Essentially Ayn Rand and her followers see a virtue in living a life which maximizes one's potential - achieving self-actualization (Maslow).
As frustrating as it can be, perhaps we can gain ground by explaining that liberals agree in principle with her philosophy (stick with me for a moment). Conservatives need to realize that we also stand for a society which recognizes rights to Life (Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness, Property included).
What is habitually lost in these discussions is a coming to terms: 'Right to Life'
What do us liberals mean when we use that as a foundation of our ideology?
safe food, water, air, energy, transportation, housing, sex, speech, financial system...
affordable basic healthcare
universal quality basic education
opportunities to earn a healthy living
fair justice system regardless of wealth
Feel free to add to the list.
The thing is that when our government succeeds in facilitating the presence of these conditions, my 'Right to Life' is more fully realized. AND when these conditions are extended to my neighbor, my 'right to life' is ALSO more fully realized. WHY? Because I am safer and more prosperous when my neighbor is also flourishing.
They don't seem to appreciate that when the State has the monopoly on violence, as long as the justice system is accountable to the public, this prevents gangsters, warlords, bullies from violating one's right to physical safety (which is what Rand thinks is the ultimate right).
Two predictable responses:
1) TPers will say that a society which provides nothing but property rights is liberating because then you know that you can only rely on yourself and so act accordingly - then whatever the outcome; that is justice (including taking advantage of emotionally/cognitively compromised individuals, no joke).
2) That, and, 'right to life' means that a fertilized egg has the same rights as a person. Ask them if they'd save either one child or dozens (hundreds, thousands?!) of fertilized eggs in a lab that caught fire and expose to them that there is a clear difference between a real human being and a microscopic fertilized egg.
Ultimately, while it can be a useful motivator to have the mindset that you're on your own in the world, hopefully we can all learn to appreciate the virtues of individualism while recognizing that without a good government, the resultant society that Ryan/Romney are fighting for fundamentally is designed to exploit a large segment of the population.
I wonder if we can come to terms with the word 'exploit'? When someone is uninformed, maladapted, desperate they are forced to accept undignified, unhealthy, or even dangerous circumstances...
Perhaps most revealing, in a discussion with an adherent to Rand's philosophy, he said our government shouldn't have a Congress who makes new laws (democracy is bad). No, only judges who uphold Rand's views on Liberty should be allowed.
Rather un-American in my reading of the Constitution.
Oh yeah, don't forget that Ayn Rand thinks you're a fool if you believe in God - she wouldn't include you into her circle of rational thinkers.
Dear conservative brothers and sisters, please let us help you (and everybody else) flourish and self-actualize.
Your Loving Neighbor.