As if shutting down a bridge and making schoolchildren pee their pants in engineered traffic wasn’t bad enough, NJ governor Chris Christie managed to force a shut down of the beaches ahead of July 4th weekend. When his approval rating was already at 15%. And then he decided to take his family and friends to bask on a deserted state beach.
As average NJ citizens were turned away by state troopers, Christie’s children and friends were waved through. When asked why he thought it was acceptable for a public servant to use the state park when citizens weren’t allowed to access it, Christie’s response was “go run for Governor”.
The couple of days later, Ivanka Trump sat in for her father at an event during the G20 summit, representing the USA. Such a task is normally reserved for a high level official. Though Ivanka was part of the US delegation and serves as a senior advisor, this is highly unusual.
Why would politicians do things that are so patently self-destructive and distasteful? To answer this, you’d have to understand the rot at the heart of the Republican party and modern conservatism, the religion of objectivism.
A donor close to Christie has made movies out of Rand’s novels. Donald Trump admires the Fountainhead. Paul Ryan is enthralled by Ayn Rand, and many prominent Republicans share that fascination. Objectivism is the religion that lets Limbaugh rail on about moochers and takers.
There’s some reason to believe Rand would reject the modern Republican platform, she was famously pro-choice and an atheist. And clearly, Republicans read what they wish into Rand. And what they’ve chosen to champion is objectivism’s strident defense of selfishness. Rand’s religion devalues all sense of public service or social responsibility, and deliberately demeans altruism. In this light, Christie’s actions and Trump’s make perfect sense. Of course the governor should enjoy the beach, he “earned” the governorship and he should do what is in his self-interest. Of course Trump should send his daughter to take his seat, if that’s what he thinks is in his self-interest. The whining masses should just go get themselves a job (as governor or president) if they want things to be different.But if they’re altruistic, they’re chumps who’ve been duped by “communitarians”. Which, of course, makes Nikki Haley’s defense of the Trumps as a “public servant family” ridiculous on numerous levels.
The GOP’s intoxicated worship of “job-creators” has the same ideological underpinnings. The “job creators” are paragons of the selfish ideal, and therefore ooze virtue in the objectivist world. Their every need and desire for a tax-cut must be served by their acolytes in the Republican party.
This religion of billionaire-worship is what attracts Republicans to “success-stories” like Donald Trump, and blinds them to the many cons perpetrated by him. If you accept selfishness as a virtue (rather than a necessity) all sorts of behavior can be excused away.
This radical ideology is what drives Republican’s white-hot hate for the estate tax. As the objectivist ideal is the fulfillment of self-interest, community interest and societal contributions to individual successes are devalued. All fortunes, even if they were amassed through oppression or plunder, are justified for an objectivist. Ayn Rand vigorously defended European colonization and its associated dispossession and genocides. In her mind, “savages” don’t have individual rights. How fortunate for Rand that she wasn’t born a “savage” human.
And yes, objectivism is a religion, easily molded to serve ethno-nationalist or supremacist impulses, as Rand herself demonstrated. You might even consider it a cult, Ayn Rand drew around her a famously loyal flock of acolytes and devotees, some of whom have gone on to assume high offices.