Ayn Rand — Why Does She Still Matter?

Why does Ayn Rand’s message resonate so strongly with so many of the far right wing, specifically and especially Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s chosen running mate?

In 2005, Ryan credited Rand’s philosophy with inspiring him to enter politics. Since being picked as the presumptive GOP vice presidential candidate, Ryan has distanced himself from Ayn Rand and her questionable philosophy, choosing to cherry-pick just the features of her Objectivism that he likes. What he doesn’t like, now, is the fact that she was not only an Atheist but an Anti-Theist, apparently absorbing the official view of The Bolsheviks when she was in high school in The Crimea.

This highlights the potential danger that any politician on the right risks when even mentioning Rand, for in so doing, they risk the wrath of the religious leaders of the Republican base. Still, Ryan speaks of Ayn Rand often. Why, do you suppose, are Ryan and others so fond of Rand despite the great potential political risk? Simply put, it is due, in the opinion of this writer, to the fact that Objectivism is, in large part, the philosophy of narcissism. Rand taught that we must ignore our feelings and rely solely upon our objective experiences, and that we must think mainly about ourselves and our own happiness and stifle our innate, human empathy, thus avoiding, as she put it, living our lives through others. And, so, as acolyte of Ayn Rand, Paul Ryan wants to eliminate all social programs which sprung from the natural empathy of the progressives who crafted them, programs such as Social Security, Medicare, regulation of business and the economy, curbs on the rights of individuals to benefit society, and the like.

When Ayn Rand’s philosophy was first warmly embraced by conservatives, it was during the cold war and her militant Atheism was ignored because the conservative movement found a champion in Rand due to the strong anti-Communism which grew out of her distaste for empathy and her love of rugged individualism. But Paul Ryan risks much, much more than his fellow conservatives of the 1950s did as he embraces her views, for they will not be understood by the conservative masses, rather few of whom are not religious, themselves.

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Art-itorial by Barbara Broido. Visit Barbara’s Doodle Blog for more of her art, design work and socio-political commentary.