Who Is Ayn Rand?

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With the recent selection of Paul Ryan as Gov. Mitt Romney's running mate the record of the representative from Wisconsin is now under the intense scrutiny that comes with seeking our nation's highest office. 

Also under scrutiny is Ryan's philosophical -- and moral and ethical -- perspective, that which guided his policy decisions of the past and what may continue to guide him should he go on to be the next Vice President. Which brings us to Ayn Rand.

“There is no better place to find the moral case for capitalism and individualism," Ryan told The Atlas Society in 2005, "than through Ayn Rand’s writings and works."

"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."

Rand's philosophy, her own Objectivism but more so her Libertarianism, has undergone a major resurgence since the election of President Obama. Associated with the rise of the Tea Party and Glenn Beck, Rand's ideas have now made it all the way to the top of the presidential ticket. 

As an organization dedicated to fighting for the common good, Demos is naturally positioned to counter Rand's extreme individualism, and has been doing so, in the public square, for the past year and a half. No other progressive group has more frequently taken on Rand's ideas.

As an introduction to Rand in our politics and policy today, collected below is a sampling of Demos confronting the leading Objectivists and Libertarians while making a strong case for progressive values.

From the Government and Here to Help

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From the financial crisis to Obamacare to the budget debates, the size and scope of government is being debated across the country. One side calls for more regulation to foster equitable prosperity, while the other side says government has grown too big and intrusive. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, and David Callahan, co-founder of Demos, join Ford Hall Forum president Dominick Ianno to debate the fundamental social, economic, and moral ideas that underlie politics in America today.

Government: What Is Its Proper Role?

After the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath a great political divide emerged among many Americans reexamining the direction of our country. One side says that unleashed free-market policies led to the worst downturn since the Great Depression, and calls for effective government to foster more equitable prosperity. The other side says that government has grown too big and too intrusive, and calls for the country to rediscover the virtues of limited government and free-market capitalism.

President of Demos, Miles Rapoport debates President of The Ayn Rand Institute, Yaron Brook

Freedom: From Whom and From What?

What does "freedom" really mean? Is freedom best advanced by limited government and an unregulated market, or by a robust public sector? Should we try to spread freedom abroad? This debate between Harry Binswanger and Benjamin Barber addresses these questions.

The Affordable Care Act: Is It Constitutional?


Demos' David Callahan defends the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act and the importance of public regulation to support widely shared prosperity. Callahan sits down with Yahoo! Finance economics editor Daniel Gross and Yaron Brook, President of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights.