“I grew up reading Ayn Rand, and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are and what my beliefs are. It’s inspired me so much that it’s required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff.” -- Paul Ryan, 2005If you can stomach the read, the Ayn Rand Institute, which dubs itself the Center for the Institute of Objectivism, defines the ethics of objectivism as follows:
Man—every man—is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others; he must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself; he must work for his rational self-interest, with the achievement of his own happiness as the highest moral purpose of his life." Thus Objectivism rejects any form of altruism—the claim that morality consists in living for others or for society.Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with it, objectivist philosophy is clear: helping others at your own expense is bad. Giving a homeless person a dollar? Violation of rational self-interest. Holding a door open for a wheelchair? Don't bother. Advocate for a social safety net? Not if you're the "producer" whose tax dollars pay for those lazy parasites. In objectivism, actions are only moral to the degree to which they directly redound to the rational self-interest of the user: that is to say, discounting such spiritual considerations as karma, or even that warm feeling that can wash over someone through even the smallest acts of basic generosity.
The extension of objectivist philosophy to the political arena calls, then, for the end of any policy that prevents a man from being as much of an end to himself as he possibly can through redistributive measures: in other words, no tax dollars to pay for basic social welfare such as food assistance, or social security and Medicare for the elderly and disabled. The problem with implementing objectivist policy at any level of government, however, is that it requires people who believe in objectivism to make the sacrifice to run for office.
But if those individuals who would push to implement objectivist policy actually believed in it, why would they run for office in the first place?
Objectivists who actually believe in their ideology would only run for office if they believed that holding the office would be better for their rational self-interest than anything else they could theoretically do with the amount of time invested in winning, as well as the duties involved with the position and any potential perks and benefits that could be taken advantage of after the period in office comes to a close. Now, most people would believe exactly that, if given the opportunity; but remember that the sample size we're talking about in terms of people with a shot at making it at the higher levels of office is rather small, and a large degree of success is essentially a structural prerequisite in the Citizens United era of politics.
But even presuming an authentic objectivist made such a calculation and came to hold office, that individual would then only seek to implement policy that stood to redound to that person's rational self-interest, and would not choose to sacrifice personal ambition to push for unpopular policies. The very act of working so hard, expending so much political capital, and engaging in that type of self-sacrifice to remake government in an objectivist image would in and of itself seem to constitute a violation of objectivist principles exactly to the degree to which promotion of ideology is put ahead of promotion of the self.
It's sort of like the movie Fight Club: The only true objectivists are those who don't spend a minute more promoting their ideology than they absolutely have to.