The Ripon Forum

Volume 46, No. 1

Winter 2012 Issue

Jack Kemp’s Political Heir

By on August 13, 2014 with 0 Comments

by DANIEL E. LUNGREN

dlungrenrfJack Kemp was unique. His combination of intellectual curiosity, inspiration, openness to everyone and persistent advocacy for free market and individual freedom will not be repeated in my lifetime.

However, a worthy candidate for the mantle of Jack Kemp’s legacy in the U.S. Congress is Paul Ryan (R-WI). Paul Ryan, a trained economist, who aspired to practice the “dismal science” as a professional came under the mentorship of Jack Kemp and was profoundly changed in his career path.

Jack’s love of the intellectual debate, respect for opponents’ differing views and yet cheerful belief in the powers of persuasion now mark Paul Ryan’s notable achievements as a leading member of the current Congress.

While Jack insisted on the civility of vigorous public discussion, he never shirked the responsibility of leading that discussion. Paul Ryan’s respectful but forceful encounter with President Obama during 2010’s “White House Summit” had Jack Kemp’s style written all over it. The only thing missing was repeated football references.

 Jack’s love of the intellectual debate, respect for opponents’ differing views and yet cheerful belief in the powers of persuasion now mark Paul Ryan’s notable achievements as a leading member
of the current Congress.

Perhaps hunting deer with a bow and arrow from a tree stand – Paul’s passion – is not as easily translatable into lessons for life and economics. At the same time it does reveal Paul Ryan to be a genuine example of the best of Americana.

When Jack entered the Congress no one had heard of “Supply-Side Economics.” Indeed, the Republican Party had a well earned reputation as “green eye-shade pessimists.” Jack helped jolt us awake from that political nightmare. Now, Paul Ryan summons us to the “animal spirits” of a Pro-Job, Pro-Growth approach to taming the formidable challenges in our economy.

This time it is leaders like Paul Ryan who have exhibited the courage to face the fiscal mess in a way that both inspires and instructs. His “Roadmap for America’s Future” is the best straightforward analysis of the facts confronting this country, and it includes a sobering yet hopeful response to them.

Jack Kemp championed the worth of the individual as the keystone to an American economic renaissance. Paul Ryan’s faith similarly arises from his fellow Americans and their willingness to honestly deal with our present day economic reality.

Jack Kemp made America a better place so, too, does Paul Ryan.   RF

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Daniel E. Lungren represents the 3rd District of California in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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