On Sunday’s “Face the Nation,” host John Dickerson played a clip from an interview he conducted with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) on October 16.
During the interview, several interesting topics were discussed, including bipartisanship as it pertains to the media, as well as how identity politics has infected the Republican Party.
DICKERSON: Why do you think there’s not much talk about bipartisanship in the coverage?
RYAN: You know, I don’t think it sells for you guys, for the media. You take a look at the bills we pass out of the House – about a thousand bills. It’s been one of the most productive sessions of Congress in a generation. And of those roughly thousand bills, over 80% of them are bipartisan bills. So, we’ve tackled opioids; we’ve tackled human trafficking; we’ve rebuilt the military. All of those are bipartisan, but they don’t get reported. It doesn’t sell. So, I honestly think, John, it’s the hits and the clicks, and it’s the ratings chase that’s on display in America today that says when they’re fighting each other, that’s when you cover it.
DICKERSON: So if we accept some portion of responsibility for that, you’ve seen some of President Trump’s rallies. Do those rallies accentuate the things that unite us – the bipartisan achievements? Or do they do something very successful in politics…which is sow division in the country?
DICKERSON: Do you see that happening at his rallies?
Ryan replied that he does sometimes see divisive behavior at President Trump’s rallies, but that such behavior is not always present. When Dickerson pressed Ryan, the Speaker began to talk about the dangers of identity politics:
I worry about tribal identity politics becoming the new norm of how politics is waged. As conservatives, we always thought this was sort of a Left-wing, Alinsky thing. Unfortunately, the Right practices identity politics now as well. It’s the day and age, it’s technology and everything else – identity politics, which is now being practiced on both sides of the aisle, is, unfortunately, working. And I think we, as leaders, we gotta figure out how do we make inclusive, aspirational politics strategically valuable again?
Dickerson once again brought the subject back to the president, asking Ryan: “Does President Trump practice those kind of politics?” Paul replied that “sometimes he does and sometimes he doesn’t.”
Dickerson reacted incredulously, but Paul stated:
Look…on economic growth, on tax reform, on getting the military, and helping veterans – those are things that he has led us to that have really brought people together. And he talks about these at his rally, and that is inclusive.
Dickerson then asked if one should start on one’s “own team” when attempting to combat tribalism, noting, however, that the president has been incredibly successful playing hard politics:
President Trump has been very effective practicing the politics as they are, not as like some, you know, grad school idea of how they should be. But he’s gotten two Supreme Court nominees confirmed; he got the tax cut bill through. So tribalism is working out just fine if it’s getting points on the board.
Ryan explained that from his perspective, Trump’s leadership has achieved some great, unifying things:
Look, take the tax bill, for example, what is that going to do? That’s going to create economic growth and opportunity. It’s creating more investment. This company right here – thirty more jobs and higher wages, more investment in their factory to hire even more people. So, what does that do? That helps reduce economic anxiety. So, to me, the best way to combat tribalism is to starve it of its oxygen, which is anxiety – economic anxiety, security anxiety. And if we can pass policies that help improve people’s lives, make them more confident about the future, then they’ll be less prone to be swayed by the kind of tribalism identity politics we see these days.
When Dickerson stated that another way to avoid tribalism is to stay above the fray, Paul replied:
But what can we do? …I can control what I say. She [Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY)] and I don’t tweet these things. We say what we say. But also we pass policies that we believe are going to be good for this country, and are going to address people’s concerns and fears, and make them more secure in their lives.
Check out the full video here: