Paul Ryan's Town Hall Disappointed Both Parties & Twitter Won't Let Him Forget It
On Monday, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan held a town hall meeting in Racine, his Congressional district in Wisconsin. The event was hosted by CNN and featured the speaker answering questions selected by the network. Some of the audience members in attendance were constituents from Ryan's district, who were invited by CNN.
The speaker covered a variety of topics during the Town Hall, including health care, tax reform, Trump's reaction to the Charlottesville tragedy last week, and whether or not it is appropriate to Congressionally censure Trump, among other issues.
Twitter was certainly abuzz as CNN aired the event. Many members of the public, as well as civil society organizations and congressional leadership, took to social media to react to Ryan's comments. Overwhelmingly, many of the reactions seemed critical, from, interestingly, both the left and the right.
The apparent majority of individuals on Twitter seemed to critique Ryan for his advocacy of various policies (like tax reform and health care) that do little to improve the lives of everyday people (and indeed, may even inhibit them). Furthermore, criticism from conservative individuals tended to stem from a perceived lack of support for Donald Trump by Speaker Ryan or from his failure to pass any substantive conservative legislation.
The following list represents a compilation of some of these Twitter reactions reflecting criticism for Ryan from both sides. Twitter's response indicates that Ryan's town hall perhaps did not necessarily have the effect he desired.
1What Has He Accomplished?
Representative Hank Johnson ponders what many are likely thinking.
2Tax Cuts & Poverty
Representative Mark Pocan contemplates how exactly Ryan's proposed tax reforms will help those in need.
3Where Are The Citizens?
A Twitter user indicated that he believed that the Town Hall audience was not representative of this district.
5The People's Speaker?
NARAL wonders how exactly Ryan is meeting his constituents' needs.
6Take A Look At The Middle Class
#RyanTownHall My advise to you take a walk outside of your privileged life and look at US the middle class. We would like a break too.— Indigo (@indigo2214) August 22, 2017
A Twitter user expressed frustration with what they perceive as Ryan's privileged vantage point.
7Not Keeping Promises
This Twitter user expressed their frustration with Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and their failure to pass conservative legislation thus far.
Paul Ryan's attempt to explain poverty to a nun was something widely critiqued on social media.
Town hall is a disaster because Paul Ryan is a disaster. Third in line people. Think on that and weep #RyanTownHall— Lynn Turchin (@FormersportsMOM) August 22, 2017
A woman lamented the fact that Ryan is third in line to the presidency.
10Tax Plan Expressing Values?
This Twitter user noted that he believes Ryan's tax plan is a broader reflection of who and what he values in society
11Highs and Lows
Seeing Trump's speech and the #RyanTownHall was a big fall after today's eclipse high. Being down to earth has a new meaning after today.— Greg Brian (@Gregoriancant) August 22, 2017
This man noted that, for him, Monday came with high points and low points — and Ryan's Town Hall was not a high point.
12Here's What Missing
No questions on infrastructure, education, climate change, and many other topics, and just ONE question on health care #RyanTownHall— Rep. Mark Pocan (@repmarkpocan) August 22, 2017
Representative Mark Pocan also delineated what Ryan failed to address during his town hall.
This woman questioned why Ryan seems so keen to defund Planned Parenthood if (as many pro-choice organizations have regularly pointed out), federal funds already cannot be used for abortions.
This Twitter user questioned Ryan's (and the GOP's) priorities.
15Difficulties in Denouncing
Much of Twitter was critical of Ryan's tepid condemnation of Trump's response to the Charlottesville tragedy.
16Goals Or Lack Thereof
This woman asked what exactly the GOP is seeking to accomplish in Congress, particularly after its failed attempts at health care reform.
17Denial As Tactic
...Ryan ends answer on Trump's bigotry with "i tell my kids to turn off the tv, get off the internet" - wow. Denial as tactic. #ryantownhall— Jessica (@JessicaGoldstei) August 22, 2017
This woman appeared aghast with Ryan's comments on his response to Trump's bigotry.
Many on Twitter, including this user, pointed out inconsistencies in Ryan's statements, such as his desire to "keep up" with the rest of the world — except when it comes to providing health care to all citizens.
This Twitter user also pointed out Ryan's inconsistent stance on sanctuary cities (the Speaker does not support their existence) when considering historic GOP support of states' rights.
20Calls For Resignation
Here's a summary of Paul Ryan's Town Hall: "I'm a DC SWAMP politician and betrayed the President, please vote for me". RESIGN! #RyanTownHall— The Mann Report (@The_Mann_Report) August 22, 2017
This user appeared frustrated with Ryan and his failure to support the President as well as differentiate himself from the "D.C. swamp."
21Suggestions For Policy Priorities
Keep it simple: Repeal Obamacare. Build the Wal. Repeal Johnson Amendment, Cut Taxes, restore states' and individual rights #RyanTownHall— Arthur C. Schaper (@ArthurCSchaper) January 13, 2017
This man proposed his list of what Ryan should focus on accomplishing in Congress.
Ryan is selecting the people who attend and the questions to be asked . This is a fake town hall. Not one where everyone can attend.— In your dreams 🌙 (@dragginflyy) August 15, 2017
This Twitter user expressed dismay at the pre-planned format of the Town Hall.
Paul Ryan on war in Afghanistan: No timelines. Spend until we win.— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) August 22, 2017
War on poverty: This has gone on too long. Can't sustain this spending.
Matt Fuller, a journalist, pointed out that Ryan is only willing to spend funds on what he deems as priorities.
Overall, it is clear that Ryan appeared to let a lot of social media users (from both sides of the aisle) down with his Town Hall. Speaker Ryan has not yet reflected much on the outcome of the Town Hall on his own social media pages, but it will be interesting to see if he characterizes it as a success or acknowledges its shortcomings.