Paul Ryan once said that the reason he got into public service was because he had been inspired by Ayn Rand. But as anyone who is even superficially familiar with the late libertarian knows, Rand’s philosophy left no room for “public service.” She envisioned a place in which government does not exist, where the weak are left to struggle on their own, and society is propelled forward by the John Galts of the world, or as Ryan calls them, “job creators.” Of course, for all of Rand’s philosophical broadsides against government, she had no qualms about collecting Medicare and Social Security benefits.
In truth, this hypocrisy is about the only similarity between Ryan and Rand. To say that Ayn Rand inspired him to become a public servant is tantamount to Ryan admitting that he does not actually believe in public service, except to the extent that he wants to reduce the number of services provided to the public. Though this understanding of the idea is odd, it is not necessarily a contradiction. If Ryan really believes the public is best served by a government that is limited in its powers and scope—as most Republicans claim to believe—then so be it.
But what does Ryan’s record indicate?
Based on what mainstream pundits are saying, Paul Ryan is either a bold choice with a grand vision to fix the country’s dire fiscal problems, or a radical Tea Party ideologue who wants to push America’s grannies off a cliff.
Both assessments are wrong.
Paul Ryan isn’t bold, and he’s no more of an extremist than Mitt Romney. Instead, Paul Ryan is your basic pro-bank bailout, anti-civil liberties, warmongering politician who wants to finance tax cuts for the wealthy by slashing social programs. Subsequently, Ryan has the temerity to insist that we, all of us, need to have an “adult conversation” about the state of the country’s finances, as if the American public, and not Ryan, has been the one exploding the national debt with votes in favor of the Afghanistan war, the Iraq war, the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act that was essentially $500 billion taxpayer-funded giveaway to the pharmaceutical industry, among other boondoggles.
In the end, Ryan’s record won’t be all that impactful because his positions mirror those of Romney’s on most major issues. The media is so desperate for new angles in this intolerably boring race between Obama and Romney, that they’re eager to portray Paul Ryan as a radical departure from business as usual, but in fact Paul Ryan is business as usual.