Ryan: GOP Must Stop Dividing Americans into ‘Our Voters’

By Melanie Arter | December 5, 2012 | 11:45 AM EST

GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan speaking at the 2012 Republican National Convention (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – Former Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Tuesday that the Republican Party must stop dividing Americans into “our voters” and instead “speak to the aspirations and the anxieties of every American.”

“Both parties tend to divide Americans into our voters and their voters. Let’s be really clear. Republicans must steer far clear of that trap. We need to speak to the aspirations, we must speak to the aspirations and the anxieties of every American,” Ryan said in a speech at the Jack Kemp Leadership Award dinner.

Ryan was the 2011 recipient of the Ryan was the 2011 recipient of the Kemp Leadership Award. Last night’s award winner was Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

Ryan called for “a bold departure from the approach that government has taken over the last five decades.”

“I believe we can turn on the engines of upward mobility so that no one is left out from the promise of America. It’s going to require though a bold departure from the approach that government has taken over the last five decades, with a few exceptions,” Ryan said.

“Government’s approach has been to expand bureaucracy and spend lots of money on bloated top-down anti-poverty programs. The mindset at work here is that a nation should measure compassion by how much it spends, by the sheer size of its government,” he said.

Ryan said this approach, which began in the 1960s, “created a debilitating culture of dependency,” which “wrecked families and tore communities apart.”

“This was so obvious to everyone that when we reformed welfare in the 1990s, the law was passed by a Republican Congress and signed by a Democratic president. What happened? Welfare enrollment dropped dramatically. Millions of people gained new lives of independence,” he said.

“Child poverty rates, child poverty rates fell over 20 percent in four years, and more single moms found jobs. Fewer welfare checks going out meant more money for states to spend on childcare so more moms could work and support themselves,” Ryan said.

“Welfare reform worked, because it encouraged the best in people. It appealed to their desire to shape their own destiny, and it helped get government out of the business of fostering dependency,” he added.

The problem, Ryan said, was that the “welfare reform mindset” was not applied with “equal vigor across the spectrum of anti-poverty programs.”

“In most cases, we’re still trying to measure compassion by how much we spend, not by how many people we actually help,” he added.