Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Independents Shrugged

Ayn Rand, the L. Ron Hubbard of the conservative movement, wrote Paul Ryan’s favorite book, Atlas Shrugged, in 1957.  Atlas Shrugged turns the concept of class warfare on its’ head by telling the sad story of the abuse and victimization of the creative and entrepreneurial class at the hands of the lazy moochers in the working class.  In her fictional tale, business owners and entrepreneurs go on strike to demonstrate that they are sick and tired of supporting everybody else in society through their efforts.  It is a manifesto that preaches vigilance against the jackbooted thuggery of a top Federal income tax rate of 39.6%, like we had during the economic depression of the Clinton years.  
Just as L. Ron Hubbard gave birth to a zealous religious following with his novel Battlefield: Earth, Rand has mothered a cult of believers who hold that her romance story is a cautionary tale about a government overrun by Democrats and Obamalytes.   Her religion would argue that feudal lords were oppressed by the serfs who demanded land for planting, plantation owners were oppressed by the slaves who demanded freedom of movement, and industry titans were oppressed by a government that demanded laborers have a safe working environment.  In her world, we owe homage to these providers and should be thankful for whatever pittance we are granted, lest these leaders take their economic ball and go home.  Any attempt to limit the damage that one group can inflict on another distorts the perfect marketplace where all is purified as Darwin predicted, although I am told that Darwin’s writings are theories only.

Newly minted Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan believes so strongly in the book’s message of a coming reverse class warfare that each intern for the congressman receives a copy of the book for Christmas.  He insists that his acolytes indoctrinate themselves in the message that workers and like rabble with demands are “moochers”, and government regulations punish and discourage wealth creation.  The poor have it too easy in Ryan World, and his interns need to learn that lesson early and often. 

Reality has never supported this extreme Ayn Rand/Paul Ryan fantasy world, but it does make for an entertaining read.  America was not relegated onto the ash heap of history after the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1937.  Business creation did not end with the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act during the Bush 41 administration.  Unemployment insurance has had less impact on the public work ethic than the proliferation of shows like Jersey Shore
The problem with cults is there is little room for middle ground or nuances opinions.  In Paul Ryan’s Atlas Shrugged inspired world view, you are either part of his solution or part of the problem.  The rich are victims.  Ignorance is strength.  War is peace.  And now, he would aspire to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency.  Paul Ryan’s Atlas Shrugged religious values bother me more than Obama’s imaginary Muslim beliefs, and we should consider Ryan’s allegiance to this book’s teachings when entering the polling station in the fall. 
Make no mistake.  Paul Ryan is an effective politician (if not a legislator – in 13 years in office, he has proposed and passed two bills, one of which was renaming a post office), savvy in interviews, well-spoken in public debates.  Democrats would do well not to underestimate his skills.  He is not Michelle Bachmann.  While he has less executive experience than the last GOP VP nominee Sarah Palin, and less real world working experience than the last Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama, he is inexplicably considered presidential timber.  Perception in politics is reality, so Romney did not blow it with his choice.  There were far worse options for Romney, and the list is long with pretenders and wackos who think they deserved consideration.  Paul’s greatest qualification is that most of the public has never heard of him, and with only 10 weeks until Election Day, that’s a plus. 
Romney’s choice of Ryan, besides pleasing fans of Presidential ticket naming alliteration, was a clear nod to the Far Right base of his party, a skeptical base that required reassurance that Mitt is as “severe” a conservative as he said he was a few months ago (he does tend to change his positions).  Unfortunately, in bending over for the party’s base, independent voters may shrug, and may decide not to hold him up on their shoulders come November 6th.  Time will tell.

As I have said before, Romney never really scared me all by himself.  Romney with a Republican Congress scares me, and now he has chosen to marry himself to the ideological extreme of the least popular Congress in history.  That to me is scarier than Atlas taking the world off of his shoulders for a few minutes of rest, regardless of what Ayn Rand thinks.   

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