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Paul Ryan says lawmakers climb ranks of Congress by ‘being an entertainer’

Former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said in an interview Thursday that there is a difference between the way lawmakers climb the ranks in Congress now and 10 years ago, adding that lawmakers in both parties today are “entertainers.”

“In the old days, like 10 years ago, if you wanted to do really well in Congress, if you wanted to succeed, you climbed a meritocracy. The measurement of success was policy and persuasion,” Ryan said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

“That’s not necessarily what motivates people anymore. There’s a lot of entertainers in Congress from both parties,” he said. 

Ryan served as House Speaker from 2015 to 2019 before leaving Congress. 

“The old meritocracy that takes 10, 20 years to climb, of being a good policymaker, you can just leap-frog that whole process, be a really good entertainer, have an incredible [digital] presence and forget about policymaking and curate a brand for yourself,” Paul said. 

Former President Trump was notorious for using Twitter to spread his viewpoints on issues and gained popularity through the platform.

And lawmakers like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), a progressive firebrand and millennial, have shown adeptness at communicating with constituents through social media.

Ryan said he believes the rise of the entertainer in Congress has hurt bipartisanship as it is “bad for a brand” if a person compromises on an issue.

“If you are going to entertain, if you are going to try to show that you’re better than everyone else within your own ecosystem” it makes it more difficult to be willing to compromise, Paul added. 

His comments come as lawmakers are in talks about gun control measures following the Uvalde, Texas, elementary school shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers. 

A bipartisan group of five Democrats and five Republicans came together to begin discussions on a proposal, although it is unclear whether the talks will amount to anything. 

Since the shooting, Democrats have pushed for gun control measures like background checks, while Republicans are focusing on ways to up school security.

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez bipartisanship divided country Donald Trump Paul Ryan Paul Ryan Social media Trump

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