Worshipping at the Altar of Ayn Rand’s Undeserving Elite (Ryan Is No Kemp)

I have something in common with Republican vice presidential nominee Congressman Paul Ryan: We were both friends with the late Congressman Jack Kemp. Today, some Republicans are comparing Paul Ryan to Kemp. That is a slur on Kemp.

As a recent, extensive portrait of Ryan in the New York Times notes, such comparisons are far from accurate:

Over the years, Mr. Ryan’s emphasis shifted. Mr. Kemp was not nearly as concerned with cutting government programs as Mr. Ryan is today. They agreed on [low] taxes, but their views on spending and the role of government were different.
Kemp was Ryan’s mentor when Ryan was in his 20s, and they remained close. But in the substantial differences between Kemp and Ryan one can read another story: the slide of the Republican Party into extremism.

Jack will be remembered as a compassionate mainstream Republican. Ryan has become a living caricature of the Tea Party. Jack became an evangelical Christian who had been raised in the Christian Science Church. And that church was hardly devoted to selfishness. Mary Baker Eddy taught that a life of service should include work benefiting the community and an overarching plan for the betterment of all humanity. Ryan was raised a Roman Catholic but today worships at the altar of the goddess of the undeserving self-loving elite — Ayn Rand — and calls her his “single most influential thinker.”

From the 1970s to the early 1990s, I was a regular visitor to the Kemps’ home, as were my parents, Francis and Edith Schaeffer. This had a lot to do with the “Schaeffer Group” that met in their house to study my parents’ evangelical books. I also used to meet Jack on the road when he dropped by events at which Dad or I were speaking and vice versa.

We fell out of touch after I fled the Republican Party but my memories of Jack are fond. And Jack was the sort of man who kept me on his family’s Christmas card list no matter that the likes of Rush Limbaugh were calling me a traitor.

My last phone conversation with Jack was in 2000, ironically when Jack argued (loudly) with me over my support for John McCain in his presidential primary bid battle with George W. Bush. Jack called McCain a “war monger” and called Bush a “peacemaker.” Jack was rebuking me because I’d done a number of radio interviews at McCain’s campaign manager Mark Salter’s request, supporting McCain and blasting Bush. I was rooting for McCain because in his pre-Palin/Tea Party sellout McCain was correctly calling people like Falwell “agents of intolerance.”

By then (though he worked with the religious right closely earlier) Jack agreed with McCain on his harsh assessment of the religious right. There was no love lost between Jack and likes of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson et al though they did all use each other handily. Back in the early 1990s when I had just started writing about why I’d left the religious right, Jack called to commend me and said “the religious right will destroy the Republican Party.”

I never got the chance to ask Jack what he thought about his “peacemaker” taking us to war in Iraq for no reason. But it’s instructive that the last time I talked to Jack he was to my “left” (so to speak) over the issues of war and peace. Given that I then had a son in the Marine Corps I was pretty “hawkish” in those days. (I’ll bet Jack would have some choice words today for Romney more or less promising to go to war with Iran on Day One of his presidency.)

Jack and I were once close enough that in 1984 he helped me edit a book of pro-capitalist essays aimed at the evangelical public called Is Capitalism Christian? (Crossway Books, 1985). The 20 or so contributors included Emmett Tyrell (editor of the American Spectator), Warren Brookes (columnist for the Boston Herald), Michael Novak (author of The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism) and Paul Johnson (author of Modern Times).

Jack not only provided many personal introductions to these neoconservative leaders but he also provided this jacket copy endorsement: “I can think of only one thing better than reading Frank Schaeffer on Christianity and capitalism — that’s Frank Schaeffer bringing together most of the greatest thinkers of our time on the subject. Is Capitalism Christian? is an outstanding expression of the Judeo-Christian approach to economics.”

Jack shared Ryan’s disdain for taxes. But Jack’s “supply side” economic ideas were all about cutting taxes in a way that he sincerely believed would bring in more revenue to the Treasury (according to the low tax “Chicago school” theories) and thus help everyone — including the poor — by helping the federal government remain strong. Jack was not trying to make the super-rich even richer at the expense of the poor.

