MCDOWELL CREEK, Kan. - I have been puzzled by the new Republican Party -- not the party of my father or grandfather, not the party of excellent local public servants such as Tom Moxley, Ben Bennett, Roger Reitz, Jeff Longbine, Rebecca Bossemeyer, or Florence Whitebread -- but the extreme right-wing party of Paul Ryan, Sam Brownback, and many members of the Tea Party. Their views seem illogical. After unregulated financial dealings brought down our economy in 2008, why make a fetish of the free market? Why talk as if everything government does is bad, despite obvious counter-examples (clean water, enforceable contracts) ? And why paste labels on Americans of modest means, when they clearly don't deserve it? Why call them the "47%" who "will never take responsibility or care for their lives," as Romney did at a private fundraiser, or the "30%" who are "Takers, not Makers," as Ryan did before a conservative group?
In search of a better understanding, I decided to learn more about the philosophy behind this trend. For years Paul Ryan has cited Ayn Rand as the thinker that inspired him to get into politics; he asks his staff to read her works. So off to the library I went and came home with a copy of The Fountainhead. I read all 700 pages of it. And lo and behold, there it was, in this novel written in the 1930s and published in 1943, a philosophical justification for the apparently counter-intuitive positions of today's right wing.