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Paul Ryan, All-American Teenager

Hey, have you guys heard about this Paul Ryan character yet? He sure is divisive! Just a few short days after he was announced as Mitt Romney’s running mate he’s become one of the Top Things To Have An Opinion On. But I think we are being a bit too...

Hey, have you guys heard about this Paul Ryan character yet? He sure is divisive! Just a few short days after he was announced as Mitt Romney’s running mate he’s become one of the Top Things To Have An Opinion On—“I like this Paul Ryan,” you might hear someone say. “He is attractive and good with numbers and if I were a gay fella… Well, say no more.” Another opinion might be: “Boy, howdy! This Paul Ryan makes me angry because of his many views! Time to write a listicle to persuade all the Jezebel readers not to vote for him despite his small-town charm and good looks!”


For the next few days (or “news cycles,” as they are called in the political world, a land where it is always 11 AM and cloudy and everything tastes like ashes and pain), Ryan is going to have his whole life examined to a horrifying degree. Hours after the announcement, we were already reading Yelp reviews of the Mexican restaurant where he used to work. Every controversial vote he took part in, every stock trade he made, all of it will be paraded in front of the segment of the population that cares. Ryan will be judged and a verdict (or several) will be reached. But I think we are being a bit too hard on him, because he is just a teenager, after all. Yes, Paul Ryan is just a normal teenager, if perhaps a late-blooming one. My evidence:

OK, I know, he denounced Ayn Rand this week, but her writing still clearly informs his worldview. Just like it takes some kids a while to get over the romanticism of Kerouac, I think Ryan is still carrying a torch for Objectivism. For teenagers, Rand is great because she reinforces their belief that their desires are the most important thing in the world, and she pisses off liberal parents with her pro-capitalism and religious ones with her atheism. Sooner or later, most people recognize that she fails to acknowledge moral shades of gray and is also an enormously shit writer (sample line: “She saw the look of the luminous gaiety which transcends the great innocence of a man who has earned the right to be light-hearted.”) and they sort of quit her, or tone it down at least.


Hell yeah, bro. Look at those ‘ceps. GTL, am I right? His workout obsession is a little worrying, actually, because teenaged boys who work out all the time are the worst pieces of shit in the universe. If we send him to China on a diplomatic mission, he’s going to keep slapping drinks out of important peoples’ hands for fun (“Look alive, bro!”) and back some poor wife of an official into a corner to tell her all about his core routine.

The most amusing moment in a father’s life is when his 16-year-old son goes, “Hey dad, did you know about this band Led Zeppelin? They’re amazing!” Then follows what Americans have instead of Vision Quests or other rites of passage: a solid six months to a year during which the young man spends all of his time alone in his room listening to Led Zep over and over trying to decipher the meaningless lyrics a drug-addled Robert Plant came up with 40 years ago. It’s a gateway to either better music or airbrushed cars. I hope Ryan chooses wisely.

“You know what rocks even harder then Zep? Dude, I gotta get you on this band my older brother turned me on to. They’re like Audioslave but, like, way fucking more agro. Great fuckin’ music to workout and get fuckin’ pumped to. Like, there’s this song that goes ‘Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!’ This is my new shit, bro.”

If you resurrected my old laptop from tenth grade, you’d find a lot of files titled “Manifesto,” “Manifesto2,” “The Right Way To Live,” and “Why Punk Will Never Die!” I grew out of it and my computer died, thank God, so no one will ever find those. Ryan, however, still loves writing manifestos, and wrote 98 pages of philosophical vagueness in support of his budget plan. Don’t make fun, guys: Many of us go through that “I am an important thinker!” phase. Totally normal.

At any rate, none of this is meant as an indictment of Ryan. Like many teenagers, he has a lot of room to grow, and a lot of exciting stuff to look forward to. Stuff like:

-Bruce Springsteen
-Going “all the way”
-Discovering what Rage Against the Machine lyrics mean
-Ron Paul
-Experimenting with gay stuff
-Sonic Youth
-Doing his own laundry
-Fraternity pledging
-Having his heart broken
-Breaking someone else’s heart

Let’s let him grow up a little and experience some of that before we judge him, OK?