The selection of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's running mate will offer a choice to voters this fall who said by their votes four years ago they wanted real change. Forget that hope stuff. Anyone who puts hope in a politician is bound to be frustrated.

Ryan wants to restructure Social Security and Medicare so it is available for future generations, but offer broader choices, including private sector insurance. These two entitlement programs are the biggest drivers of debt. Everyone knows this, but neither party has the will to fix them. Republicans know they will be demagogued if they try because that's what has happened in the past.

We need a fairer, flatter tax as Steve Forbes says; a tax code people can understand with everyone paying something. But we also need sharply reduced and less wasteful spending. The issue Romney and Ryan should push is not who pays more in taxes, but why the government misspends so much of what we give them.

Is America prepared for an adult conversation, or will we allow ourselves to be caught up in meaningless talking points and lying TV ads? The answer will come in early November.

In New York, I'm Cal Thomas.

Publication date: August 13, 2012