Paul Ryan And The Libertarian Con

Though maybe (maybe) #NotAllLibertarians. When it comes to the various forms of batshitloonitarianism, many are familiar with the theocratic wing of the Republican Party, those who believe a Well Regulated Vagina is the best security of a free state. People are also aware of the corporate wing of the party that believes we are not free unless corporations have the untrammeled right to pipe toxic waste through your living room. But what often flies under the radar is how deep the infestation of Ayn Rand-flavor libertarianism–which is to say, the dominant form of libertarianism–is within the party. For instance, House Speaker and flimflam artist Paul Ryan (boldface mine):

Paul Ryan is a radical. He made this clearer before Obama, when he was solidly on the right flank of a Bush-era Republican Party already in the process of abandoning any claims to moderation (Bush’s Social Security privatization proposal did not go far enough for Ryan). But the media’s longstanding and economically illiterate habit of treating conservative deficit hysteria with unthinking credulity allowed Ryan (who, like his counterparts on the left, knows that deficits don’t matter, except as political cudgels) to rebrand himself as a Fiscal Hawk. His long-term, highly ideological project—to destroy America’s already meager social insurance programs and radically redistribute wealth upward—became about making Serious Choices to address the crisis of debt. And then, the plaudits began rolling in

It could be argued that he did about as much damage to Mitt Romney’s presidential bid as Sarah Palin did to John McCain’s, and that both of them left office as deeply divisive figures supported only by a passionate fringe, though only one of them is actually talked about that way, because only one of them boasts Mike Allen [of Politico] as a member of that fringe.

No media ecosystem with a systemic liberal bias would’ve ever allowed an Ayn Rand acolyte offering warmed-over Jack Kempism to be treated as a serious person with important ideas. If rank-and-file members of the media actually evinced any understanding of ideology and political economy, Ryan simply couldn’t have gotten away with it. Imagine an avowed Marxist-Leninist ascending to the speakership as a Democrat, and a “Meet the Press” panel debating her New Economic Policy as, well, maybe a bit of a political lift, but something Republicans are really going to have to take seriously.

Ryan’s only truly canny move was that he didn’t personally engage in the culture wars (not that he rejected them—like all “mainstream” Republicans he knows that the popular culture warriors are necessary to get the unpopular supply-siders elected), making it easier for the press to treat him as a responsible alternative to Those Republicans. Ryan grasped, consciously or not, that the “liberalism” of the mainstream media is just a reflection of the geographical and professional milieu in which elite journalism is produced, and it features no actual political principles beyond cosmopolitanism.

It’s not just Ryan: many Republicans embrace this radical rightwing ideology (not to mention former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan who literally was an acolyte of Ayn Rand). The rot–and the moral decrepitude–run deep.

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