Jack was no right wing ideologue. He had a complex, sometimes contradictory, set of ideas. He was a champion for more immigration, the center of the American experience as he described it. So Jack argued for citizenship for immigrants here illegally. And he never would have allowed the good faith and credit of the US to languish worldwide to score points against a Democratic president. Ryan did this very thing by being the Tea Party’s front man behind the Republicans’ battles with President Obama, including last year’s congressional budget fiasco. That Ryan-driven fiasco brought the nation to the brink of default. And Ryan was also the politician who killed the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson deficit-reduction proposal for purely political reasons.

While it was an honor to know Jack, I’m no longer proud of the book I worked on with him or my other gung-ho efforts to introduce evangelicals to neoconservative ideology. I’ve watched all of Jack’s pet economic theories (which I imbibed from Jack and others) tested and trounced by a reality far too intricate for any one ideology to correctly describe let alone “fix.”

But even back when I was spreading the “gospel” of Jack’s supply side ideas I was Christian first and a neoconservative/Religious Right ideologue second. So, there was one line I wouldn’t cross: endorsing Ayn Rand.

Ayn Rand said: “If any civilization is to survive, it is the morality of altruism that men have to reject.” Contrast that with the words of Jesus: “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

Jack was a fan of Rand in his younger days. But over the years and with some help from my father, he struggled to balance his one-time youthful fondness for Rand’s writings with his growing commitment to an evangelical Christian worldview. I recall Dad challenging Jack about his residual fondness for Rand. Dad — hardly a lefty and called one of the “fathers of the Religious Right” — described Rand as an “atheist extremist who hated the poor and despised Jesus.”

Nevertheless, Rand’s anti-tax ideas remained part of Jack’s DNA. Jack convinced the Reagan administration to lower income taxes drastically as a magical Randian “solution” to all that ailed America. The long term results speak for themselves: Our degraded infrastructure, the near bankruptcy of countless municipal governments and the super-rich getting richer as the middle class slides to lower middle class status. This is not the outcome for which Jack worked.

Even so, Jack’s tax-cutting ideas were mild compared to Ryan’s pro-billionaire “budget.” And Kemp never launched a slash and burn project that provided tax cuts for the rich while heaping tax burdens onto middle class families. Nor did he advocate eliminating the programs that keep the poor just this side of abject despair.

Mitt Romney has called Ryan’s plan “an excellent piece of work.” Who bears the burden of “excellent” plan? Jesus called them “the least of these.”

Ryan’s quotes about his passionate love of Rand’s ideas run throughout his entire career… until April 2012, that is. With his political star rising nationally via his Religious Right/Tea Party following, he has tried to reinvent himself for a national religious audience, by hastily delinking himself from Rand. “I reject her philosophy,” Ryan said when repeatedly pressed. “It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my [Roman Catholic] worldview.”

Ryan was trying to answer several leading evangelical critics — including the late Chuck Colson not to mention his own bishops, who blasted his budget as un-Christian. Colson even made a video attacking Ayn Rand, warning that her “patently anti-Christian ideas seem to be gaining steam.”

Colson believed Rand’s “followers” (i.e., Ryan et al) were undermining the Gospel and said: “It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that her worldview, called Objectivism, which rejects love of God, has even less regard for love of neighbor. Jennifer Rubin, who wrote the definitive biography of Rand, says that ‘whereas traditional conservatism emphasized duties, responsibilities, and social interconnectedness, at the core’ of Rand’s ideology ‘was a rejection of moral obligations to others.’”

Ryan knows that believing Christians can’t vote for him in good conscience unless he distances himself from Rand. Colson called those like Ryan following rand to account for “undermining the gospel.” But actions speak louder than words. Ryan’s budget would create a reality worthy of Rand’s most selfish libertarian fantasies. The poor will literally be ground under the heels of the rich like some Old Testament prophecy denouncing the wealthy come to life.

