Now that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) has renounced Ayn Rand in the pages of National Review (a magazine that has long held the Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged author in total contempt), it's time to figure out what other pols bought into Rand's core idea that capitalism is a moral system because it allows the individual to express oneself most fully.
Politico rounds up seven (count 'em!), including such horrifying haters of humanity as Ronald Reagan, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Justice Clarence Thomas, and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (R-N.M.), who is running for the Libertarian Party nomination for president:
“Then, in summer 2008, Johnson started seeing Kate Prusack, a passionate cyclist and Santa Fe Realtor. Early in their courtship, Johnson gave her a copy of Ayn Rand’s free-market manifesto 'Atlas Shrugged.' ‘If you want to understand me, read this,’ he said.”
Johnson and Prusack are now engaged. (The above quote is from a great Outside mag profile of Johnson.)
Politico missed at least one other Randroid in Congress: Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.), who told Reason in 2007
“Atlas Shrugged is the book I give to our interns after they spend a summer here, working for free. I consider it to be the authoritative work on the power of the individual.”
As far as I know, Campbell is not engaged to any of his interns.
Hat tip on the Politico piece: Alan Vanneman.
As longtime readers of this site and of the print magazine know, I'm not the world's biggest Rand fan, though I think she (along with Jack Kerouac) remains the most influential American novelist of the 1950s and possibly the entire post-war era. Folks who dismiss her because they say she wrote bad sentences or don't share her views on the hippies she helped catalyze are missing the point, I think. Rand was one of the great anti-conformist voices of the past 70 years and the fact that she still moves hundreds of thousands of books, movies, and spin-off material is nothing less than incredible. Sneer at her if you must (typically, it seems, because you went through an adolescent Rand phase that you are now ashamed of), but if you can't understand why she resonates, you're not really in touch with the country you live in.
Anyhoo, here's Paul Ryan popping up in our 2009 video Rand-O-Rama: The Long Shelf Life of Ayn Rand's Legacy.