I have written of Paul Ryan before and his supposed denunciation of Ayn Rand and adherence to the doctrines of St Thomas and of Catholic social teaching; you can read it here.
Now that he is the Republican candidate for vice president his beliefs take on a new importance. While we were spared a Catholic conservative presidential candidate, we now have one of the worst contending for the number two spot.
And what a weird man he is. First, he has the gall to state that his love of Ayn Rand is an “urban legend”. Uh, I’m sorry, Mr Ryan, an urban legend by definition cannot be documented. You have been filmed praising Ayn Rand. You have been quoted about the importance of her thought on your life; you said she inspired you to enter politics. You have said that you push her books on your staff. If you are a Thomist you are a very odd one, one whose every position contradicts the Angelic Doctor and his thought.
Secondly, he is weird because of the details of his life. He often cites finding his father’s dead body, at the age of 16, as being formative. As a good Catholic boy he sought solace in the sacraments, the rosary, and the writings of the saints. Actually, he did not do any of those things. He sought comfort and direction reading right wing economists, of whom Ayn Rand was first in importance. I think the only sane response to this bit of autobiography is “WTF??!!?” How can reading of the virtues of selfishness and greed, the “evil” of compassion, the creative destruction of the market possibly give anyone solace in a time of grief?
There is something profoundly wrong about that.
When I first heard that Romney had chosen Ryan I thought perhaps that was a good thing, that it would inspire a discussion about authentic Catholic social doctrine.
But then I realized that the volume and the money are on the right. And that most conservative Catholics are only too eager to get behind any Americanist who can throw around a few buzzwords (“subsidiarity!”) to lay claim to being a faithful adherent of the Faith. If I have learned anything from decades of fighting this fight it is that few Catholics care what the Church teaches on these things when they contradict treasured ideologies and American exceptionalism.
It is going to get divisive. And it is going to get ugly.