Paul Ryan's Dangerous Obsession with Ayn Rand

The Wisconsin congressman's selection as Mitt Romney's VP has brought Rand's ideas to the forefront.

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Honestly, grown men who swear by Ayn Rand might be locked up inside the house—and not the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan. I mean back home in Janesville, Wis., where your new stature as presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney's running mate has raised a hullabaloo all the way up to Baraboo. The venerable Alan Greenspan should be put under honorary house arrest, too, for his lifelong disciple-like embrace of Rand's ideas, which has cost the country more dearly than we shall ever know.


As chairman of the Federal Reserve during four presidencies, Greenspan displayed a laissez-faire ferocious faith in the free marketplace. This caused him to completely ignore signs of the economy going soft and awry on his watch. Remember when the dot com bubble burst?  

The late Rand's entrance into this presidential election, thanks to Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, is more serious than it seems. Sweet reason has a hard time with Rand glorifying selfishness as political doctrine. Now that "selfishness ethic" happens all the time, accompanied by vicious attacks on the federal government and people who work for it, in the Republican-run House. It's not all the author's fault, but Ryan's devotion to Rand is yet another Republican insult and injury to classic American ideas of fairness, squareness, and civic-mindedness. 

[See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 campaign.]

In fact, the Ryan-authored House Republican budget document, which cuts the heart out of our body politic, ripping social services and Medicare to shreds, is a pledge to the Rand coat of arms, standing against people who need a little help from other people. And in turn, Rand gives him a rationale for the intellectual poverty of his ideas. 

I don't know grown women mean enough to believe in Rand's lunar-like worldview. Her "objectivism" is portrayed in glittering novels, including We The Living, Atlas Shrugged, and The Fountainhead. Then again, she was not much interested in reaching women. Let's be real: In life and work, this woman cared about having men in her thrall. She succeeded beyond what you might expect of a nice girl from St. Petersburg, born in 1905.

[Read: Would Ayn Rand Approve of Paul Ryan?]

Trouble was, she got stuck in the Russian Revolution upheaval at an impressionable age. Scarred by communist collective ideals and the violence of change, she created the uber-capitalist myth of the strong man standing alone years after emigrating to the United States as a young woman. She also worked as a screenwriter.  

Some would say Rand actually devolved from Social Darwinism. As despicable as her influence is, Greenspan can say he was caught up in a vanguard of his younger days, when the Soviet Union set off waves of  alarrm and opposition to Communism as practiced by the ruthlesss Joseph Stalin. 

[See a collection of political cartoons on the economy.]

But Ryan, 42, has lived his life on the right side of the tracks in the serene peace of Janesville, so why is he so sharp-edged with our social contract? So far, his mark on the 2012 race is allowing Rand to skip down two generations, from the octogenarian Greenspan to himself. Rand died in 1982, but hey, she lives on in a real way to this day. 

  • Read Ron Bonjean: Five Reasons Paul Ryan Is the Right Choice for Mitt Romney
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