As I’ve admitted on this blog before, I was a teenage Ayn Rand fanatic. I owned all of her books, cassette tapes of her lectures and every single issue of The Objectivist, The Objectivist Newsletter and The Ayn Rand Letter. I’m not exactly proud of this fact, but what can I do? Thankfully it didn’t take me that long to outgrow this nonsense, but for good or ill, I still to this day have a pretty good working knowledge of her philosophy and life’s work.
This morning it popped into my head, appropos of nothing, how much Ayn Rand railed against Ronald Reagan before she died and I recalled one particular essay from one of the final issues of The Ayn Rand Letter where she asked her readers not to support Reagan and instead to vote for Gerald Ford, who Reagan was challenging for the GOP nomination at the time (and who appointed her loyal apostle and acolyte, Alan Greenspan, to his position as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board).
I’m guessing that a lot of Republican Ayn Rand fans—maybe this will be news to Rep. Paul Ryan and Senator Rand Paul—probably don’t realize that their hero had such a dim view of The Gipper…
From The Ayn Rand Letter, Volume IV, Number 2, November-December 1975:
Now I want to give you a brief indication of the kinds of issues that are coming up, on which you might want to know my views.
1. The Presidential election of 1976. I urge you, as emphatically as I can, not to support the candidacy of Ronald Reagan. I urge you not to work for or advocate his nomination, and not to vote for him. My reasons are as follows: Mr. Reagan is not a champion of capitalism, but a conservative in the worst sense of that word—i.e., an advocate of a mixed economy with government controls slanted in favor of business rather than labor (which, philosophically, is as untenable a position as one could choose—see Fred Kinnan in Atlas Shrugged, pp. 541-2). This description applies in various degrees to most Republican politicians, but most of them preserve some respect for the rights of the individual. Mr. Reagan does not: he opposes the right to abortion.
From Rand’s final public speech, “Sanction of the Victims,” delivered November 21, 1981:
In conclusion, let me touch briefly on another question often asked me: What do I think of President Reagan? The best answer to give would be: But I don’t think of him—and the more I see, the less I think. I did not vote for him (or for anyone else) and events seem to justify me. The appalling disgrace of his administration is his connection with the so-called “Moral Majority” and sundry other TV religionists, who are struggling—apparently with his approval—to take us back to the Middle Ages, via the unconstitutional union of religion and politics.
The threat to the future of capitalism is the fact that Reagan might fail so badly that he will become another ghost, like Herbert Hoover, to be invoked as an example of capitalism’s failure for another fifty years.
Observe Reagan’s futile attempts to arouse the country by some sort of inspirational appeal. He is right in thinking that the country needs an inspirational element. But he will not find it in the God-Family-Tradition swamp.
If you know any conservative Republican Ayn Rand fans, you should forward this post to them, just to annoy ‘em.
Below, William F. Buckley on Ayn Rand: