House Speaker Paul Ryan called Wednesday for a kinder, gentler politics in the campaign age of Trump.
Ryan, R-Wis., bemoaned the current state of American politics in a Capitol Hill speech – his latest broadside against the coarse discourse of election 2016 and a veiled rebuke of Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump.
“We shouldn’t accept ugliness as the norm,” he said. “We should demand better from ourselves and from one another.”
Earlier this month, Ryan chastised Trump – again, without naming him – for what he considered his tardy response in denouncing the Ku Klux Klan and former grand wizard David Duke. Even though he’s been critical of Trump, Ryan has said he’ll support whoever becomes the Republican presidential nominee.
We shouldn’t accept ugliness as the norm. We should demand better from ourselves and from one another.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
Ryan told the audience gathered in the House Ways and Means Committee hearing room Wednesday that “Looking around at what’s taking place in politics today, it is easy to get disheartened.”
“What really bothers me the most about politics these days is the notion of identity politics,” he said in response to a post-speech question. “That we’re going to win elections by dividing people. That we’re going to win by talking to people in ways that divide them and separate them from other people.”
The Wisconsin Republican admitted that he hasn’t always been a saint in that regard.
“There was a time when I would talk about a difference between ‘makers’ and ‘takers’ in our country, referring to people who accepted government benefits,” he said. “But as I spent more time listening, and really learning the root causes of poverty, I realized I was wrong.”
He added: “So I stopped thinking about it that way – and talking about it that way. But I didn’t come out and say all this to be politically correct. I was just wrong. And of course, there are still going to be times when I say things I wish I hadn’t. There are still going to be times when I follow the wrong impulse.”