As for Romney, nothing could be farther from Rand’s ideas than the teachings of the Mormon Church on love of neighbor. The fact Romney nominated a committed Randian ideologue is as shocking as it was that McCain nominated Sarah Palin. Both men sold out to the “agents of intolerance.” In McCain’s case the sellout was to the Religious Right, in Romney’s case he sold out to both the Religious Right and to the Rand-following Tea Party.

The depth of the Romney sellout of his Mormon heritage is illustrated by any visit to Salt Lake City. There the visitor will find everything from church-financed food banks to employment offices extending an altruistic hand to the needy. Yet Romney has elevated Ryan, one who has proved with his budget that — recent, expedient disclaimers aside — he slavishly still follow his teacher who said, “suffering is not a claim check, and its relief is not the goal of existence — man is not a sacrificial animal on anyone’s altar nor for anyone’s cause” (The Objectivist, Sept. 1969, 13).

“Suffering is not a claim check”… on our obligation to love others? Tell that to the Good Samaritan or rather to Jesus who said that alleviating suffering is not only a claim check but the only ticket to redemption.

With Romney nominating the author of the most extreme Randian attack on the poor ever introduced in Congress, the Republican Party has just defined itself as the utilitarian party of greed and individualism run amok. The once proud party of Jack Kemp now stands for creating a libertarian country where no one is their brother’s keeper-unless you count the solicitous care the Koch brothers show for one another’s ever-expanding financial wellbeing.

In the context of a moralistic campaign wherein the Republicans have made such a point of their “Christian” values — and even accused President Obama of being “anti-religion” — maybe it’s fair to ask voters a question cast in the exclusionary terminology of today’s religious right: Can you be a real Christian or even a good American, if you vote for leaders whose plan for the poor is based on a blatant denial of Jesus’s teaching?

Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back and his forthcoming novel Baptism By Sand.

About Frank Schaeffer

Frank Schaeffer is an American author, film director, screenwriter and public speaker. He is the son of the late theologian and author Francis Schaeffer. He became a Hollywood film director and author, writing several internationally acclaimed novels including And God Said, "Billy!" as well as the Calvin Becker Trilogy depicting life in a fundamentalist mission home-- Portofino, Zermatt, and Saving Grandma.

  • Mari

    Well said. The USCCB has condemned the Ryan Budget as un-Christlike. The Catholic Sisters have done the same. Ryan’s Budget goes against Catholic Social Teachings.

    Jesus spoke up for the poor. Even in the Old Testament, God speaks up and asks us to protect and take care of the poor.

    No thanks, I this cradle Catholic will vote for Pres. Obama.

    • Tom

      The USCCB has not condemned the Ryan Budget as un-Christlike. His own Bishop has written about how Ryan is within the bounds of the Church with his budget. There is plenty of room for disagreement on how to best serve the poor and Ryan is not advocating kicking them to the curb. However, there is not the same room choosing sides over the issue of Life. That the USCCB and the whole church has made clear.

  • http://recessappointment.com Joe Patrice

    As an outside observer who did not know Kemp personally, I had a gut feeling that a Kemp-Ryan parallel was ridiculous. I even wrote a long post on my blog to that effect yesterday (though, since I knew far less about Kemp’s religious background, I focused on the role that his personal experience working closely with African-Americans of often humble backgrounds in the early days of AFL football probably played in his worldview) and now that I read your article I have that special sense of pride that comes from having a personal idea validated by someone more “in the know.” Great article!

  • Chris Fanning

    I had trouble praying, reading the Bible, and going to church while simultaneously trying to justify a scorn for the destitute. Christians are called to love all people and that was not the center of discourse in my circles. I cannot align myself with such hateful practices. I realized it was an Orwellian doublethink that I relied upon to consider myself conservative and Christian. They have become mutually exclusive.

  • http://sonomawineshop.com Bryan

    There is nothing like a former smoker to tell you about the dangers of cigarettes.

  • http://www.dizerega.com Gus diZerega

    As another Patheos contributor, albeit from the Neopagan perspective, but also with a long involvement with conservative and libertarian people and organizations before moving beyond them, you might be interested in a piece I wrote a few days ago.

