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Paul Ryan’s Alma Mater: From Miami of Ohio to GOP’s Philosophical Leader

The campus' culture still seems prominent in Ryan's life.

by
Mary Beth Ellis

Bio

November 4, 2012 - 12:00 am
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Its mostly respectable athletics programs are competitive without tipping into a frenzied fan culture or the NCAA-flouting excesses which so often follow. Miami occasionally plays the likes of Florida and Ohio State, despite the fact that the result often resembles this season’s 56-10 drubbing in Columbus. Judging by the pictures, however, Miami’s marching band had a wonderful time, and that’s the core of the affection: the alums shrugged, said “Oh, well,” and rather than call for the head of coach Don Treadwell, went on marrying one another.

Yet amongst this sea of red bricks and Mergerism, Ryan made a philosophical outcry against conformism in his 2009 commencement speech:

I’m not going to judge the 1960s, but I wonder whether we haven’t somersaulted back to a more subtle conformism rooted in the rebellion that overthrew the old one.

In the days of the old conformism, children using naughty words only had their mouth washed out with soap. Today’s students, faculties, and administrators, and many academic institutions must learn which phrases can never be spoken, or might even sound like a word that can’t be spoken for fear of being ostracized. We have moved from a world of accepted rights and wrongs to a relativist world where everything is okay but for accepted rights and wrongs.

The conformism of our time is relativism. Destroy these timeless standards and you destroy our highest hopes and aspirations.

The conformism of the giant corporation and the new conformism of the government bureaucrat are practically the same thing, erecting more hurdles on entrepreneurship, work, savings, and capital, and blinding the vision of risk takers with a wall of directives is Washington’s analogue to campus conformism.

If these words were startling to hear on a college campus just 18 months after Obama was elected, bear in mind they were spoken at Miami, where Ryan’s frat house flew a Republican flag the day he returned to town in a Romney-Ryan campaign transport.

According to the highly accurate Bickers and Berry model, an electoral vote forecasting formula from the University of Colorado, the home of a vice presidential nominee has no statistical impact on whether a state checks in as blue or red. Then again, Paul Ryan wasn’t born in Ohio. He sure attended college there, though — a college with a deeply loyal alumni base which tends to stay put in Ohio, a state where 3% of the vote could well decide the next president of the United States.

About three months after he presented himself to his old college town as a vice presidential candidate, Ryan visited a rally in Cincinnati. He held aloft the buckeye lent to him by Rob Portman on Miami’s campus, which, he told the crowd, travelled with the senator throughout his own campaign. There are parts of Ohio, it seems, that Paul Ryan always carries with him.

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