At first, I precociously believed it was the best tactic to remain politically aloof in my writing, making at most oblique references to my own affiliations for fear of alienating and losing half of my already small audience. However, I’ll now have to adjust that policy. Why? Mitt Romney has made it personal.
How so, you ask? By choosing Paul Ryan as his running-mate. This is where it becomes personal. With Paul Ryan, we have a fellow who’s not only politically dangerous, but who is also a man with inexcusably terrible taste in literature. Again and again, the man has praised Ayn Rand–the crazed, heartless and soulless writer Ayn Rand! She is the only person I can think of who has left a worse imprint on the world of literature than L. Ron Hubbard (a pulp writer whose pen gave the world scientology, which is essentially an insult against science and fiction both).
If Ayn Rand’s name doesn’t ring a bell, then count yourself lucky. In the 50s, she became one of the all-time best-selling fiction writers when she emigrated to America and wrote The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, both of which were essentially pagan odes to the bloody gods of unchecked capitalism. In her novels, the world is plainly demarcated between the brash, clever social climbers and the shifty, evil, manipulative “moochers,” (by the way, every time you hear a person use the term moocher, slap them).
The heroes of Rand novels are innovators, self-made men and women who climb to the top on their own and have long, boring conversations about how important they are. The villains are people who need welfare, or food stamps, or health coverage. Does it come as a surprise then that Paul Ryan wants to slash medicare?
Plus, Ayn Rand is a bloody awful writer. Her biggest crime in life was against prose itself. True, there’s plenty of other awful writers out there, but I’d say many are essentially harmless in comparison. Tom Clancy might not know how to craft a sentence, but at least The Hunt For Red October was exciting, which is something Ayn Rand doesn’t have going for her (for proof of that, try watching the film adaptation of Atlas Shrugged. If you can’t watch it, don’t fret–no one can.)
When it comes to literature at least, Barack Obama has a definite edge. According to a news story from long ago, Obama stepped into a small book store and came out carrying books by Jonathan Franzen and Harper Lee. Sure, I would rather he exit with books by Christopher Hitchens and Joseph Heller, but hey, nobody’s perfect. Franzen and Lee are worlds better than having Ayn Rand on your nightstand (talk about a cruel bedfellow!).
So I guess I have to say the gloves are off. While I’m too poor to donate much of anything to Obama-Biden campaign, I can at least do my part in the war against the Randian threat, even if it is just snickering from the trenches.
For more by me, check out my novel A Rapturous Occasion.
What’s your opinion of the Romney-Ryan campaign?