I’m enthusiastic about the opportunities Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate affords Catholics in a particular way. Congressman Ryan represents a new generation of leadership with a renewed sense of identification — recatechizing itself and educating, asking fundamental questions about what it means to be Catholic and what that means for life and leadership. This parishioner of St. John Vianney Church in Janesville, Wisconsin, is doing in his public life what the ticket is joined in the battle to protect — the God-given right of Americans to live their faith outside the walls of a house of worship. There will be harsh criticisms to come, but he is as well equipped as anyone to engage.
This is going to be a contentious campaign season — as we have seen — and it will continue to be. But, goodness, is Paul Ryan up for the challenge. Some links you might want to check out if you’re interested in learning more about his morally serious approach to economic policy here and here and here and here and here and here.
My favorite part of Governor Romney’s announcement this morning was this:
His leadership begins with character and values. And Paul is a man of tremendous character, shaped in large part by his early life.
Paul’s father died when he was in high school. That forced him to grow up earlier than any young man should. But Paul did, with the help of his devoted mother, his brothers and sister, and a supportive community. And as he did, he internalized the virtues and hard-working ethic of the Midwest.
Paul Ryan works in Washington – but his beliefs remain firmly rooted in Janesville, Wisconsin. He is a person of great steadiness, whose integrity is unquestioned and whose word is good.
Paul’s upbringing is obvious in how he has conducted himself throughout his life, including his leadership in Washington.
In a city that is far too often characterized by pettiness and personal attacks, Paul Ryan is a shining exception. He does not demonize his opponents. He understands that honorable people can have honest differences. And he appeals to the better angels of our nature. There are a lot of people in the other party who might disagree with Paul Ryan; I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t respect his character and judgment.
Paul is in public life for all the right reasons – not to advance his personal ambitions but to advance the ideals of freedom and justice; and to increase opportunity and prosperity to people of every class and faith, every age and ethnic background. A faithful Catholic, Paul believes in the worth and dignity of every human life.
With energy and vision, Paul Ryan has become an intellectual leader of the Republican Party. He understands the fiscal challenges facing America: our exploding deficits and crushing debt – and the fiscal catastrophe that awaits us if we don’t change course.
Paul Ryan combines a profound sense of responsibility for what we owe the next generation with an unbounded optimism in America’s future and an understanding of all the wonderful things the American people can do.
Paul also combines firm principles with a practical concern for getting things done. He has never been content to simply curse the darkness; he would rather light candles. And throughout his legislative career he’s shown the ability to work with members of both parties to find common ground on some of the hardest issues confronting the American people.
Americans are cynical about politics. But there are good, serious, grounded people in Washington trying to get good serious grounded work done. Paul Ryan is a leader among them. It is good for America to meet him, get to know him better, and elect him vice president. The main criticism of Ryan may be that he’s spent his adult life working in Washington; this will also be the tremendous advantage he will bring to a Romney administration: knowledge about how to get things done there. Even with Ryan’s youth, it’s a Cheney-like decision on Romney’s part in that way.