COLUMN: Where is the liberal Ayn Rand? What's your answer?
AYN RAND AT A TEAPARTY PROTEST: One Tea Party protester takes a photo of another protester, obscuring his face with pixels, displaying a slogan that fans of Ayn Rand recognize as rejecting the American status quo.
Dr. Wayne Baker welcomes back popular guest columnist Terry Gallagher.
Mitt Romney’s selection of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate has drawn attention to, of all things, Ryan’s literary tastes. In a New Yorker profile earlier this month, Ryan describes how, when he was a high-school student searching for some sense of meaning following his father’s premature death, the novels of Ayn Rand had a profound impact on him.
“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 said in a 2005 speech.
Rand’s books, and her philosophy called Objectivism, have influenced generations of American conservatives and libertarians, and are required reading for Ryan’s staff and interns.
But Rand’s books, especially The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged (which features the mysterious rebel John Galt from the book’s first sentence), are just part of the canon for conservatives. Other writers have had a similar impact and lasting influence among Republicans and their supporters, including economists Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and Milton Friedman. Barry Goldwater’s "Conscience of a Conservative," first published in 1960, is available in a Kindle edition.
So what’s a liberal to do? Yale history Prof. Beverly Gage asked “Why isn’t there a liberal Ayn Rand?” in a recent commentary on Slate. “What conservatives have developed is what the left used to describe as a ‘movement culture’: a shared set of ideas and texts that bind activists together in common cause,” Gage wrote.
How do you respond to Gage's challenge?
What's a liberal to read?
What's on your list?
Originally published on OurValues.org.