The news reported late last night that Romney has chosen a running mate and his name is Paul Ryan, the young (he's only 2 years older than me!) and boyish looking Congressman from Wisconsin who is considered the intellectual wizard of the Republican Party for his budget proposal last year. He is no Sarah Palin, that's for sure. Last year, I predicted that Romney would pick Jeb Bush as a running mate. It made sense because the Bush and Romney families are close and since 1980, no Republican has won the presidency without Bush on the ticket (granted, only Dole-Kemp in 1996 and McCain-Palin in 2008 were the only ones without a Bush on the ticket, but we're talking 8 elections here). Of course, having a Bush on the ticket doesn't guarantee a win (1992), but it will be interesting if a Mormon-Catholic political ticket will be able to win.
That's right, Paul Ryan is a Catholic, which makes this an interesting combination. Evangelical Christians, who make up the bulk of the base of the Republican Party, do not like or trust either the Roman Catholic Church or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons). This combination would appear to be the anti-Christ to many Bible-thumping knuckle draggers from the South. If only they didn't hate our black president so much, they might just stay home or vote third party.
At a rally in Norfolk, Virginia earlier today, Romney actually introduced Paul Ryan to the crowd gathered there as "the next president of the United States..." Obviously a slip of the tongue, but perhaps his soul knows what his ego does not want to admit: that Romney is going to lose the election. It's interesting that they chose the Nautilus Museum in Norfolk, with the USS Wisconsin as a backdrop. The USS Wisconsin is a decommissioned battleship that now serves as a museum. Perhaps that's appropriate, because like that ancient warship that saw its best days in World War II, so are Ryan's ideas about government, budgets, and taxes (from the economic policies of the three consecutive Republican Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover that resulted in the Great Depression).
The most important thing to know about Paul Ryan is that he claims Ayn Rand as the most influential person in shaping his ideas about government. In fact, so fanatical is Ryan about Rand that he actually requires his staff members and interns to read her books (or at least Atlas Shrugged). Shouldn't that be considered "cruel and unusual punishment"? He gives her books to people for Christmas gifts. Many of the critiques I've read about Ayn Rand is that her books tend to appeal to teenage boys, who eventually grow out of the spell she casts. In my junior or senior year in high school, I admit that I became intrigued by Ayn Rand. I considered myself a "nonconformist" and wanted to read any ideas by others who were "nonconformists" so, naturally, Ayn Rand seemed to fit the bill. I came across her book For the New Intellectual or some title like that. But I couldn't get into it, just as I could never get into Jean-Paul Sartre. The writing was dense. I don't consider myself an "intellectual", probably for this reason. Like many atheists, both Rand and Sartre seemed more interested in their intelligence and showing it off in their dense writing styles than actually writing something that would appeal to a mass audience or at least be understood without the use of Cliffnotes. I haven't read any of Rand's works and don't really have time to devote to her monstrous novels when there are so many good and great books on my reading list that I haven't gotten to yet.
The final nail in the coffin on Rand for me was when I was in the Navy and met a fellow sailor whom I could have intelligent conversations with that did not revolve around sports, beer, or sex. When it turned out that he was a die hard Ayn Randist, though, the friendship kind of fizzled out. Every Rand fan that I've met has been extremely egotistical and selfish. That makes them very difficult for me to be friends with. I'm not exactly sure why, but I think personal values does matter in friendships and all relationships. The entire basis of Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged is that the wealthy tycoons have their feelings hurt because society doesn't worship them as gods, so they decide to run away and form their own society without the people they refer to as "leeches." In reality, though, the wealthy cannot live without the working class. Who will cook their meals, clean their homes, do their laundry, scrub their toilets? They sure as hell don't want to do it and time is too valuable for them to do such work, anyway. In college, I remember reading an article about how some resort town in Colorado had houses that only the wealthy could afford to live there, and yet the town had a problem because they needed people to work in the stores and restaurants in town, so the town had to bus in workers from another town. That's typical Rand: the wealthy want to live in gated communities where they won't have to deal with the rest of us who aren't rich, and yet they can't live the kind of lifestyle they want without people serving their every need and desire. So it becomes: we need you to work here, but you can't live here. Instead, you get to have a long commute to work each day. Is this the kind of America we want to live in?
I say, "hell no!" Romney and Ryan, you can take your Randist philosophy to some remote island in the Caribbean and let the rest of us have the country that we want, where the government sides with the middle class and makes certain that the wealthy don't do the wholesale looting of the treasury that was allowed to happen under Bush's watch.
Of all the options available to Romney for Vice Presidents, I was most worried that he would've picked Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. Though Rubio has some major baggage, he was likely to help Romney among Hispanic and Florida voters. I'm glad that he went with Paul Ryan, though, because there is much in Ryan's budget plan that would scare any rational thinking person from voting for them. Their plan to privatize Social Security and gut Medicare with a voucher plan is the most cynical snakeoil I've ever seen a political party propose. After the crash of the economy in 2008, I remember hearing many people say with relief that they were glad that Bush's plan to privatize Social Security had failed, otherwise their retirement money would have been evaporated (and the Baby Boomers are retiring now, with more and more each year for the next decade).
Paul Ryan strikes me as the kind of guy who sold his soul to Satan. Sure he has the "boy next door" / Boy Scout earnestness look about him, but that's all just a distraction for the ugly politics he peddles on the public. He is the epitome of the old warning that just because someone looks really good on the outside doesn't mean that there's no ugly demon on the inside. Paul Ryan is the Ted Bundy of the political world. Don't say you haven't been warned!