    I make the case below that Ayn Rand was the principle intellectual vector by which Nietzschean nihilism found its place in America.
    http://dizerega.com/2012/08/14/paul-ryans-ideal-ayn-rand-and-the-nihilism-of-the-american-right/

  • Michelle Bell

    As a Christian and a conservative I will gladly vote for Romney and Ryan who uphold the sanctity of life and the principles of liberty. As a Christian I am free to give to charity and support the poor through my church and other charitable organizations. Because Ryan believes that America should have a budget and curb spending does not make him heartless. I do not believe the Gospel requires government to care for all people’s needs. There has to be personal responsibility.

    • Danny

      Well said Michelle.
      In order to make a point and to get one’s voice heard, it seems one has to go to the extreme. Thus, the real point is lost; just like Frank Schaeffer did in this article. This article was biased and idiosyncratic throughout. It seemed to be an angry rant as if to justify his changed position. He actually sounded mentally off.

      • John F. DeFelice

        Not well said Danny. I guess to conservatives any one who tries to make a point for their opposition seems “mentally off”. I tend to find remarks like your offensive. Instead of engaging in the honest task of presenting evidence that debunks Mr Schaeffer’s article, you result to slurs. Very Christian of you. Mr Ryan does appear heartless to many Christians, among them myself. I guess that make me “mentally off” too. Mr Romney also seems suspect with his off shore accounts and refusal to do what his own father did: release his tax returns. Perhaps that makes me mentally off. And I think followers of Ayn Ran’s are political sociopaths. By golly, that may make me “mentally off” as well. Maybe “mentally off” is the new sanity in this world of cash bloated super PACs, a supreme court that actually thinks corporations are people, and a Christian conservative movement that would probably call Jesus himself a red, socialist commie dictating Christian morality. So lets tar and feather HIM as “mentally off” as well along with that pesky Isaiah! In the end, you respond poorly to some one who clearly has the right to assert that he knew Jack Kemp. Jack Kemp was a friend of his and that Ryan is (clearly) no Jack Kemp. No. Frank is not “mentally off.” But your comment certain seems to be.

        • Kit

          Pray tell, how does Paul Ryan “appear heartless to many Christians, among them myself. “

    • http://thepersistentkog.wordpress.com Andy Zook

      But does the Gospel (Jesus teachings) prohibit a gov from attempting altruistic programs? IMO scripture is silent either way (unless you emphasize the OT which did have God/gov instituted laws and programs for the care of the poor)

    • Joan Dawson

      Michelle took the words right out of my mouth. I am proud to be a Catholic, and a conservative woman and I will willingly vote for the Romney/Ryan ticket. I’m tired of the anger spewing from the left. Frank Schaeffer has made a name for himself by first embracing Christianity, conservativism, and the Republican party and then turning his back on all of those ideals. From reading about him over the years, it appears he was a spoiled child who always held himself above all others. Now, he will write and write to try to weaken Ryan’s economic policies… but like it or not, Frank, 1-20-12 is Obama’s last day.

      • Joan Dawson

        That 1-20-12 Freudian slip was wishful thinking…1-20-13 is O.L.D. :)

    • Katherine Harms

      Amen. to Michelle and Joan. Frank appears to be all over the map in his politics and his faith. He has a right to his opinion, and I have a right to reject it. Christians who attempt to make the agent to bring the Kingdom of God to earth have missed a fundamental teaching in the Bible. Jesus did not tell his followers to march on Rome until Caesar gave the poor more bread and circuses. Jesus told his followers to love people and to serve them personally. To insist that our job belongs to the government is a terrible perversion of Jesus’ teaching to love our neighbors. Jesus never once suggested that we tax everbody else in order to achieve our notion of what Jesus wanted for the poor. Jesus wants me and you and everyone to love and give to the poor personally. If you give a dollar to government, a penny might make it into the hands of a poor person. If you give a dollar to a poor person, he has a dollar. :)

      • Joe

        Katherine, is the government an otherworldly entity? Loving people is great, but no matter how much I love someone I can not pay for their $23,000 cancer treatment bill, or pay for their bills now that they are unemployed.
        Government does these things because no one else can. Nothing perverted about it.
        And please, please do not look to the Bible for ideas on tax policy.

