EASTON, Md., November 29, 2011 — Ayn Rand, like Typhoid Mary, is highly contagious, having infected key players in the Republican Party, leaving it weakened and often toxic.
Years ago William F. Buckley, founder of The National Review, inoculated the GOP against the Rand contagion, but now the Rand virus is sprouting even on the pages of his magazine.
The Golden Girl and philosopher of the Far Right Wing of the Republican Party is none other than a Russian émigré who died nearly 30 years ago, but her ideas are still seen as bright and bold by her acolytes, influencing not only the direction of the Republican Party, but where they want to take this country.
The Rand recipe for a better America? In two words: laissez-faire capitalism. You need only to read her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged, to see how she detested the average American and loved capitalists, particularly hot, smart ones. According to Ayn Rand, America needed to rid itself of “moochers,” meaning anyone receiving government assistance from Social Security to unemployment compensation, and from the “looters,” meaning the government, which she claimed beleaguers and hamstrings what Republicans call the “job creators.”
Just read what said to Mike Wallace in a 1959 interview:
Wallace: And you believe that there should be no right by the government to tax. You believe there should be no such thing as unemployment compensation, regulation during times of stress.
Rand: That’s right. I am opposed to all forms of control. I am for an absolute, laissez-faire, free, unregulated economy.
Gee, where have we heard that before? On the floor of Congress. And even House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) before the Economic Club of Washington DC sounded like he was channeling Rand when he expounded that business “has been antagonized by a government that favors bureaucrats over market-based solutions. They’ve been demoralized by a government that causes despair when we need it to provide reassurance and inspire confidence.”
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), and son of Congressman Ron Paul, first rhapsodized over the philosophy of Ayn Rand while in college in letters to the editors and op ed pieces. He warbled the praise of her book Atlas Shrugged, about “a dystopian United States where most of society’s most productive citizens [aka job creators] refuse to be exploited by increasing taxation and government regulations….”
But young Paul’s passion was no youthful fever, nor was it because he was named for the author. He wasn’t. His name is Randal Howard Paul and he was called Randy for years till his wife took to calling him Rand. However, as he says in the YouTube video about his name, he is happy people think he’s Ayn Rand’s namesake.
Now twenty-seven years later, this past spring, while sitting on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, an older Paul railed against government plans to transition from the incandescent light bulb to more energy saving light bulbs, citing Rand’s 1937 novel Anthem. The similarity, according to Paul, is that “individual choice is banned and the collective basically runs society.” Just for the record: The companies making light bulbs were all for this change.
Then there is Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who concocted the budget plan he dubbed the “Road to Prosperity,” the one rebuked by the Catholic Church. He is also a fan of Ayn Rand. He invokes her name and principles in speeches as he most recently did before the Heritage Foundation when he warned his audience that “We’re coming close to a tipping point in America where we might have a net majority of takers versus makers in society and that could become very dangerous if it sets in as a permanent condition.”
Translation of Takers v. Makers: Moochers v. Job Creators.
Ryan is such a Rand devotee that he even requires his staffers to read Atlas Shrugged, especially since he believes the President’s economic policy is a nightmare right out of an Ayn Rand novel. This devotion to Rand’s principles is the soul of the Ryan budget and the reason that many condemn it as anti-Christian as Ayn Rand herself was.
Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) has been a life long libertarian and contrarian, reveling in tweaking his fellow Republicans for their spendthrift ways. And now he can look at them as the deficit they caused swallows the country and can say, “I told you so.”
But sadly, he too is infected by the Ayn Rand virus, which is probably how his son contracted his own virus. In fact, according to the National Journal, “By far, the person most likely to mention Ayn Rand [on the floor of Congress] is Ron Paul, the current libertarian hero.… He has invoked Ayn Rand’s name nine times in the span we [the National Journal] surveyed: when criticizing the post office, while commemorating the 100th anniversary of her birth, and in an article submitted mentioning her during a tribute to Milton Friedman. And Ron Paul is notably the only member of Congress to actually quote Ayn Rand during this period.
“Paul’s favorite occasion to bring up Ayn Rand is when he is talking about the one government spending program he apparently loves: NASA. On at least five different times he’s submitted the same Ayn Rand quote commemorating the Apollo 11 moon landing.”
In fact, if you look at Congressman Paul’s record and listen carefully to what he says during the debates, you would think he had just stepped out of an Ayn Rand book.
So is the country ready to go really, really Right into Libertarian Land? Probably not as far as Congressman Paul would like to lead them, but he has had a sizable impact upon how Republicans now think. And the fervor of his followers is not to be dismissed. They will be a huge factor in the GOP primary, driving the last GOP candidate standing even further along the path to cupidity at the expense of the rest of us.
Ayn Rand would probably be surprised to see just how respectable her ideas have become. However, the 2012 election will tell us if the American voters are ready to turn their back on the nation’s core principles and follow the tenets of the woman some have called the “godless goddess of greed.”
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