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Ayn Rand vs. Paul Ryan

| August 15, 2012

Ayn Rand and Paul Ryan: not much of a resemblance. (From the very able and prolific Barbara Broido at BNV)

Much is being made of how Ayn Rand inspired Paul Ryan, much of it by Ryan himself, though since Mitt Romney picked him as his choice for vice president, Ryan has been flip-flipping his way out of his own embrace of Rand, for a variety of reasons. Jennifer Burns, an assistant professor of history at Stanford and the author of Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, writes in The Times of the absurdity of Ryan’s identification with Rand, not only because of her atheism or her support for abortion rights, and her legendary hatred for Ronald Reagan:

the live wire flaglerlive“Rand’s anti-government argument rested on another binary opposition, between “producers” who create wealth and “moochers” who feed off them. This theme has endeared Rand, and Mr. Ryan, to the Tea Party, whose members believe they are the only ones who deserve government aid. Yet when his embrace of Rand drew fire from Catholic leaders, Mr. Ryan reversed course with a speed that would make his running mate, Mitt Romney, proud. “Don’t give me Ayn Rand,” he told National Review earlier this year. “Give me Thomas Aquinas.” He claimed that his austere budget was motivated by the Catholic principle of subsidiarity, which holds that issues should be handled at the most local level possible, rather than Rand’s anti-government views. This retreat to religion would have infuriated Rand, who believed it was impossible to separate government policies from their moral and philosophical underpinnings. Policies motivated by Christian values, which she called “the best kindergarten of communism possible,” were inherently corrupt.”

Maureen Dowd sums up the Rand obsession pretty well as “a state of arrested adolescence, making its disciples feel like heroic teenagers atop a lofty mountain peak,” and notes that “Ryan co-sponsored the Sanctity of Life Act enshrining a fertilized egg with the definition of “personhood” and supported a bill Democrats nicknamed the “Let Women Die Act,” which would have let hospitals that get federal money deny women abortions even in life-threatening circumstances. And Rand would not have approved of Ryan’s votes in the House backing W.’s profligate spending on unwinnable wars, a bank bailout and a Medicare expansion. She would no doubt have been thrilled, however, that under the Ryan budget plan, the megarich Romney would go from paying shamefully as little as possible in taxes to virtually no taxes.”

We’ll be seeing plenty of these contradictions in the next few weeks as Rand could become for Ryan a bit of a crutch in the Jeremiah Wright or Bill Ayres sense. “Modern conservatives,” Burns concludes, “ignore the fundamental principles that animated Rand: personal as well as economic freedom. Her philosophy sprang from her deep belief in the autonomy and independence of each individual. This meant that individuals could not depend on government for retirement savings or medical care. But it also meant that individuals must be free from government interference in their personal lives. Years before Roe v. Wade, Rand called abortion “a moral right which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved.” She condemned the military draft and American involvement in Vietnam. She warned against recreational drugs but thought government had no right to ban them. These aspects of Rand do not fit with a political view that weds fiscal and social conservatism. Mr. Ryan’s selection as Mr. Romney’s running mate is the kind of stinging rebuke of the welfare state that Rand hoped to see during her lifetime. But Mr. Ryan is also what she called “a conservative in the worst sense of the word.” As a woman in a man’s world, a Jewish atheist in a country dominated by Christianity and a refugee from a totalitarian state, Rand knew it was not enough to promote individual freedom in the economic realm alone. If Mr. Ryan becomes the next vice president, it wouldn’t be her dream come true, but her nightmare.”

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6 Responses for “Ayn Rand vs. Paul Ryan”

  1. Liana G says:

    Paul Ryan is the ideal Conservative and the ideal Liberal combined. Nice.

    “The devil could change. He was once an angel and may be evolving still.” ~Laurence J. Peter

  2. Samuel Smith says:

    Admittedly, they are both manlike.

  3. Everyman says:

    Atlas Shrugged Part 2 will be in theaters October 12th, 2012.

  4. jespo says:

    “Don’t give me Ayn Rand,” he told National Review earlier this year. “Give me Thomas Aquinas.”

    Well, this makes sense for the Republican Party. The Vice President in running wishing to be granted the mantle of St Thomas Aquinas…a small minded self proclaimed theologian whose God outlook consisted of self evidentiary evidence (which amounts to nothing), a minimalist understanding of trinitarian god worship, and who believed pagans or non Christians fell short on the human ladder and were most likely to spend eternity burning for their sins. Dominican…Domini Canis…God’s Dog…at it’s best, in every sense of the word.

    This is the best we can do????? Really? Another fucking asshole selling his soul to proclaim nothingness because that’s what he believes will get him a job. This is suppossed to be the guy we put in charge should something terrible happen to the President? He should have stuck with Rand, at least there was some honesty…you may not have liked it, but at least it was honest.

  5. Samuel Smith says:

    I am interested in hearing how supply side economics and an unfettered market deals with issues like the gulf BP oil spill or morton thiokol, thanks in advance!

  6. w.ryan says:

    As a moocher my only contribution to society is in the high taxes that is forced on me which contributes to every aspect of this capitalist society we live in. This applies to each and everyone poor slab who’s working to pay the bills and isn’t a “Job Creator”. Medical and Technological advances have been because of this as well as other suppressions on individualism. As for the Anti-Socialist (don’t do the right thing) philosophy, Ryan like most conservatives: not excluding Justice Thomas, must explain his turnaround after receiving social assistance to get where he is today. His pandering is for his benefit. Now that he is wealthy, screw the other guy!!!

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