Practically the day before Mitt Romney announced Paul Ryan as his choice for a running mate, we were reading about Laura Ingraham’s “tough riff” on the theme “Romney is losing. This had mainly to do with adverse reaction to his show of contempt for the Chick-fil-A upsurge by Americans supporting Dan Cathy’s pro-marriage stance; and his statement pressuring the BSA to rescind its ban on homosexuality in scouting (Romney’s move appears to have gotten Obama to follow suit, proving again that Romney leads Obama in the movement to coerce conscience on moral issues.)
Now of course we’re supposed to believe that the choice of Paul Ryan has quelled the storm. The Romney gifted claque of elitist faction pro-life cheerleaders (with Massachusetts’ Right-to-Life leading the way) has dutifully raised a chorus of praise.
To be sure, there are a number of flies in the ointment Ryan brings to the wounds opened by Romney’s self-revealing actions. (We’ll leave aside the simple fact that, except for its cynically contrived political effect, the VP choice is ordinarily a thoroughly meaningless farce.) What’s more important is that Paul Ryan’s pro-life stance is quite literally a Pharisaical pose, in which the outward appearance of some of his actions belies his contempt for the principle that gives political life to the pro-life cause.
The animating political premise of the pro-life cause is, quite simply, the principle of right articulated in the organic law of the United States, (specifically, of course, the Declaration of Independence) that “all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Deny the existence and/or authority of the Creator and you vitiate any argument based on a claim of unalienable human right.
With respect to Paul Ryan, the telltale sign of a problem in this regard is his well known admiration for Ayn Rand. (There are some reports that he is seriously trying to deny any such admiration, but the record is as clear as Mitt Romney’s decision to sign off on government funded $50 co-pay abortions in Massachusetts.) Ayn Rand was not just a God denier. She saw faith in God as positively evil.
In the not at all distant past Ryan, like other supposedly conservative libertarians, has expressed the view that exposure to Ayn Rand’s thinking was an indispensable preparation for defending freedom in politics, government and economic life. But in the understanding on which America is founded, the right freedom involves is an endowment from God as Creator. No God, no right; no right, no freedom. Since Rand denies this premise of liberty, her thinking isn’t liable to be of much help when it is attacked.
In our day it is under more determined attack that at any other time in our history. The promotion of so-called “abortion rights”, and so-called “homosexual marriage rights” are at the cutting age of the assault. Common sense dictates that the ongoing destruction of a society’s foundations be given top priority, especially when it is already causing the collapse of its vital parts.
But Paul Ryan takes the position that a moratorium should be declared on dealing with the moral issues involved in the destruction of America’s foundations. He has professed an inability to understand why the marriage issue should take up so much time in our politics.
He repeats the mantra now common among the elitist faction’s GOP leadership- the one that cries “Money and jobs first, money and jobs now, money and jobs above all else”.
Ryan professes to see individual economic liberty as the root of America’s strength and prosperity. The rapid erosion of that liberty has taken place almost entirely on moral grounds. The appeals to compassion and our moral responsibility to care for the poor, the elderly, the disabled, the victims of economic circumstance, etc. have been the powerful persuaders moving the American people to accept the gradual construction of a socialist state.
Ayn Rand simply denied the validity of appeals to compassion or the moral responsibility to care for others. Because of this denial she provides no insight into the ways and means to respond to the push toward socialism based upon them.
Since Paul Ryan derives his understanding of America’s situation from Rand’s world view, he is unequipped to counter the effects of the moral appeals that have driven America over the socialist cliff. Therefore he wishes to postpone dealing seriously with the issues that most exemplify the flawed moral understanding that enables this connection between America’s moral heart and the leftist push toward socialism. People usually want to postpone dealing with things that highlight their incapacities.
At the heart of the abortion and marriage issue is the conviction (as Ayn Rand would say, eschewing the word faith) that the substance of moral right is determined exclusively by human will, acting in light of selfish material passions and ambitions. This accords with the notion that scientific materialism is the rubric of substance in the moral as in the physical realm. Government power reflects the resultant of human willing at any given moment in history. Therefore those who control government have without limit the power to define the substance of human right- with respect to abortion, marriage, the basis and use of property, etc.
People like Paul Ryan often talk of their commitment to the principle of “limited government.” According to America’s organic law, however, this principle has its root in another more fundamental one, which requires that the actions of government respect and secure the unalienable, rights of individuals, which have their basis in an endowment by God, whose transcendent will supersedes and ought to govern merely human willing.
In Ayn Rand’s world view, as there is no place for God there is no place for the concept of unalienable God-endowed right that, on moral grounds, requires limiting the use of government power in order to respect right. People will say that Ryan uses the words of the Declaration; that he therefore accepts its understanding of the world, not Ayn Rand’s.
But we ought to learn discernment from the teacher who was wiser in the ways of the world than Ayn Rand or any merely human “philosopher”. Christ warned against those who, in word and overall ritual example, scrupulously and loudly declare their adherence to truth, put some material results above the true principle that alone establishes and proves the worth of those results.
In this respect America’s founding generation set the right example. They did not wait to see the material results of the British King’s denial of their right of self-government. They rebelled against his acts because such acts violated the true principle of right. They counted the security of that principle worth the risk to fortune and even life itself.
Paul Ryan’s disordered priorities reflect the hard truth about the GOP leadership he represents. For all their Pharisaical posturing they have, like their supposed opponents, abandoned America’s founding premise of God-endowed right. They say they plan to deal with it later, by which time they know full well that (with their help) it will be too late. That sounds rather like what they are doing now instead of competently justifying the heartfelt moral concerns of the grassroots conservatives whose votes they cynically exploit.