The GOP has been the party of cruelty for decades. In Trump, it’s found its champion.
If you have any doubts that the phenomenon of Donald Trump was a long time a’coming, you have only to read a piece that Gore Vidal wrote for Esquire magazine in July 1961, when the conservative movement was just beginning and even Barry Goldwater was hardly a glint in Republicans’ eyes.
Vidal’s target was Paul Ryan’s idol, and the idol of so many modern conservatives: the trash novelist and crackpot philosopher Ayn Rand, whom Vidal quotes thusly:
“It was the morality of altruism that undercut America and is now destroying her. Capitalism and altruism are incompatible; they are philosophical opposites; they cannot co-exist in the same man or in the same society. Today, the conflict has reached its ultimate climax; the choice is clear-cut: either a new morality of rational self-interest, with its consequence of freedom… or the primordial morality of altruism with its consequences of slavery, etc.
To love money is to know and love the fact that money is the creation of the best power within you, and your passkey to trade your effort for the effort of the best among men.
The creed of sacrifice is a morality for the immoral…”
In most quarters, in 1961, this stuff would have been regarded as nearly sociopathic nonsense, but, as Vidal noted, Rand was already gaining adherents: “She has a great attraction for simple people who are puzzled by organized society, who object to paying taxes, who hate the ‘welfare state,’ who feel guilt at the thought of the suffering of others but who would like to harden their hearts.”
How one obscure Russian novel launched two of the 20th century’s most destructive ideas. – Adam Weiner.
When Alan Greenspan began his political career in 1974, he asked two people to accompany him to his Oval Office swearing-in ceremony as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers: his mother, Rose Goldsmith, and his guru, Ayn Rand.
At the time of his appointment years later as Federal Reserve chair until his retirement in 2006, Greenspan would implement Rand’s ideology of “objectivism” as monetary policy: Counting on market players to self-regulate in the pursuit of their selfish interests, he deregulated the financial industry and scoffed in the late 1990s when warned of the systemic risks posed by the unregulated derivatives market. Soon enough, these “financial weapons of mass destruction,” as Warren Buffet once called them, would explode, destroying the plans and lives of countless Americans in the Great Recession. A congressional inquiry placed the blame for the 2008 financial crisis squarely at Greenspan’s feet, and, under questioning by members of the House, Greenspan admitted that there must have been “a flaw” in his Randian worldview.
A flaw, yes, but where did it really come from?