For someone who has repeatedly insisted that he is not interested in seeking the Republican nomination at an open convention, House Speaker Paul Ryan is certainly sending some mixed messages. Over the last couple of weeks, Ryan has delivered several soaring speeches, starred in several videos that have a distinct Ryan for President feel to them, and been remarkably outspoken about the primaries.

As the highest-ranking elected Republican, Ryan is obligated to maintain a national presence, of course. As speaker, his duties include being a spokesperson for the party. And if the Republican nomination was not in so much doubt, chances are that no one would notice anything odd about the way Ryan has been acting.

But we have to live in the world we live in, and in that world, Paul Ryan’s name keeps coming up as a possible alternative to Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. In that world, Ryan’s denials have to be taken in context – he also vehemently insisted that he would not run for speaker. The party convinced him that he owed it to the country to take up the mantle left by John Boehner. It surely would not be difficult to convince him a second time, especially when his presidential ambitions are well known. He might even be tempted to see his sudden rise as providence.

But if the Republican Party needs a savior, Ryan’s not it. More Jeb Bush than Ted Cruz, Ryan fuels presidential speculation precisely because he’s such an agreeable alternative. Problem is, alternative to what? Well, an alternative to the very men that Republican voters have put their support behind. Ryan has almost nothing in common with Trump, and he is far weaker than Cruz on immigration, budget cuts, and Islamic terrorism. That’s not to say that Ryan isn’t a conservative, but voters are not in a “let’s all get along” type of mood this year. We want to push back, and we want to push back hard.

Republicans have grown too comfortable with losing. This election is winnable, but only if the party elite get out of the way. Only if the establishment burns the old playbook. Only if they stop telling voters what to think and start listening to what they already do think.

Paul Ryan’s probably a nice guy. Somewhere down the line, when we’ve pulled our nation back from the brink of ruin, he might make a good president. But for now, we need someone who knows we’re at war.