For years, there were people who studiously ignored Ayn Rand. Things are changing. This year we’ve already seen VP nominee Paul Ryan talk about his admiration for Atlas Shrugged (albeit later distancing himself from Rand’s philosophy), but now President Obama tells Rolling Stone that “sure,” he’s read Ayn Rand. Leaving aside whether he understood what he claims to have read (more on that here, here, and here), it is worth dwelling on this fact: Here’s the President of the United States, putative leader of the free world, critiquing (what he takes to be) Rand’s philosophic outlook.
I happen to think Obama’s take on her is wrong. Rand tackles — and provides original new answers to — crucial and timeless questions, such as what is the good? how should society be organized? what is government’s proper role? Her answers point toward a society that enshrines individual rights — as a moral ideal and a practical fact. It’s past time that Rand’s ideas get the hearing they deserve.