        Could everyone stop taking the Bible so literally?

  • jerry lynch

    @Michelle and Danny: Please re-read the article, looking deeply this time, not just closely with your presuppositions. Then do a little research on how our economy ACTUALLY got this bad. The Gospel doesn’t require government to do anything; there are no instructions in it for that end. “We the people” do have instructions form the Gospel, and as this form of government is “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” the Gospel is clear: as Christian people we are to care for “the least of these” as this is how we will be judged.

    As to “personal responsibility,” this is subtle propaganda to make social programs aiding the disadvantaged appear like freeloading. It is meant to conjure up images of people using your tax dollars to live high on the hog (and “high” on drugs and alcohol is included in that spin) in the ghetto (filled with all those “aliens” and Blacks). This economic downturn has put tens of thousands of people who worked hard all their life in dire circumstances, out of work and unable to find employment. It was not choices they made they got them in their positions; it was the choices Republican representatives made in the Oval Office and Congress for the ruinous “supply side” deregulations for Corporations, tax cuts for the rich, and spending cuts to the poor.

    • Will H.

      Jerry,

      People are freeloading using tax dollars. You must not have worked in the grocery business? Spend some time in a corner market and watch how many come in and purchase food “mostly junk food” for breakfast, lunch, and dinner while using their “smart phone” smoking, and possibly buying alcohol with cash or cash benefits from their foodstamp card. And now the President says we have to provide health insurance as well. I grew without electricity and running water (I’m in my thirties), we didn’t have foodstamps or government assistance. I know what poor is and I know what people can do to survive and they can decide they don’t want to live that way and make a good change for the better. We don’t have to provide them with phones, housing, food, tv, and health insurance to say we are taking care of them. It can not be sustained, assistance has to be less (considerably) than what the person/family can do on their own so they move on from government assistance.

      • http://www.rickmcopy.com Rick Middleton

        Where is this free health insurance? Can you send me a link, because that sounds awesome! The Affordable Care Act requires people to buy health insurance, so it isn’t free at all. But if you’ve found some secret Obama clubhouse that is giving it away, let me know ASAP! After all, I’m a Democrat, and heaven knows we looooove to freeload off of everyone else…..

    • Danny

      There were no presuppositions on my part there Jere. It still reads the same (misdirected) to me. The country got where it is from spending what it did not have and we have now hit the wall. It has been both parties overspending and making backslapping deals to send as much as possible of the borrowed funds their way. Individuals do have to take responsibility for themselves and that includes helping those who have less. The government is not capable of doing this because there are too many greedy and careless representatives involved. The waste is incredible. It is not just about the wasteful spending and lack of planning and foresight, it is about a government that no longer resembles the constitution plan and a government that blatantly neglects the needs of the most helpless human beings; the unborn. This article is garbage.

  • jerry lynch

    Thank you for your article, it was extremely helpful to me in gaining some background information and clarifying our present fix. This hard turn to the Right, I feel, is rooted in 911. It was an awesome strike at the spirit of this nation, driving deep into our psyche. And since then the ubiquitous security measures and wars and the Patriot Act and immigration problems having us all getting very defensive. This plays strongly to those who are primarily bent to maintain the status quo: Conservatives. Add to this the Evangelical Right seeing the “plagues” of homosexuality and abortion over-running the morality of this nation, and we have a volatile mixture of Survivalism. Fear has staged a coup over heart and reason. The god of Money is naturally worshipped. Selfishness has become wise, a virtue. And blame let’s us focus that anger of feeling threatened and not in control of our lives. The strident voice of the Tea Party now speaks for our beseiged psyche. We now find in divisiveness a healthy sublimation for our troubled lives, a way to release our bottled worry. These stark contrasts appear to be needed now to feel on firm ground; any grey or ambiguity hides danger.

