"Objectivism" was Rand's philosophy; individual rights along with the pursuit of one's own happiness was the essential morality that she espoused. She saw laissez-faire capitalism as the most logical milieu for nurturing the values of her philosophy. Little wonder that Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan was enamored with Ayn Rand and loved her book so much that he gave it out to people. Rand was voicing what the right wing Tea Partyers are extolling: no more government handouts, no more taxing away our money that belongs to us because we earned it. Government bureaucracy is inefficient and bad, private enterprise is good. All of these ideals are to be found in Ayn Rand’s philosophy.
Paul Ryan is now backtracking because he found out that Ayn Rand was an atheist, or maybe it’s because she favored a woman’s right to an abortion. The whole Ryan/Rand incident exemplifies something that I see that is wrong with politics and the media sound bites of our day. For one thing, Paul Ryan should be able to articulate which aspects of Ayn Rand’s philosophy he agrees with and why, and which ones he disagrees with. The problem is that such articulation would require a sophisticated understanding of the world that is not made up of simple black-and-white issues. Such an explanation would also require more than a 20-second sound bite and unfortunately Ryan’s followers may not attend long enough to hear an explanation.
Ryan has made his political capital on Tea Party issues of private enterprise, no taxes, no government handouts, and family values. He is free to hold his economic and political views, though they are not views that I hold to. As much as I would love to make an issue of the “Godless Free-Market Capitalism” of Ayn Rand and pin that on Paul Ryan due to his past exuberant embrace of her philosophy, and as much as I would love to point out to Tea Partyers that their family values have been sold down-river by the money-mad right-wing politicians, I shall refrain. It is important, however, for anyone to take stock of what they say they believe and to consider what the consequences of political actions would be. The ethic that I hold to affirms that we are to take care of one another. The morality of a society is seen in how the weakest and most vulnerable are treated.