After all these years, the debunked pseudo philosopher has finally gotten herself a road to the White House. Although long dead, her spirit has thrived in the hearts and minds of 15 year old males and selfish plutocrats looking for a way to justify their refusal to clean their rooms or their burning desire to keep their interest and dividends earnings/trust fund/insider trading windfall all to themselves.
Meet Paul Ryan, the newly minted Republican Vice Presidential candidate. Strapped onto Romney’s side like a Rugar onto an aging New Hampshire Libertarian, Ryan is posited as the one who will make Romney human. Yes, Ryan, the self proclaimed student of the archetypical anti-human, Ayn Rand, will give the public the illusion that someone among the two of them gives a damn about someone besides themselves.
Already the Romney camp has had to decide to stuff down the press’ anxious inquiries into the details of the famous Ryan plan — you know, the plan that Newt Gingrich himself thought was going a little too far? Yeah, that Newt Gingrich, he of the “make mothers drop their babies where-ever to work at McDonald’s” Contract on America Gingrich, no shining Samaritan he. But that little glimmer of empathy made the GOP panic enough to furiously remind Newt that the Big Daddy GOP ain’t having any of that middling concern for old people, children and poor folks. Ryan’s plan must succeed! Old folks wheel your chairs to the gallows! The time has come for the great sacrifice for Capital!
Can we imagine a world ruled by Romney and Ryan? A world where insider trading becomes a right, where the sitting president’s offspring will run to hold the highest office in the land year after year? Where Congress won’t have to bother to have session because everyone knows the outcome already — what’s to argue? Where the television shows will blast sitcoms of happy rich people day and night and news casts will consist of lost puppy dogs and the weekly roll-call of prisoners condemned to death?
Can we imagine a world where housing subsidies are cut and a half million people will find themselves instantly homeless? Where the disease stricken or the mobility disabled will be left to hobble or crawl home to die because they can’t buy a hospital voucher? Will apartment buildings that once the landlords received subsidies for become abandoned as they can’t make the mortgage payments for lack of tenants that can pay rent on a Wal-Mart salary? Will municipal welfare departments shutter their doors, lacking the resources to serve? Food pantries run dry, soup kitchens become over run, having to turn out before the line outside is exhausted? Will entire neighborhoods turn black at night as power prices soar without subsidies to control them?
Will children who slept in parks, cars, alley ways, abandoned buildings, with no heat, no running water, filthy from the day before, shy away from school? Living with no place to study, with no cooked food to eat, living among a world of prosperity, what message will those children absorb?
Will murders rise as people in the cities fight over scarce resources? Will an armed suburban guerilla warfare begin as the inner city poor turn to the suburbs where once soccer moms plant homemade mines around their pristine three acre plot? Where angry and hungry inner city residents crouch behind mulberry bushes and stinkweed in the summer humidity to wait for the right moment to fire and overtake the house that has a water well and a churning diesel generator keeping the well stocked freezer going? Will the police state expand, will martial law be called?
Paranoid some? Talk to your neighbors. Talk to some “preppers”, one underground group among many convinced that the scenario described in the last paragraph isn’t too far off. Unfortunately, what’s lost is the trajectory of how the nation could get there. Its in our control, we don’t have to give up and allow defeat to define our future.
Often pundits and other observers remark on the poor memory of the American electorate. While the poor recall of a politician’s remark or slip of judgment is one thing; to forget our entire human history is quite another. Only within the last half of the last century did a huge portion of the human population get a chance to know what its like to have a place out of the rain and cold; to know when or where our next meal is coming from — or what it will be; a rat? a discarded piece of bread? a donation from the back of a UN truck? A lot of that had to do with capital prosperity, but that, unlike the story repeated erroneously among the American public, did not happen naturally by the accumulation of capital alone. It seems that people assume that the accumulation of wealth and capital assets automatically results in general popular prosperity, as if a natural occurrence as regular and reliable as the sun following the moon.
But the social contract did not fall out of the sky, it is not written in the bark of trees. What is written in the bark of trees is the struggle of nature, of the universally understood vulgarity of nature that many like to not think about; the live and let live, the kill or be killed. Paul Ryan’s mentor in spirit Ayn Rand celebrated the brute violence of survival and believed that all humans had attained their highest actualization when they begin to act as if they had no more self awareness than a snarling dog in a pack.
We have the capacity to become dogs; to emulate the most vile and base behavior and return to our mammalian roots. But with our larger brains that developed the awareness we call “self”; the “I”, also came the awareness that without the ‘you’ — our mother, our father, our brother, our neighbor, that “I” becomes merely a weak, hungry mass of flesh whose worth can only be redeemed by the contribution made to the other — the community who can hear us cry out. If Romney and Ryan get in the white house and do what they wish, we’ll need more than just a god to help us, we’ll each other and our memory.