Paul Ryan spoke to Young Republicans in Wisconsin last Friday, and, in an attempt to motivate Republicans to vote, the Speaker of the House instead electrified young liberals by suggesting that if Republicans lose control of the Senate in November’s election, Senator Bernie Sanders would become the Senate’s Budget Committee chairman.
Ryan’s casual reference to Sanders had a viral effect on the liberal cognoscenti, with commentators agreeing that “Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders” did not sound like a bad idea.
Sanders was of course this election’s most likable presidential candidate, and, prior to Hillary Clinton’s nomination, polls suggested that Sanders would have been a much more difficult opponent for Republican nominee Donald Trump than Clinton has been.
Ryan has a knack for these unintentional gaffes. A similar Ryan blooper was his tweeting of a photo of Republican Capitol Hill interns, not anticipating that the Internet would notice and mock mercilessly the group’s stunning lack of diversity.
In contrast to Ryan’s conservative politics, Sanders’ campaign articulated an unashamedly liberal vision of progressive politics, and Sanders almost singlehandedly brought the philosophy of democratic socialism into the American mainstream, particularly with Millennial voters. A Sanders budget may literally be Paul Ryan’s biggest fear.
It is not a certainty, however, that the Democratic Party would pick Bernie Sanders to chair the Budget Committee, but prospective Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has suggested that Sanders would indeed chair a “significant committee” in the event that Democrats regain control of the Senate.
FiveThirtyEight currently (as of 4:30pm, October 17) gives Democrats a 72.3% chance of taking control of the Senate with Republican Senate candidates sinking in the polls in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Nevada. Frustrating Republican efforts further, the Senate races in Missouri and North Carolina have turned from leaning Republican to tossups.
With Donald Trump purposefully damaging the entire Republican Party brand three weeks before the election, it is increasingly likely that Paul Ryan will have to face his fear of a Bernie Sanders Senate committee.