I think I probably read less now than I once did, but I probably still read too much. Even so, there are definitely a number of gaps in my reading, and the famous atheistic philosopher Ayn Rand is one of them. I have never read anything she wrote. In the late 60s, I was very briefly an object of some sexual interest to an Ayn Rand disciple I was superficially acquainted with. But I never responded to those overtures and never acquired any motivation to read or even learn much about Ayn Rand.
Ayn Rand has been very much in the news this year, however, as the purported favorite philosopher of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan – as of today Mitt Romney’s running mate, to be officially anointed as the Republican candidate for V-POTUS at the party’s convention in Tampa later this month.
Whatever one thinks about Paul Ryan’s ideas, the interesting thing is that he has them. Until today, this has been a campaign completely bereft of such. While the media focus almost exclusively on trivia (“gaffes”), the two candidates’ campaigns have concentrated on reinforcing the dogmatic certainties of their respective bases. Paul Ryan as VP nominee will not end either the candidates’ catering to their narrow niche markets or the medias coverage’s commitment to silliness, but it does – for any who might be interested – definitely demonstrate that, for all its boring inanity, this really is an election in which the choice is between competing moral visions of human nature and society.
Mitt Romney largely comes across as an extremely wealthy man who unsurprisingly seems to exemplfy the orientation of his class that society should be organized for the primary benefit of the very wealthy. In Paul Ryan, however, his campaign now has acquired a genuine system of philosophical principles. Whereas Romney himself has thus far confined his programmatic proposals to vague generalities, the same can hardly be said about his running mate, who is the author of one of the most radical budget plans in our nation’s history. (If the Democrats play this right - something they don’t always seem to know how to do - they should be able to exploit Ryan’s proposals on Medicare, etc., as the gift that just keeps on giving).
If nothing else, this lackluster and utterly uninspiring campaign just became perhaps a little bit more interesting – certainly not inspiring but at least interesting.