In 2005, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) heaped praise on Ayn Rand, a 20th-century libertarian novelist best known for her philosophy that centered on the idea that selfishness is “virtue”. The New Republic wrote:
“The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand,” Ryan said at a D.C. gathering four years ago honoring the author of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.”
Ryan also noted in a 2003 interview with the Weekly Standard, “I give out ‘Atlas Shrugged’ as Christmas presents, and I make all my interns read it. Well… I try to make my interns read it.”
But today, Ryan is singing a far different tune.
From an interview with National Review’s Bob Costa this week:
“I reject her philosophy,” Ryan says firmly. “It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas,” who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit of knowledge. “Don’t give me Ayn Rand,” he says.
It’s understandable why Ryan would back off his former political muse. She described altruism as “evil,” condemned Christianity for advocating compassion for the poor, viewed the feminist movement as “phony,” and called Arabs “almost totally primitive savages.” Learn more about Ayn Rand in this short ThinkProgress video:
Despite Ryan’s newly-professed distaste for Rand, were she alive today, she would likely applaud Ryan for his draconian GOP budget, which cuts food stamps and other programs for the poor, ends Medicare as we know it, gives $3 trillion in tax breaks for corporations and the rich, and raises taxes on the poorest Americans.