The Romney campaign has gone all flibbidy-woo over Paul Ryan, making him the GOP vice presidential candidate. And, apparently, everyone in my generation (Hello, Gen Xers!) are going to be super happy about it. (Not.)
I’m not sure who’s more happy about this nomination, my liberal friends or the conservatives who hate us. But one thing is for sure, I am already so over hearing Ayn Rand references. My twitter exploded with them as soon as the nom was announced! (PS: Can I block twitter followers based on their enthusiasm for Rand? Because if so, I need to learn how to do that.)
Besides my zealous distaste for all things Rand, the English lit nerd in me is also quite peeved. (And they say you can’t use an English degree! Ha!) Because over and over again I have been seeing quotes and ideas attributed to Rand-style thinking that has no basis in reality. None. And if Rand was anything, she was a stickler.
The reality is that conservatives are just cherry-picking certain quotes and phrases from the Rand cannon (kind of like they do from the Bible, which is ironic in this case). And even though I can’t stand Rand, I think it merits pointing out the utter hypocrisy of this situation. The truth is that the bastardization of Ayn Rand’s brand as short-hand for ultra-conservatism is not only false advertising but it makes you look stupid. In fact, if she were alive, I think she’d be pissed.
Don’t believe me? Here’s my fact-based evidence:
- Rand HATED religion: No exceptions. No Flying Spaghetti Monster in any form. In fact, she likened the belief in God to one that made a person an “abject zombie.” And she called faith “extremely detrimental to human life” in an interview with Playboy.
- Abortion is totally cool: Sorry, conservatives, but Ayn Rand was not only okay with abortion, she believed, “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. The living take precedence over the not-yet-living (or the unborn). Abortion is a moral right—which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be considered. Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to her what disposition she is to make of the functions of her own body?”
- No company is too big to fail and no job is worth saving: Rand believed in true laissez-faire capitalism, which means the chips fall where they fall. No bail outs. No government regulations. If you bet big and lose it all, sucks to be you. Likewise, if you get screwed by a scam (See: Bernie Madoff, et al), serves you right for being an idiot. So that means that in this election, a true Randian approach would be NO campaigning about fixing the economy. Because in Rand’s world, business is not the government’s job. Ever.
- ‘The Virtue of Selfishness’: Rand rejected any form of altruism and embraced “the virtue of selfishness” (even publishing a paper with the title) because making yourself happy is the only pure pursuit for human kind (well, that part does sound like the GOP). She believed that a truly rational person never helps anyone but themselves, which means no company is too big to fail (see above) and no person is too important to save from death, poverty, or destruction. In short: You’re on your own. (Except when you need help from the government just for yourself, like getting welfare to help pay for medical bills when you have cancer. But only for yourself. No one else.) Or, as she put it in The Fountainhead: Don’t fool yourself, my dear. You’re much worse than a bitch. You’re a saint. Which shows why saints are dangerous and undesirable.
- Suck it, science: While conservatives love to elevate creationism (sorry, Rand would hate you for that) over science, this point is about the shades of gray. While Rand was big on reason and logic, she railed against any form of altruism, even in the pursuit of scientific knowledge. You know, like the kind used to make medical breakthroughs and save people’s lives. (Because why would you waste your mind on helping someone other than yourself?) Or, the kind used to send machines to Mars. (Because why do you care about any other planet? You live on Earth, duh.)
- When you love Rand, the elitist snobs win: Irony alert! Remember all those times that Bush criticized Democrats as Ivy-league elitists? Academic snobs in ivory towers? You do realize the Ayn Rand is an author of books. As in literature. She revered the philosophy of Aristotle, logic, reason, and higher-order thinking (even if flawed by any moral standard). She’s the epitome of an elitist. She was absolutely a snob. And when you use her dogma as your own, you are confessing to reading literature other than the Bible (which is just a book of fairy tales to Rand, by the way).
So, you know that thing when you realize that you’ve been supporting a brand and philosophy that is actually nothing like your own brand and politics? Yeah, this is that.