    To paraphrase Ben Franklin, any society who chooses security over freedom deserves neither. This is where we are. I strongly feel the choice we make in this election will determine whether America remains “the land of the free” or converts to fascism, and for Liberty to win, the vote needs to go to Obama. The election of Romney will mean a surrender to fear and its growing control over our lives.

  • Will H.

    I find Frank’s article hard to believe. His ending line is “Can you be a real Christian or even a good American, if you vote for leaders whose plan for the poor is based on a blatant denial of Jesus’s teaching?” I have not read in the Bible where government is the answer to the poor problem. In fact Jesus states “The poor you will always have with you.” As a pastor and a member of community ministerial group, I find it difficult to find people truly lacking their basic needs. Most of the “poor” circulate through our programs taking food, clothes, household items, and while they are doing that they are talking on their cell phones and smoking cigarettes. They have hud housing, foodstamps, and many have cash benefits on their foodstamp cards so they can buy beer and cigarettes. I feel and many others in our group, why give to church help programs when the government is going to tax us and take from us and give to people who have no desire to change?
    Sorry Frank your poor argument doesn’t pass Bible test. Instead of being the “tolerant” one who condemns “agents of intolerance.” practice what Jesus tells us to do “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

    • http://www.projectvidaelpaso.org Bill S

      Will -

      As a brother in Christ, I hear your frustration. But our Lord bids us not to weary in caring for our neighbor. The lectionary readings this week and last are from John where Jesus feeds the multitude – who then want to make him king. He calls them to the bread that lasts – his body and blood. He fed both with bread, and with his body and blood. We seek to feed as those called to be responsible to God for the world he loves – and feeding means engaging people where they are both in body and in spirit. The desire to change is a gift of the spirit, and our calling is to seek out those in need and to encourage them in knowing that they are beloved and valued. There are no limits to God’s call to us, which is why we live by faith in God’s grace, rather than in our own abilities or even our own judgment of those we would serve.

    • John F. DeFelice

      Haven’t read where it is not! Do we need to live under a Roman emperor to make you happy? A king? A high priest? Because representative government is not Biblical. Are we going to Hell? Does it tell us directly whether or not using automobiles is moral? Or whether or not medicine and surgery is allowed? Or was the US bombing Hiroshima or Nagasaki moral? Humanity has gone a few million miserable miles in the past 2 thousand years. Not every answer will come from religious writings from the late bronze age. Christian fundamentalists often have to stretch the meanings of texts far beyond what the writers ever knew, expected or intended.

  • Leslie

    Ryan has expounded on his initial attraction to Rand, and renounced both her atheism and metaphysics. In a recent article discussing the matter, the author reports that Ryan has been clear: “I reject her philosophy, It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas,” who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit of knowledge. “Don’t give me Ayn Rand.” http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/pageviews/2012/08/veep-nominee-paul-ryan-renounces-former-fascination-with-ayn-rand

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/8601342@N03/ Gregory Peterson

    I never knew him, unfortunately, but I remember Congressman Kemp as a man with poor judgment. He first attracted by attention by being associated with the thankfully defunct (more or less) Christian Voice, a suit and tie homophobe extremist group. I think he was one of the Congressional Associates or whatever they called them. I have their nasty handbook somewhere…thank you thrift store. Billy Graham…and Pat Robertson, if memory serves, endorsed the group in the handbook. Rev. Graham worried about the dreadful secular humanist conspiracy. Well, the CV handbook should be right where it isn’t, so I can’t check my memory at this time. The internet says that the Christian Voice gave Mr. Kemp 100% on their dubiously ethical political report cards, which alone would have been a very good reason to have questions about his judgment, and to not vote for him.

