In a December 13, 2016, Washington Post article, speaking of Donald Trump’s decision to nominate ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson to be secretary of state, writer James Hohman told us:
Tillerson and Trump had no previous relationship, but the Texas oilman and the New York developer hit it off when they met face to face. One of the things that they have in common is their shared affection for the works of Ayn Rand, the libertarian heroine who celebrated laissez-faire capitalism.
We learn further, on the one hand, that
The president-elect said this spring that he’s a fan of Rand and identifies with Howard Roark, the main character in “The Fountainhead.” Roark, played by Gary Cooper in the film adaptation, is an architect who dynamites a housing project he designed because the builders did not precisely follow his blueprints. “It relates to business, beauty, life and inner emotions. That book relates to … everything,” Trump told Kirsten Powers for a piece in USA Today.
and, on the other, that
Tillerson prefers “Atlas Shrugged,” Rand’s novel about John Galt secretly organizing a strike of the creative class to hasten the collapse of the bureaucratic society. The CEO listed it as his favorite book in a 2008 feature for Scouting Magazine, according to biographer Steve Coll.
Hohman continues, offering a list of others in the Trumpian inner-circle and thinking himself able to offer the summary judgment that:
Trump is turning not just to billionaires but Randians to fill the cabinet.
There is room, however, to think that the apparent devotion of members of the Trumpian inner-circle to the Randian philosophy will lead to conflict within Republican conservative circles. For one thing, there is the matter of Rand’s atheism. Hohman notes and opines that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan “also used to be an outspoken booster of Rand, but he distanced himself in order to advance his political ambitions.”
Hohman goes on to tell us, first, that
In a 2005 speech, Ryan said that Rand was required reading for his office staff and interns. “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,” he told a group called the Atlas Society, according to a New Yorker profile by Ryan Lizza.
and then that
By 2012, looking beyond his safely-red House district to the national stage, the Wisconsin congressman claimed that the idea he was inspired by Rand is “an urban legend.” “I reject her philosophy,” Ryan told National Review. “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…Don’t give me Ayn Rand!”
I am not in any position to comment on Ryan’s understanding of the epistemology of Thomas Aquinas. But I do think it evident that Rand’s atheism has to give pause to the Christian conservatives so central to the Republican Party, like Ryan (and, no small by the way, Vice President to be Mike Pence).
There is a second matter about which the apparent devotion of members of the Trumpian inner-circle to the Randian philosophy may well find themselves to be in conflict with Republican conservative circles, that of Rand’s “pro-choice” stance. Hohman tells us that
In 2014, when no one anticipated that Trump would actually go through with running for president, John Oliver’s HBO [comedy] show [, Last Week Tonight,] produced a four-minute segment making fun of Rand’s enduring appeal to so many conservatives and rich people. After sound bites of Rand ripping into Ronald Reagan and explaining why she supports abortion rights, the narrator asks: “Why would conservatives hold up as their idol someone who says things like that? Especially when there are so many other advocates for selfishness they could choose, like Donald Trump…”
In that four-minute segment, after we hear the voice-over speaker saying (c. 2:15 ff.) that
However, Ayn Rand is an unlikely hero for conservatives, because she was also pro-choice.
we see and hear Rand herself saying that
A man who claims to defend rights and objects to the right to have abortions? That’s no defender of rights.
A more explicit statement of her pro-choice position can be found in her “Of Living Death” (http://en.liberpedia.org/Of_Living_Death), a reply to Pope Paul VI’s papal encyclical, Humanae Vitae (http://w2.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_25071968_humanae-vitae.html).
An embryo has no rights. Rights do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being. A child cannot acquire any rights until it is born. The living take precedence over the not yet living (or the unborn).
Abortion is a moral right—which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be considered. Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to her what disposition she is to make of the functions of her own body? The Catholic church is responsible for this country’s disgracefully barbarian anti-abortion laws, which should be repealed and abolished.
As the kids say, “Just sayin.”
Until next time.