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The GOP’s Ayn Rand Problem: Politics & Religion Don’t Mix

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Ron Paul represents Kentucky and that his son, whose full name is Randal, was named for Ayn Rand. The Daily Ticker regrets the errors.

Nearly 30 years after her death, Ayn Rand is arguably more popular than ever and is a major force in Republican politics.

But Republicans don't really get Rand's philosophy and "wouldn't be electable," if they really adhered to it, according to Yaron Brooks, president of the Ayn Rand Institute.

First, Rand was a true laissez faire capitalist who believed in "no government regulation, controls or intervention," Brook says. "Nobody in the Republican party has that true vision of a separation of economics from state, just like we separate church from state."

Not even Ron Paul (R-Tx.), who named his son (now a U.S. Senator) Rand, gets high marks from Brook. "I don't think Ron Paul comes at it from a Randian, truly individualistic perspective," he says. "You can see that on some of the social issues," like gay marriage and medical marijuana, "where he'll default to…'states can decide' rather than taking an individual rights perspective."

Second, Ayn Rand was an atheist and her philosophy of rational self-interest runs afoul of the Judea-Christian values of charity and taking care of others. This is a big political and moral issue for many Republicans of faith.

"Christians can not support Rand's philosophy and Christ's teachings," according to The American Values Network, which questions Rand's appeal to GOP politicians like Rep. Paul Ryan. "The choice is simple: Ayn Rand or Jesus Christ. We must choose one and forsake the other."

Brook does not deny the challenge for Rand's followers and says the left is trying to "put a wedge" in the Republican Party. Nevertheless, he believes Rand's philosophy is having a positive impact on American politics.

Ayn Rand provides a "moral and ethical defense of capitalism" that is "pushing the debate [to be] more oriented toward a free market point of view," he says. "The left doesn't have the moral high ground. It's OK to be pro individual [and] individual rights; it's ethically, morally justifiable."

What do you think?

Aaron Task is the host of The Daily Ticker. You can follow him on Twitter at @atask or email him at altask@yahoo.com

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