A group of eighth graders on their annual trip to Washington, D.C. refused to pose for a picture when House Speaker Paul Ryan was gracious enough to pause his day and spend time with them. As the Washington Post reported:
For students across the country, the traditional eighth-grade trip to Washington is a chance to join the throngs on the Mall and perhaps spot some of the world’s most powerful people on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol.
But a group from South Orange Middle School in New Jersey may remember their trip to the nation’s capital last week for another reason: It was the occasion for a pointed snub of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.).
Dozens of the 218 students on the trip refused to have their photo taken with Ryan when he briefly joined them outside the capitol Thursday, students on the trip said. Those present were unable to provide a precise tally of how many opted out.
Naturally, the Post is gleefully celebrating this snub, but one wonders how exactly these children came to make their political stands. Typically, an eighth grader will be far more concerned with dating and Facebook and Pokemon Go than with the goings on of the House of Representatives, but a few students told the Post exactly why they refused a picture with Ryan.
Matthew Malespina, one of the students who stayed away, said in an interview Sunday that he chose not to be photographed with Ryan because he disagreed with the policies the speaker and his party are pushing on health care, among other things. He called Ryan “a man who puts his party before his country.”
Okay, that is literally word-for-word the Democratic Party's talking point about Ryan (and all Republicans, really). Where on earth did young Matthew learn to parrot it? And speaking of Democrat talking points:
Sophia Kraiker, 14, another student who declined to be in the photo, told The Post that she wanted to distance herself from Ryan because he is “shadowing Trump’s ideas.”
Which ideas would those be, Sophia? Does anyone really think she has any clue about the nuances of public policy? Or is she just "shadowing" what she hears her parents and teachers say?
The students pretty obviously were told that skipping out on the Ryan photo was an option and were pretty obviously told ahead of time how terrible Ryan is, so it seems worth noting that the Post never bothered to seek a comment from the school.
13 and 14 year-olds quite simply don't care enough about politics to plan for themselves a protest action like this. Disagree? Ask any 13 or 14 year-old who the Speaker of the House is. If they answer correctly, ask them his position on fiscal policy, military spending, entitlement reform, literally any issue.
Kids that age are incredibly impressionable, so it's rather disappointing that their teachers and/or parents would encourage this sort of disrespect and, honestly, this sort of hate for those whose political beliefs differ from their own.