Who is Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's running mate?

A fan of Ayn Rand, for starters.

Mitt Romney is to name Paul Ryan as his running mate on Saturday morning, according to Republican sources.

The vice-presidential candidate will be named at an event on the USS Wisconsin, in Virginia, but the campaign is yet to make an official announcement on the choice.

Ryan is a 42-year-old congressman from Wisconsin who was elected to the House of Representatives at 28. He is best know for his proposals for large spending and tax cuts - which increased his popularity with grassroots Republicans.

The New York Times political blog Five Thirty Eight named him as the "bold" choice of the two front runners (the other was Senator Rob Portman) - saying that Ryan was the "high risk, high reward" candidate:

Mr. Ryan would surely do more to excite the Republican base, and he could be a more dynamic figure on the campaign trail. But having never represented anything larger than a Congressional district, he is not as well vetted as Mr. Portman. Mr. Ryan, also, would introduce an ideological element to the campaign in the form of his conservative budget plan, which polls poorly with independent voters.

The blog suggested there were other places to look if Romney wanted to make a splash with the announcement, suggesting that, all considered, Ryan was just too risky. He was also dubbed the "long shot" for Romney's running mate in the New Yorker earlier this week, in an otherwise glowing review of his career as the Republican ideas man:

As in 2009, Republicans are divided between those who think they can win by pointing out Obama’s failures and those who want to run on a Ryan-like set of ideas. Romney seems to want to be in the first camp, but during the primaries he championed the ideas in Ryan’s budget. Ryan is frequently talked about as a future leader of the House Republicans and even as a long shot to be Romney’s running mate. He surely would take either job, but he seems better suited to continuing what he’s been doing since 2008: remaking the Republican Party in his image. You can’t “run on vague platitudes and generalities,” he told me earlier this month. He was speaking about Bush in 2004 and Obama four years ago. But he clearly believes that the same holds true for Romney in November.

Update: Mitt Romney has confirmed Paul Ryan as his running mate.

 
Paul Ryan. Photograph: Getty Images

Martha Gill writes the weekly Irrational Animals column. You can follow her on Twitter here: @Martha_Gill.

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Is it OK to punch a Nazi?

There are moral and practical reasons why using force to stop a far-right march is justified.

It says a great deal about Donald Trump that for the second time under his Presidency we are having to ask the question: is it OK to punch a Nazi?

More specifically, after the events in Charlottesville last weekend, we must ask: is it OK to turn up to a legal march, by permit-possessing white supremacists, and physically stop that march from taking place through the use of force if necessary?

The US president has been widely criticised for indicating that he thought the assortment of anti-semites, KKK members and self-professed Nazis were no worse than the anti-fascist counter demonstrators. So for him, the answer is presumably no, it’s not OK to punch a Nazi in this situation.

For others such as Melanie Phillips in the Times, or Telegraph writer Martin Daubney, the left have seemingly become the real fascists.

The argument goes that both sides are extremists and thus both must be condemned equally for violence (skipping over the fact that one of the counter-protesters was killed by a member of the far right, who drove his car into a crowd).

This argument – by focusing on the ideologies of the two groups – distracts from the more relevant issue of why both sides were in Charlottesville in the first place.

The Nazis and white supremacists were marching there because they hate minorities and want them to be oppressed, deported or worse. That is not just a democratic expression of opinion. Its intent is to suppress the ability of others to live their lives and express themselves, and to encourage violence and intimidation.

The counter-protesters were there to oppose and disrupt that march in defence of those minorities. Yes, some may have held extreme left-wing views, but they were in Charlottesville to stop the far-right trying to impose its ideology on others, not impose their own.

So far, the two sides are not equally culpable.

Beyond the ethical debate, there is also the fundamental question of whether it is simply counterproductive to use physical force against a far-right march.

The protesters could, of course, have all just held their banners and chanted back. They could also have laid down in front of the march and dared the “Unite the Right” march to walk over or around them.

Instead the anti-fascists kicked, maced and punched back. That was what allowed Trump to even think of making his attempt to blame both sides at Charlottesville.

On a pragmatic level, there is plenty of evidence from history to suggest that non-violent protest has had a greater impact. From Gandhi in to the fall of the Berlin Wall, non-violence has often been the most effective tool of political movements fighting oppression, achieving political goals and forcing change.

But the success of those protests was largely built on their ability to embarrass the governments they were arrayed against. For democratic states in particular, non-violent protest can be effective because the government risks its legitimacy if it is seen violently attacking people peacefully expressing a democratic opinion.

Unfortunately, it’s a hell of a lot more difficult to embarrass a Nazi. They don't have legitimacy to lose. In fact they gain legitimacy by marching unopposed, as if their swastikas and burning crosses were just another example of political free expression.

By contrast, the far right do find being physically attacked embarrassing. Their movement is based on the glorification of victory, of white supremacy, of masculine and racial superiority, and scenes of white supremacists looking anything but superior undermines their claims.

And when it comes to Nazis marching on the streets, the lessons from history show that physically opposing them has worked. The most famous example is the Battle of Cable Street in London, in which a march by thousands of Hitler-era Nazis was stopped parading through East End by a coalition of its Jewish Community, dockworkers, other assorted locals, trade unionists and Communists.

There was also the Battle of Lewisham in the late 70s when anti-fascist protesters took on the National Front. Both these battles, and that’s what they were, helped neuter burgeoning movements of fascist, racist far right thugs who hated minorities.

None of this is to say that punching a Nazi is always either right, or indeed a good idea. The last time this debate came up was during Trump’s inauguration when "Alt Right" leader Richard Spencer was punched while giving a TV interview. Despite the many, many entertaining memes made from the footage, what casual viewers saw was a reasonable-looking man being hit unawares. He could claim to be a victim.

Charlottesville was different. When 1,000 Nazis come marching through a town trying to impose their vision of the world on it and everywhere else, they don't have any claim to be victims.