Ryan is face of new Republicanism
Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate tells us considerably more than Romney’s need to reach out to, connect with, or throw a bone—red meat—to his Tea Party wing.
John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin likewise told us much about that segment of what was then the Republican Party. In her case, it was the “mama grizzly” persona that caused those who would become Tea Party regulars to embrace her. Guns, first in context of hunting then of the Second Amendment, symbolized strength and power. Through them, Palin projected the image of the fierce, strong, independent woman, a 21st-century Annie Oakley.
Ryan is different. While he might hunt and believe in Second Amendment arguments, his domain is more wonkish: finance, money, taxes—brainiac stuff.
While Palin preferred not to be seen as a genteel lady to be powdered and waited upon by courtiers, Ryan projects a suave, sophisticated, intellectual demeanor.
Those images obscure us from understanding who the two essentially are, but in turn they give us a clearer portrait of their swooning adulators within what is now the Republican/Tea Party.
The stereotypical view of the RTP as “daddy party” and the Democratic Party as the “mommy party” that created the “nanny state” are certainly over-simplifications. Still, they tell us of the types of people who tend to associate with either, which too often gets pinned to the ongoing argument about the role of government in context of our corporate society.
The message from the RTP is we need to tough it out, not to expect help from Washington. Capitalism is a tough game replete with social strata/classes and winners and losers.
In capitalism there is this axiom of wealth: Only one percent of a given population is entitled and only one percent of the top one percent is truly beyond the realm of human affairs.
In like manner, “shared prosperity” is anathema to the dogma of unfettered capitalism and absolutely inconsistent with Randian economic “theory.” (Theory is in quotation marks in that Randian economics belongs in the realm of myth and not in rigorous, serious debate.)
While communism, from which she fled, was predicated on a one-class society, the new capitalism Ayn Rand gives voice to through her literary works is very much based on a multi-tiered society. The ultimate form of economic success is cornering the market much like Rainman counting cards in Vegas. It’s stuff venture/vulture capitalists drool over.
Randian economics is also predicated on separating the haves from the have-nots/the riff-raff, the ones who create wealth from the rest of us who sponge off them.
In the Randian society Ryan and Romney idolize, separateness is fundamental: We’re not all in this together. Gated communities, which do not require actual gates to be separate and unequal, perform their tasks literally and symbolically: They keep the masses out and simultaneously denizens locked in, prisoners of their own world of abundance.
Compassion, altruism, and the common good are passé, sentimental signs of weakness at a time when strength is needed. It is the Mad Max, brilliantly portrayed by Hollywood’s darling of the right Mel Gibson, society where the strong must stand against the weak or face extinction.
Paul Ryan personifies that mentality now that Palin is yesterday’s news. It’s become the role of the backup or hit woman/man on the RTP ticket.
Ryan is the high school student who became enamored with Ayn Rand and never matured beyond his SAT/ACT days. Though charming and a gifted orator, he’s a seller of snake oil in the guise of economic freedom.
If nothing else, Paul Ryan, empowered by Romney, is the face of Republicanism, an idea rather than a political party. Republicanism is Social Darwinism which holds that the fittest not only survive but will ultimately triumph. Newt Gingrich rightly labels it “rightwing social engineering.”
Unless one believes Jesus died on the cross to make Donald Trump or anyone else wealthy, the new Republicanism, grounded in atheistic Randianism, message cannot, therefore, be Christian.
Jesus’ final act was the ultimate expression of altruism, the sacrificing of his life in order to save others. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
Or, I might add, a few coins to fund school lunches for hungry kids so they can learn.