this is president a putin statement. and have a standard that is objective and adhered to and transparent so we are getting away from the fiat money days. the world reserve currency, we could abuse it if we don't
watch ourselves. we passed this bill as well. so the house has acted on these ules rewriting humphrey-hawkins. [laughter] tag.ryan: i see a hash jonah: we wanted a longer conversation and this is what we could work out. this is my schedule. and one thing i do ask is everybody stay in their seats and where they are until the speaker goes and i'll talk for another hour and a half. mr. ryan: make sure everybody reads his book. [applause] . [captions copyright national
all i could think of, what if he was interrogating me. >> sunday night on c-span. next on c-span, british prime minister talks with members of the house of commons about her recent meeting and his comments with russian vladimir putin. >> questions to the prime minister. he prime minister. prime minister may: today marks 100 years since the birth of nelson mandela. i am sure that the whole house will want to join me in paying tribute to his