In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Barack Obama talked about Paul Ryan’s interest in Ayn Rand novels:
Have you ever read Ayn Rand?
What do you think Paul Ryan’s obsession with her work would mean if he were vice president?
Well, you’d have to ask Paul Ryan what that means to him. Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we’d pick up. Then, as we get older, we realize that a world in which we’re only thinking about ourselves and not thinking about anybody else, in which we’re considering the entire project of developing ourselves as more important than our relationships to other people and making sure that everybody else has opportunity – that that’s a pretty narrow vision. It’s not one that, I think, describes what’s best in America. Unfortunately, it does seem as if sometimes that vision of a “you’re on your own” society has consumed a big chunk of the Republican Party.
In Bullish: Actually, We’re All Kind of the 1% (And How Not to be a Jerkface About It), Jen talked about the hazards of reading too much Ayn Rand as a teenager:
Sure, if you can ignore badly-written dialogue and hilariously one-dimensional characters (did you know that all capitalists have firm, noble countenances, and all collectivists have soft, jiggly jowls?), a little Ayn Rand can make you feel motivated. I WILL RUN THAT GODDAMN RAILROAD, you might say to yourself. After reading a little too much Rand as a teenager, I turned into a raging asshole and claimed to my mother that no one with less than $100,000 in the bank should have children. Nice.
The problem with Ayn Rand’s particular breed of politics – and by extension, the politics of Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney – is that they conveniently forget some of the amenities we all enjoy when we don’t behave as though everyone is on their own. Roads, education, tap water – these are just a few of the really cool things that everyone should have, regardless of money or status or jowls.