    Mr. Kemp also installed the soon to be fantasist about a blood soaked ethnic cleansing (how do you read the “Left Behind” series?), pseudo-science trafficker and Illuminati conspiracy theorist, Dr. Tim “The Unhappy Gays” LaHaye, with his likewise eyebrow raising wife, Beverly, as co-chairs of his presidential campaign. That arrangement lasted less than a week, if ancient memory serves, as apparently every self aware entity on this side of the Milky way, except for Mr. Kemp, knew what the LaHayes were about….making a very comfortable living by being, in an arrogant, self righteous, viciously passive/aggressive way, anti-most everyone and most everything. Speaking of “Left Behind” and Pastor LaHaye: The Mayans do exist. Why would you want to think they don’t exist? Psst….even if you don’t have, as I do, family connections with Mayan people, there is this thing called “reliable sources.” http://www.leftbehind.com/archiveViewer.asp?ArchiveID=104

    So…you might have guessed that I’m happily ADD. Getting back to the subject at hand, I’m not surprised, then, that Mr. Kemp had been thrilled by Ayn Rand. She is just so awful that her books inadvertently are absurdest comedies of the super ego…or something suitably snarky.

    Mr. Kemp obviously had a big heart, but that didn’t keep his brain from being attracted to too many people with extensive lists of conspiracy theories by imagined enemies, froward mouths and addictions to being outraged that everyone doesn’t do exactly as they say.

    Not being a Jack Kemp isn’t necessarily a bad thing in my book, however much I wanted to like him…and I did want to like him. On the other hand, being a Paul Ryan, an affable, smart man who apparently has a quite constipated moral imagination…I’m old and cynical enough to not trust smiling faces sometimes…I tell you, you can’t see behind smiling faces. (apologies to Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong)

  • Ellen Ross

    I believe that Rand’s biographer was Jennifer Burns, not Jennifer Rubin, but otherwise I found this article extremely helpful and enlightening. Thank you.

  • Emily U

    As a Mormon, I appreciate your making clear that Romney’s pick for VP goes completely against the teachings and ethic of the Mormon church (and of course against the teachings of Jesus). I would never have voted for Romney in the first place, but I’m still appalled at his choice of VP.

    “With Romney nominating the author of the most extreme Randian attack on the poor ever introduced in Congress, the Republican Party has just defined itself as the utilitarian party of greed and individualism run amok.” Too true!

  • PN Peterson

    To get a clearer – and certainly more recent sense – of Ryan’s thoughts economic, you should pick up Luigi Zingales’ “A Capitalism for the People”. Ryan blurbed the back and quotes Zingales’ research often in op-eds and speeches.

    The premise of the book is that there is a fundamental difference between “pro-business” and “pro-free market”. The former being a condition often connected to “big government” environments (mostly Europe, and especially Zingales’ native Italy) where economic success is dependent on “regulatory capture” – essentially paying off the government to protect business interests. Zingales wonders with the growth of public sector influence in the United States whether we are headed down this same road….essentially, “crony capitalism”.

    The “pro-free market” approach will come as some news to folks like Schaeffer who prefer a world of stereotypes and caricatures. Zingales (and Ryan has agreed) is dead set against “too big to fail” and legislation like Dodd-Frank, which has done little to ameliorate this condition. At the same time, he also comes out against the repeal of Glass-Stegall – not that it is connected to the ongoing fiscal crisis, but that it has opened the doors to regulatory capture and the decrease in smaller, “community” financial institutions.

    No candidate on any presidential ticket is talking more intelligently or frequently on the dangers of crony capitalism (from Fannie/Freddie to ACA) than Ryan, and no one understands the demographic crisis that we are entering in to better than he does.

    Don’t worry about Rand, Mr Schaeffer, worry about the math problem that is our entitlement state. We are so far from a libertarian/laissez faire state that the Liberal fears of such conditions are ridiculous. Have you seen housing prices in the DC-area Mr Schaeffer? Liberals always have a blind spot when it comes to the growth of government. Rarely do they acknowledge their fellow travelers in big business and labor, while the common good suffers.

    • Joe

      Free markets? Really? That is fantasy land. Ever watched a football game? Did you notice they had lines, and goalposts, and a clock? Did you notice they had referees? A scoreboard? Not very free is it? Lots of rules. But you know, I suppose if there were no rules, no clock, no referees, not even rules of any kind at all, even guns and knives allowed, I suppose there would be a lot of interest in watching the death and destruction – but after one “game” there could be no more. Everyone would be dead.

