Speaker of the House Paul Ryan blasted China and tribalism in a speech on Thursday to kick off the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute’s new office in Washington D.C.
“Of all the times we need Reaganism again is to show that inclusive aspirational politics is smart politics,” he said at the Reagan Institute’s inaugural event. “And right now we’re talking a little bit on the chin these days.”
Mr. Ryan said the end of tribalism and pride in American exceptionalism is needed domestically and internationally.
On the domestic front, the speaker argued that avoiding divisive politics is the key to winning elections. For the upcoming midterms, he said Republicans plan on focusing legislative issues, like the tax cut agenda, rather than scandals to sway voters to their side.
Regarding concerns abroad, Mr. Ryan touted free trade and the American spirit to challenge China’s growing grip on the international community.
To counter the rise of America’s Asian rival, Mr. Ryan emphasize the need to continue rebuilding both the military and trade relationships. He said the U.S. needs a united front with Canada, Mexico and European trade allies to confront China’s economic power plays in order to get them to play by international rules.
He warned that with communist China’s challenge to U.S. economic dominance comes a threat to freedom and democracy across the world. If industrial nations choose to partner and follow China’s lead, it will be able to spread anti-capitalistic and illiberal ideas.
“We can allow China to overtake us,” he said, “Or we can do as Ronald Reagan did. We can choose to lead.”
Roger Zakhiem, the director of the Reagan Institute’s Washington branch, said the institute plans on wading into the issues of political and economic freedom as they promote former President Reagan’s political philosophy in the nation’s capital.
So much of what President Reagan did in the presidency, in his seat in the Oval Office, was to promote globally but also at home, was to promote the importance of liberty, of freedom,” he told The Washington Times. “We going to look to engage leaders, elected officials and others to wrestle with the problems of today and draw from the legacy of our 40th president.”
Mr. Zakhiem said the Institute wanted Mr. Ryan to launch their work in D.C. because he was “a disciple of the world of Reagan” committed to a set of principles.
In honor of the Republican icon, Mr. Ryan pointed out how the 40th president’s policy ideas could continue to guide American politicians.
“President Reagan charted the right courseit’s peace through strength, pro-growth economy, clear moral leadership. It is not a new formula,” Mr. Ryan said, “What we need is a new willingness to think big and go bold.”