March 3, 2024

The Ayn Rand Cabinet




Today’s Events in Historical Perspective

America’s Longest-Running Column, Founded 1932

The Ayn Rand Cabinet

By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift

WASHINGTON – So far there are three prospective members of Donald Trump’s Cabinet who are admirers of Ayn Rand, and so is Donald Trump. He sees himself replacing Gary Cooper as the lead character in the movie version of Rand’s bestselling work, “The Fountainhead”.

For followers of Rand, and they were legion back in the day, the handsome and rugged Cooper embodied the swashbuckling architect who ruthlessly blows up a project that doesn’t measure up to his exacting requirements.

If anyone wondered what governing philosophy Trump would bring to the White House, it starts with Rand’s core belief in unbridled capitalism. The self is all that matters. Get government out of business and business will thrive. And if business thrives, all is well in the pursuit of happiness. She was not her brother’s keeper, but in old age she relied upon Medicare and accepted Social Security.

ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, a tall, silver-haired Texan, bonded with Trump over a shared reverence for Rand. Tillerson, more than Trump, could step into Gary Cooper’s shoes as though a casting agent sent him. Trump is dazzled by appearances, and when he first met Tillerson, he said he was in a whole different league than the other contenders he interviewed to become his secretary of State.

Anyone who can leave Mitt Romney in the dust when it comes to looking the part of a diplomat must be someone special. All Tillerson needs is someone with the cult-like influence of Rand to testify at his confirmation hearing that what’s good for ExxonMobil must be good for the United States.

Never have we seen a Cabinet so representative of the libertarian, laissez-faire philosophy Rand championed. For those who didn’t vote for Trump, it’s a shock to know that the regulatory state President Obama promulgated in an effort to even the playing field for Americans outside the corporate class could be coming to an abrupt end.

Incoming Labor Secretary Andrew Puzder is an outspoken follower of Rand, and has been quoted saying that “Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged” are required reading for his six children. Puzder, too, is like a character out of a Rand book in his self-interested opposition to raising the minimum wage. He is the CEO of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., fast food chains that employee thousands of low-wage workers.

Rounding out the trio of Randians is Mike Pompeo Rep. R-Kans., who Trump named to head the CIA. He has said that reading Rand inspired him. Maybe it will help him navigate the labyrinthine corridors of power in the world of spies.

Once upon a time Rand captivated a lot of young men, including former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan who was part of her inner circle of devotees in the 1950’s. They were known as the Ayn Rand Collective. Greenspan read “Atlas Shrugged” while it was being written, adopting her philosophy of objectivism.

Objectivism is described as a philosophy of rational individualism. The ideal man, in Rand’s view, is one who “lives by his own effort and does not give or receive the underserved, who honors achievement and rejects envy.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., was once an outspoken fan of Rand, giving her books to everyone who worked for him, including interns. But in recent interviews, he’s acted surprised that anyone would think he was a follower, even dismissing his earlier association as an urban legend.

As the Christian Coalition and other right-leaning religious groups gained dominance in the Republican Party, Ryan’s ardor for Rand evidently cooled. She was after all an atheist.

In Trump’s Cabinet, capitalism is the new religion.


          A discussion of Douglas Cohn’s new books, “World War 4,” endorsed by seven flag officers, and “The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency”, may be found at: or by typing “C-SPAN” and “Cohn”

Twitter:  @douglas_cohn

© 2016 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.

Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.


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