      That is what you are seeing in our economic system, the death of capitalism. Capitalism is in the cancer stage, and if the neo-cons get in, it will advance to stage 4 faster than you can say Wall Street.

      Back to the NFL for a moment, Americans must realize what makes NFL football so great: socialism. NFL + “free market” ? Look for 65-0 blowouts every week. Very entertaining!

  • TJP

    Frank….like you have changed your views over the years doesn’t Ryan have the same privilege? Of course, the cynicism of politics will say that he just pandering to a voting audience. As Christians I believe we should give people the benefit of the doubt. Ryan has a good track record. For me, I call myself a libservative, any administration that promotes the killing of our unborn is evil and no matter how much they “say” they are for the poor their actions speak louder than their words.

  • Pingback: Paul Ryan, You’re No Jack Kemp!

  • Joe

    Will, please re-read Jerry’s comment. The idea that “the government this, the government that…, is a red herring. WE are the government. This is a Constitutionally Limited Democratic Republic, not a dictatorship, and so we can not get off by saying such and such is not the government’s role. And, not everything we decide to do as a nation has to be prescribed in the Bible. It is not a manual for how to set up a country. Maybe you think the church should take care of the poor. The church does a lousy job of taking care of the poor within their own ranks, let alone the poor outside their doors. And with church attendance in the USA dropping below 20% now, how can the “church” be expected to do much of anything but pay for bloated staffs and put on endless programs.

    Maybe you think because their is abuse in the system, there should be no system. Again, a red herring. There will be abuse in any system. However, and even my conservative friends agree with me on this, there is way more abuse of the system by large corporations (can you name any banksters in jail? Didn’t think so) than by the trailer trash you refer to.

    Good article Frank. I’ve been to a Labri center, and it was funny how the staffer tried to discount Frank’s own recollection of events that led to him writing his bestseller, “Crazy for God”. Read that book if you have not already.

  • Pingback: What kind of society do we want to be? — Looking back at Mario Cuomo’s 1984 “covered wagon” speech

  • Dr. Michael Littlejohn

    If “believing Christians can’t vote for Ryan unless he distances himself from Rand”, then the only other choices are to either not vote or to vote for Obama. I find these choices totally unacceptable and deplorable. Is Frankie Schaeffer going to vote for Obama? Are believing Christians going to vote for Obama? Obama is the worst US president ever, an unqualified incompetent failure and to re-elect him will not serve the poor or the rich. It will only lead to increased government, more taxes, unworkable deficits and debt, and a power structure dedicated to changing America into a European style country based on selfishness and deceit. This article is a sham and a shame.

  • chucklingabit

    “Jack was not trying to make the super-rich even richer at the expense of the poor.”

    This sentence alone makes it clear you are nothing but a goofy ideologue. No one is trying to cut taxes to try and make the rich richer at the expense of the poor. Like you said, they “sincerely believe” that it will benefit the poor.

    Pathetic article.

  • chucklingabit

    Do you think being a conservative means that one must dislike or disregard for the poor? Please just keep in mind that the 10 most charitable states lean Republican and the 10 least charitable states lean Democratic. This is no coincidence.

    Nearly everyone believes that the poor need to be helped. The argument is over the best way to do so. Leftists feel that the government is best suited to that role, and their level of charitable giving and willingness to raise taxes coincides with this belief. Conservatives feel that individuals, organizations, churches, etc that voluntarily donate money are best suited — in the long run — to serve the interests of the poor, and their level of charitable giving and lack of interest in higher taxes reflects that (and some other) belief(s.)

  • chucklingabit

    Are you joking? Can you supply any evidence whatsoever that Ryan favors *no rules* governing society and the markets, as you imply? Obviously, he is in favor of government defending the rights of each men against the subjugation of others. The laws which govern that protection are… rules.

    Like Peterson implied, it’s pretty easy to win arguments against straw men.

    BTW, what a bizarre analogy: football is.. socialism?


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