How Paul Ryan Could Save His Legacy — And Our Democracy (A Fantasy)

How Paul Ryan Could Save His Legacy — And Our Democracy (A Fantasy)
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Crowd chants: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!...

Hillary Clinton: Thank you. Thank you all so much. It’s wonderful to be here. And before I speak, I want to let you know that this is a very special day. Before I talk, I’m going to bring out a guest you’re not expecting, who will make history. And how you greet him will help shape that history So, I ask you to greet this guest with open hearts and open minds, and embrace him for the courage and true patriotism he’s going to show you this morning. Ladies and gentlemen, please warmly welcome ... Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Paul Ryan.

Paul Ryan enters to shocked applause. Shakes Clinton’s hand and goes to lectern

Paul Ryan: I bet you did not see that coming. Tell you the truth, neither did I.

Good morning. Madam Secretary, thank you so much for allowing me to share the stage with you. And to everyone here who is supporting Hillary Clinton for the presidency of the United States, I thank you for letting me come before you to say what is in my heart, and what I have been discussing with Secretary Clinton for the past few days.

I would not have chosen the slogan that my party’s nominee did. America is already the greatest country on the planet. But our democracy is in trouble. You know this. The people on my side of the aisle know it. Bernie supporters know it. Donald Trump supporters know it. Our democracy isn’t working. Our future and our children’s future depend on our fixing it. And they certainly are counting on us to keep our democracy from going over the edge of cliff to where it simply cannot be fixed.

There will be plenty of time to talk about how we got ourselves into this position, but now — today, not tomorrow — is the time to act to save the democracy that all Americans, of all parties, love and that so many Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve.

Hillary — if I may be permitted to call you that [Clinton nods and smiles warmly] — Hillary and I disagree vigorously about many important principles. I don’t expect her to change her commitment to those principles any more than she expects me to abandon the principles I have spent my adult lifetime working for. But she and I understand that our Founding Fathers understood that Americans would disagree vigorously and yet not only respect one another, but would be able to work together. Their genius was to create a political system in which principled opponents could nonetheless fashion a government that gets done the work of the American people.

So, this morning I want to announce that in the coming term, no matter who is elected, as Speaker of the House and part of the Republican Party leadership I will do everything I can to re-install a spirit of bipartisanship and compromise. I will work with whomever is elected president to pass legislation that reflects the will of the people and our highest shared values. Compromising on legislation does not mean compromising our principles. Rather, it fulfills the vision of our Founders who, in their wisdom, cherished strong differences of opinions but nonetheless called on each of us to give as well as to get, because that is literally the only way forward.

Now, I said that I would work to instill this spirit of principled pragmatism no matter who is elected. But the truth is that I have lost faith that the Republican Party’s presidential nominee is capable of compromise. His behavior starting from the Republican National Convention has convinced me that he does not and will not adapt his positions to those of the Republican Party, the party of Lincoln. He does not have the beliefs, the temperament, the knowledge, the skills, or the basic decency and concern for others that are the minimal requirements for holding office in this land. I can no longer recommend, support, or endorse Donald Trump’s candidacy.

Thank you. But this does not mean that I support Secretary Clinton’s candidacy. I admire her lifetime of service to this country. I believe she is an honorable person driven by genuine concerns for what is best for Americans and America. But I disagree with her principles too much to be able to endorse her. I instead urge every American to vote her or his conscience. I especially urge Americans from every party to take a close look at the full slate of Republicans running for offices from the local to the statewide. I continue to believe that the genuine principles and policies of the Republican Party are the best for this country.

But I am convinced that at the national level we will be able to work with a President Clinton and make significant progress in many crucial areas. For one thing, the Republican Party needs to accept that Merrick Garland is fully qualified to be a Supreme Court Justice. It is the sitting president’s right to nominate him and the Congress’ duty to vote him up or down. Of course Judge Garland would not have been the Republican’s choice, but here is a clear case where we are called upon to compromise in order to have a functioning government.

I am likewise convinced that together we will be able to make real progress in immigration policy, reform of our criminal justice system, keeping automatic weapons out of the hands of terrorists and criminals, easing the burden on families sending their children to college, reforming the ACA so that it works better for all Americans, making sound investments in our infrastructure, preserving the entitlements Americans have earned, and reducing the debt. When I say I think we can make real progress on these issues, let me be clear. Under my leadership, the Republican Party will not abandon its principles, but we will pass legislation that expresses a reasonable compromise on both sides.

Over the past few days, Secretary Clinton and I have had quite remarkably frank conversations about all this. She has personally given me her word that if elected she will govern in the same spirit of principled pragmatism. I believe her.

We have had to travel to a dark place to get to this turning point. But I tell you with all my heart I believe that American democracy is now getting back on track. Together we can restore the greatness of the greatest democracy the world has ever seen. I thank you, the American people for seeing us, your poor servants, through this difficult time. I thank Secretary Clinton for her optimism and lifelong service. And I thank God for His patience with a country He has so blessed.

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