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Meet Ron Johnson, the Randiest of the Ayn Rand Republicans

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Cross-posted from The Nation

Senator Ron Johnson speaks to reporters in 2011. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite.)

There is ample evidence to suggest that leading Republican members of the House and Senate are a good deal more familiar with the fiction of Ayn Rand than with the self-evident truths of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison or Abraham Lincoln.

While the movers and shakers in the party's congressional caucuses may struggle with the meaning of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution or the essential premises of the first Republican president, they can quote chapter and verse from the Russian-born writer who William F. Buckley once decried as a purveyor of "ideological fabulism" with a "scorn for charity."

Rand's books serve as an ideological touchstone for a new generation of Republican politicians who have built their politics around the writer's cold delineation of distinctions between idealized "makers" and disdained "takers."

House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, the party's 2012 vice-presidential nominee, peppers his remarks with Randian references and once admitted, "The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand."

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann employed the Rand lexicon  during her 2012 presidential run. California Congressman John Campbell gives interns copies of Rand's opus, Atlas Shrugged, while House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-California, tweets: "Still reading Atlas Shrugged -- it's quite the read."

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul says he's really a "Randy" -- not a namesake of the author. "But," he adds, "I am a big fan of Ayn Rand. I've read all of her novels."

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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I'm happy to know that so many politicians in ... by Pankaj Kishore on Wednesday, Jan 30, 2013 at 7:57:25 AM
I love the Ayn Rand quote! I just finished reading... by Gary Kutcher on Wednesday, Jan 30, 2013 at 1:54:33 PM
 Don't mind Paul Krugman, he is only a Nobel ... by BFalcon on Friday, Feb 1, 2013 at 12:51:21 AM
Dorothy Parker said, "This is not a novel to be to... by John Sanchez Jr. on Thursday, Jan 31, 2013 at 8:33:10 AM
At least she had a sense of humor, something which... by Wil Masisak on Thursday, Jan 31, 2013 at 12:10:45 PM
sense of humor, and as we all know, or at least sh... by John Sanchez Jr. on Thursday, Jan 31, 2013 at 1:28:32 PM
And by the way, it's unlikely Dorothy Parker even ... by Wil Masisak on Thursday, Jan 31, 2013 at 2:05:47 PM
worthy of human society in the work of Ayn Rand. H... by John Sanchez Jr. on Friday, Feb 1, 2013 at 12:09:03 AM
Of Johnson we can say He admires the teachings of ... by Phil Linehan on Wednesday, Jan 30, 2013 at 11:46:50 AM
The question is, has Johnson Controls scammed scho... by janet O'Connell on Wednesday, Jan 30, 2013 at 12:04:32 PM
What?  Other than sharing a very common surna... by Eric Arthur Blair on Wednesday, Jan 30, 2013 at 10:54:33 PM
There were a couple of dropped words; it should re... by Eric Arthur Blair on Wednesday, Jan 30, 2013 at 10:58:36 PM
Wisconsinites have given us Paul Ryan.....Then the... by Dennis Kaiser on Thursday, Jan 31, 2013 at 11:51:55 AM
If Rand Paul read all of Ryan's books, he didn't c... by Jerry Scott on Wednesday, Jan 30, 2013 at 12:14:53 PM
so like an American non-thinker to read without co... by Wil Masisak on Thursday, Jan 31, 2013 at 12:18:50 PM
I agree, but why are they attempting to take that ... by Dennis Kaiser on Thursday, Jan 31, 2013 at 2:09:02 PM