Rep. Tim Ryan (D., Ohio) is plotting to mount a campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020 and will make wooing the “yoga vote” an integral part of his strategy, according to people who have spoken to the congressman.
Ryan, who has served in the House of Representatives since 2002 representing the working-class city of Youngstown and the surrounding area, is putting together a team in preparation for a forthcoming presidential campaign, according to The Intercept.
The congressman has begun pitching himself to political consultants and operatives as someone who can help bridge the widening cultural, economic, and geographic divides existing within the Democratic Party. To that end, Ryan believes “yoga voters,” described as those “who realize that … nobody trained them in how to pay attention and use their mind to focus on what’s important,” hold the key.
“Anybody who is negotiating the ’emotional land mine of modern day living’ could be someone Ryan’s message would resonate with,” The Intercept reported, quoting James Gimian, the publisher of Mindful magazine who knows Ryan.
The definition of “yoga voters” seems to overlap with the practice of “mindfulness,” a mental state achieved when an individual focuses their awareness on the present moment while simultaneously acknowledging and accepting their feelings, thoughts, and sensations. Mindfulness, which has roots in Buddhist practices, gained recognition as a method to relieve stress, anxiety, and illness in the late 1970s.
Ryan has long championed the practice, even writing a book on the concept and denoting it was behind his decision to form the congressional “Quiet Time Caucus,” which promotes meditation and self-reflection amongst lawmakers.
In 2012, Ryan served as an ambassador for Yoga Votes, a national non-partisan group seeking to encourage the 20 million individuals “who practice yoga” and mobilize them “to take their values into the public sphere.”
During a recent fundraiser in Ohio for a local youth yoga program, the congressman elaborated on “mindfulness” and the potential benefit it poses for the nation.
“A mindful nation takes care of everyone because you come to realize that we are all intertwined,” Ryan said. “It is about the 100 percent of us all moving together.”
It appears that Ryan, who has repeatedly told friends he’s “gonna win” if he runs, believes his working-class background coupled with the insights he has been able to develop while practicing mindfulness make him the perfect candidate to lead a Democratic resurgence in 2020.
Ryan, who had long resisted entreaties to run for governor or the U.S. Senate in his native Ohio, has attempted to cultivate a higher-profile within the Democratic Party in recent years.
The congressman surprised many in November 2016 when he launched an effort to oust Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) as the highest ranking Democrat in the House. Arguing that the Democratic Party was in need of a “new message and a new messenger,” Ryan’s bid garnered support from over 60 Democrats but ultimately proved unsuccessful in dislodging Pelosi.