Paul Ryan elected Speaker of the House

It’s official. This morning, the House Freedom Caucus caved and allowed Paul Ryan to be elected as the next Speaker of the House.

Excuse me, per his request, that’s Speaker Paul D. Ryan.

With this vote, the House has just selected its most conservative Speaker since the Gilded Age, and until today it was unclear if they were conservative enough to get the House’s Burn the Government to the Ground Caucus on board with their candidacy.

Paul Ryan, via meltechfoto /

Paul Ryan, via meltechfoto /

However, now that Speaker Boehner has worked out a budget deal that takes all of what would have been Ryan’s bigger challenges off the legislative docket until after the next election, and Ryan has been given the opportunity to trash it (despite having worked on it and voted for it), Ryan will be able to get his feet under him before running into the buzzsaw that is the House Republican caucus.

Because make no mistake: this Speakership could very easily destroy Paul Ryan as it destroyed John Boehner. The House Republican caucus is as divided as ever, and the deviations from conservative orthodoxy required in order to be branded a RINO sellout are smaller than ever.

That said, Paul Ryan has a chance to be a disastrously transformative Speaker if he was coupled with a Republican administration. This is a guy whose mission since he entered the House was the destruction of the social safety net; if Republicans win the presidency and keep the Senate (which would be likely if they won the White House), they could demolish Medicare, Social Security and much of the rest of the safety net in short order.

So, you know, fingers crossed that the median American voter thinks last night’s GOP debate was as bad as I thought it was. Because Paul Ryan probably didn’t. And given the fact that the Republicans are set to control the House until 2022 at the earliest — and will likely continue to control it far beyond that time — we’re going to be seeing a lot of him.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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