Prior to Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate, I was going to vote “for” Romney in the sense of voting against Obama. In light of this development, however, I not only plan to vote for Romney-Ryan; I also emphatically endorse their ticket, and I urge readers of TOS, Objectivists, and fans of Ayn Rand to do the same.
Clearly—and contrary to leftist hype that I wish were true—Ryan is not an Objectivist. (Nor, thankfully, does he pretend to be one.) He doesn’t understand what rights are or where they come from; he doesn’t advocate laissez-fare capitalism; he has voted for and supports various rights-violating policies; and his fundamental philosophy, Catholicism, guarantees that he will continue supporting such policies in the future. But it is crucial to bear in mind that no politician today advocates genuine freedom, none understands the principle of rights, all support rights-violating policies, all embrace fundamentally false philosophies. This is the political reality of the day. And, in this reality, Paul Ryan is as good as it gets.
Ryan is an intellectual, which means he is genuinely concerned with ideas. He is even, to his credit, concerned with Ayn Rand’s ideas. Although he has made clear that he prefers Thomas Aquinas’s epistemology to Rand’s, he has also made clear that he sees Rand’s ideas as important, worthy of consideration, and substantially capable of explaining the state of the world.
For a politician to appreciate Rand’s ideas (even if he doesn’t fully understand them) and to extol them publicly is a welcome development. For the same politician to see entitlement programs as the main political problem throttling the U.S. economy—and to be willing and able to articulate why—is also welcome. For this same man to be selected as the vice presidential candidate on a viable ticket for the White House—when the alternative is an incumbent dedicated to destroying America—is as good a development as anyone could reasonably have hoped for today.
Ryan’s reverence for Rand, shallow as it may be, is a major positive because it helps to bring Rand’s ideas to the fore in American politics. Just as the movie Atlas Shrugged: Part 1, which was far from great art, nevertheless helped to inject Rand’s ideas into the national discussion, so this Rand-inspired vice presidential candidate, who is far from an ideal politician, will help—and indeed is helping—to inject Rand’s ideas into the national discussion.
Romney’s choice of Ryan has and will continue to have people talking about Rand’s views, reading her works, considering her arguments, and weighing them against conventional ideas. Thus it will raise the level of intellectual discussion and provide great opportunities for people who understand Rand’s ideas to educate others about them. It will also naturally raise a beautiful question in the minds of Americans every time the Republican duo advocates a policy or takes an action: Is this consistent with Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism? This, in turn, will give Objectivists the further opportunity to answer this question in op-eds, in radio and television interviews, and across the media and social media at large.
This is not merely good. This is gold.
I urge you not only to vote for Romney and Ryan, but also to campaign for them. And don’t just campaign for them; do so explicitly on the grounds that—given the context of the day and the alternative at hand—Ryan’s reverence for Rand’s ideas (albeit mitigated by Catholicism), his willingness to discuss them publicly, and the possibility that he might occasionally turn to them for guidance make him (and Romney) worthy of support.
Further, let Romney and Ryan know that the more they embrace Rand’s ideas the greater their credibility as “America’s Comeback Team”—and the greater your incentive to support their campaign. In other words, let them know that Rand’s ideas are not a “third rail” in American politics, but rather the Rearden Metal of American politics: sound, strong, and successful when used.
Let’s seize this opportunity to explain to people how and why Ayn Rand’s ideas—her observation-based metaphysics and epistemology, her life-serving morality, and her rights-protecting politics—require phasing out Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, so citizens are not enslaved to each other; deregulating the economy, so producers can create wealth, jobs, and prosperity; eliminating barriers to immigration, so Americans can associate and contract with whomever they choose; ending regimes that seek to harm us, so we can live free from terrorism; in short, reestablishing the Land of Liberty, so Americans can exercise their moral right to the pursuit of happiness.
For the first time in history, America faces the possibility of an administration that is at least partially sympathetic to Ayn Rand’s ideas. Let’s help convert this potential to an actual—while redoubling our efforts to educate people about the principles, implications, and applications of Objectivism.
Romney-Ryan 2012—Ayn Rand forever.
Update: See also the follow-up articles, "Further Thoughts on Why Objectivists Should Actively Campaign for Romney-Ryan" and "Principle vs. Pragmatism in Supporting Romney-Ryan."
- Ayn Rand's Theory of Rights: The Moral Foundation of a Free Society
- Paul Ryan Rejects Ayn Rand’s Ideas—In Word and Deed
- How Paul Ryan as GOP VP Nominee Does—And Does Not—Change The Debate
Creative Commons Image: monkeyz_uncle