Even-tempered, tall, dark, handsome and heterosexual: If these qualities were still in demand in Tinseltown’s leading men, the Romney-Ryan Republican presidential ticket would be described as the stuff of Hollywood.
As goes Hollywood, so go D.C. and the country. None of the constituents the Republicans are told to appease – if they are to reclaim the White House on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November 2012 – is partial to upstanding, good-looking, staunchly Christian, white males.
The ladies, the Latinos, the halt and the lame: These identity groups – political constructs of the left’s making – will be galvanized to lambaste the two leading Republicans for being too attractive, too macho, too white, too Christian and too rich.
And for speaking favorably of Ayn Rand. Ostensibly, at least.
Paul Ryan has come under coruscating attack in the progressive press for admitting that Rand’s peerless defense of the morality of laissez-faire capitalism influenced him.
Despised by the left, reviled by many on the right, Ayn Rand would have appreciated the picture-perfect aesthetic of the Republican duo, if not its policies and political philosophy.
According to CNN, Ryan once addressed the Atlas Society, “a group dedicated to promoting Rand’s beliefs.” In that 2005 speech, he said this:
“I grew up reading Ayn Rand and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are and what my beliefs are. It’s inspired me so much that it’s required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff. … the reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand. And the fight we are in here, make no mistake about it, is a fight of individualism versus collectivism.”
Ayn Rand, of course, was no fan of “public service,” unless it was in the service of reversing the damage done to the voluntary economy by legislators. The Republicans’ repeal-and-replace statism doesn’t cut it.
At MSNBC, Commissar Rachel Maddow ran the Ryan-Rand clip as though she had stumbled upon a crime scene.
Ryan is “not a fiscal conservative,” asserted Maddow, after the screening. Rather, the presumptive Republican vice-presidential nominee was an acolyte of “this person, Ayn Rand,” spat the TV talker.
“This person.” What disdain the left has for Ayn Rand, who was a trailblazing female – a Russian émigré who instantiated in novel form a comprehensive, thoroughly American philosophy of freedom.
For someone who is considered smart, Maddow sure says a lot of deeply stupid things. Her mindless claim is predicated on the assumption that “fiscal conservatism” and the beliefs of Ayn Rand are mutually exclusive.
While Ayn Rand was no social conservative, she was fiscally conservative. In fact, “fiscal conservative” is just how a libertarian anarchist – more radical than Rand – might describe Rand, who advocated not the absence of government but a night-watchmen government.
“Give me Thomas Aquinas, Don’t give me Ayn Rand,” proclaimed Ryan in a subsequent interview with National Review.
Why renounce Rand in this manner?
Mitt Romney’s pick for VP could have calmed down to a blind panic and simply reaffirmed the influence Ayn Rand had on (the better parts of) his political thought.
The quest for mutually exclusive categories, be it by Maddow or by Ryan, falls flat here. Ayn Rand would have renounced Saint Thomas Aquinas for his faith. But she would be wrong to deny that natural-rights philosophers like herself owed a debt of gratitude to Aquinas, the foremost philosopher of natural law. Aquinas deferred to revelation to justify the natural rights of man; Rand to reason. But does a difference in justification change the fact that the natural rights of man remain unalienable in both belief systems?
Unrelenting in maligning Ayn Rand, Maddow ended on a loud moo:
“In Ayn Rand’s novel, she leads her readers to see the wealthiest people as heroes, heroes that must be protected. The rich are heroes and everybody else is a taker. The more the rich have, the better. The better for everyone. That is not fiscal conservatism, either. It is something else.”
Rubbish. Rand scorned those rich whose ill-gotten gains were derived by using the coercive power of the state – Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, George W. Bush, to mention a few. In Rand’s book, these men have not earned an honest crust.
Rand’s celebrated “rich” were the men and women who bring to market the products and services without which life would be miserable, and for which Maddow is a walking ad.
The clothes she is kitted-out in, her coif, the devices she uses to communicate and transmit her sub-intelligent message, the food she buys cheaply to sustain her efforts – these are all produced, facilitated or brought to market by the invisible hand she labors to lop off.
The “rich” were voted into riches by the only democratic vote – the dollar power of the ungrateful masses, who, like Maddow, cannot do without the computers, software, hardware, hand-held devices, air conditioning, airplanes, apparel – on and on – the rich provide.
The left treats “the rich” as a reified, rigid state-of-being. Ayn Rand – and all men and women of reason – understand that “rich” is a work in progress.
Achieved through voluntary cooperation, riches are a reward for work well done. (Which is why this book is well-worth buying.)