Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan once fell all over philosopher Ayn Rand's ideas, telling a crowd at an Atlas Society event in 2005 "I grew up reading Ayn Rand and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are. It's inspired me so much that it's required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff."
Ryan has also said if he had to pick one person who got him engaged in public service, it'd be Rand. And while her individualism inspired Ryan's budget plan, his Catholic background would be a major disappointment to the conservative ideologue.
Here are four ways Ryan's and Rand's philosophies are at odds.
Rand was an atheist, prioritizing realism and dismissing any existence of a higher power. Rand believed religion clouded the mind of people and kept individuals from realizing their potential. Therefore, Rand firmly supported the separation of church and state. Ryan, however, is the first Catholic nominated by Republicans for national office and even used Catholic teachings to defend his budget plan early this year. "The work I do as a Catholic holding office conforms to the social doctrine as best I can make of it," he said in April at a Georgetown University appearance. "What I have to say about the social doctrine of the church is from the viewpoint of a Catholic in politics applying my understanding to the problems of the day."
In an interview with the National Review, Paul said he rejected her philosophy.
"It's an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview," Paul said. "If somebody is going to try to paste a person's view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas, Don't give me Ayn Rand."
On Social Issues
Jennifer Burns, the author of Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, says Rand was one of the earliest defenders of abortion. She was very clear that a woman's right to control her own body took precedence over her unborn child. In one of her newsletters she wrote "an embryo has no rights. Rights do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being. A child cannot acquire any rights until it is born."
Ryan, on the other hand, is in stark opposition to abortion under any circumstances, even in cases of incest or in instances when the mother's life is at risk. He has a 100 percent approval rating from National Right to Life Committee, a major pro-life organization. Ryan also supported adding a personhood amendment to the Constitution, which would give a fetus equal rights and stated life begins at conception. Rand was a firm believer in scientific advancements and likely would have been an advocate for embryonic stem cell testing, while Ryan voted against the controversial research.
On Ronald Reagan
In May, Paul Ryan made an appearance at the Ronald Reagan library in California and said America was desperately in need of the kind of "boldness and clarity of the kind that Ronald Reagan displayed in 1980." Ryan, like other fiscally conservative Republicans adores the budget hawk, but Ayn Rand hated Reagan.
"She thought he was extremely destructive figure," Burns says. She was disgusted by how he let his religious beliefs influence his political perspective. And she devoted one of her final newsletters to encouraging Americans not to cast ballots for Reagan in the primary. In the Ayn Rand Letterm she wrote "I urge you, as emphatically as I can, not to support the candidacy of Ronald Reagan. I urge you not to work for or advocate his nomination, and not to vote for him."
On Welfare Programs
Ryan's budget plan would make drastic reforms to Medicare. Under Ryan's plan, the retirement age would rise and Medicare would be replaced with a private healthcare vouchers. Rand supported cuts to government welfare programs, but Dr. Onkar Ghate, a senior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute, argues Rand would be disappointed because Paul's plans don't go far enough. "She was opposed to the federal government trying to provide for individuals. What we should be doing is siphoning these programs out."