The Republican Party is going through an identity crisis. When it comes to social issues, the party prides itself on its Christian values. Citing biblical sources, most republicans are against abortion, gay marriage, the teaching of evolution in schools, and anything else that they see as an affront to their religious beliefs. Yet when it comes to fiscal policies, there is another philosophy that guides the party. A philosophy that stands in stark contrast to anything one could consider Christian. That philosophy is Objectivism, and it was created by the atheist philosopher named Ayn Rand.
We can see a clear example of the party’s love affair with Ayn Rand in Wisconsin Governor and Republican nominee for Vice President Paul Ryan. Until a month ago Paul was very outspoken about his love of Ayn Rand’s work. He has suggested her books to his staff, and is even on record telling an Objectivist organization that she is the reason he went into public service . He is not the only republican to be so explicit with his love of her either. Rush Limbaugh has plugged her books on his radio show, Fox News promoted the recent film adaptation of Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged, Ronald Reagan wrote that he is admirer of her work in a personal letter, Clarence Thomas hosts an annual screening of the 1949 film adaptation of her novel The Fountainhead, and so on. Her influence is, in other words, fairly widespread.
The tension between Ayn Rand’s philosophy and Christianity is that Rand’s philosophy is centered on selfishness, while Christianity’s focus is charity. According to Objectivism, in a purely capitalist society the rich are rich due to their intelligence, strength, and motivation alone. They deserve the entirety of their wealth as a reward for their work and owe nothing to the rest of society in the form of taxes or charity. The other side of this coin is that the meek deserve their poverty, as they are less valuable to society as a whole. If you are poor, it is because you deserve to be poor. It doesn’t take much to see how her philosophy stands against the well known words of Christ: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
There are many on the right who see this contradiction too. Some Christian leaders have begun coming out against Ayn Rand and a few Republican political figures are attempting to create a distance between themselves and her philosophy. Paul Ryan recently claimed that his love of Objectivism is an “urban legend” despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Regardless of this ostensible shift away from Ayn Rand, Paul and the rest of his party pay tribute to her philosophy with every financial policy they introduce and push for. In fact, Paul’s recently proposed budget would end the taxation of capital gains, interest, and dividends which would have made less than 1% of Mitt Romney’s 2010 earnings taxable. There is nothing remotely Christian in allowing billionaires the right to hoard even more of their money.
I propose that Republicans pick a side, or at least give a better account of how the two conflicting philosophies can be reconciled. Otherwise the party is committing a logical fallacy; a belief in both A and Not-A. They are sitting on the fence and refusing to choose between compassion and selfishness. As it stand now, rather than being the party of Jesus and his Christian values or the party of Ayn Rand and her Objectivist values, Republicans have become the party of George Orwell and his theory of cognitive dissonance.