Speaker of the House Paul Ryan announces his retirement

by Matthew Shepherd, ’19

Paul Ryan, current Speaker of the House, announced April 11 that he would not be seeking re-election come 2018 midterm elections. While this may seem like nothing more than an average retirement to those outside the sphere of politics, inside the sphere, it may signal some sort of major change.

One signal that this retirement—as well as a slew of other GOP retirements—sends is the possible flip of the House of Representatives. Ever since the election of President Donald Trump, Republican leaders in Congress have been on the receiving end of Trump’s vitriol, including calling them fools and quitters. For instance, when addressing the possible repeal of Obamacare, Trump tweeted, “Unless the Republican Senators are total quitters, Repeal & Replace is not dead!”

This division could allow a highly energized Democratic base to seize control of the House from Republicans. Despite the fact that Republicans have outpaced Democrats in terms of voting rates in the last two midterms, Democrats are now polled to be ahead. The Washington Post reports, “65 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independent voters say they are certain to vote, compared with 63 percent of Republican-leaning voters.”

Sophomore Ariana Kanchuger, who identifies as a liberal democrat, thinks that Ryan’s retirement could lead to chaos within the GOP.

“Things might be a little chaotic or unorganized for a bit. Without Ryan’s leadership, the party will have a power vacuum, and all the competing interests in the GOP will fight to fill it,” Kanchuger said.

Although there is no confirmation yet, Ryan’s retirement may lead to changes within Congress. While not a certainty, this shift could manifest as a flipping of the House or, more unlikely, the Senate.