Mitt "Ayn Rand" Romney

Jamelle has already blogged about the devastating video of Mitt Romney speaking to a fundraising event that Mother Jones’s invaluable David Corn posted today. For those of you who may have missed it, here’s a partial text of what Mitt said in answer to a question about Obama voters:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax. […]

[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

The only thing I’d add to Jamelle’s observations is that the quote marks the formal capture, as it were, of the Republican Party by Ayn-Rand Thought—that the world consists of makers and takers and that the true purpose of government should be to let the makers make and restrict if not outright eliminate the takers’ take. Add to this Romney’s assumption that Obama’s voters come overwhelmingly from the taker forces while his own supporters are the makers. It’s hard to understand how Obama has been able to raise so much money for his campaign if that assumption is correct, but it’s correspondingly easier to understand what underpins the Republicans’ attitude toward Medicaid and Medicare, in case there was any mystery about it.

To be sure, Romney was talking to his funders when he said this, and doubtless crafting his remarks to encourage them to pony up even more to his campaign. Even allowing for that, however, his comments should cause us to rethink the idea that Grover Norquist’s is the dominant presence in today’s GOP. Keynes famously observed that behind most politicians’s ideas, whether they know it or (more commonly) not, are the ideas of some dead economist. What’s behind the governing doctrine in today’s Republican Party are the ideas of some dead novelist and cult leader who never professed to be guided by empiricism. Today’s Republicans are a faith-based party, but not as the term is commonly understood. Their faith is Randian libertarianism—a belief that may sustain a novel, but has never yet sustained a country.

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