BY MATTHEW CONTINETTI –
‘America is more than just a place,” Paul Ryan told the Norfolk, Virginia, crowd during his first speech as Mitt Romney’s running mate. “It’s an idea. It’s the only country founded on an idea. Our rights come from nature and God, not government.” The audience roared at this mention of natural rights. Ryan uses similar language in almost every stump speech. He wins applause every time.
Mitt Romney’s selection of Ryan was significant for many reasons, but here is one that hasn’t been much commented on: It gives the Republican ticket a newfound and solid grounding in the language of the Declaration of Independence. When Ryan makes the Republican case, he does not limit his argument to economic efficiency, enhanced productivity, cost cutting, or laissez-faire. He has expanded the scope of debate to include foundational principles of government.