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November 19, 2012 9:36 AM Romney, Republicans, and Rand

By Jonathan Bernstein

Jonathan Chait riffs today on Romney, Republicans, and libertarians. His general point that every faction after a loss simply blames all the other factions is certainly correct.

But I think it’s unfair to libertarians to stick them with Ayn Rand. I agree with Chait that Rand is electoral poison, but it’s easy to be a very conservative libertarian without even a hint of Rand. As I read it, there’s nothing whatsoever about libertarian idea which require the belief in an elite group of “makers.” That’s Rand — but it isn’t inherent in ideas about radical support of markets over government. Now, I think the libertarian vision has plenty of problems, including at least in some versions too much of a tilt to the rich (although I think the problems are elsewhere; in my view, libertarian economics just doesn’t work well). But inherent elitism isn’t part of it. Plenty of libertarians honestly believe that less government interference not only is good for ordinary working folks, but should be adopted specifically on that basis. They may be wrong, but they aren’t Rand.

But he’s right that a lot of what we heard from Republicans in this cycle was Rand-derived, and of course there’s Paul Ryan, right in the middle of it. So yes, I do think Republicans have an Ayn Rand problem. But that’s not necessarily a libertarian problem.

[Cross-posted at A plain blog about politics]

Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist who writes about American politics, especially the presidency, Congress, parties, and elections.