Missing The ObviousBy
Mention the sorry state of American democracy to right-wingers and they often patronizingly lecture that the U.S. is not a democracy — it’s a republic. True, that. So?
It finally dawned on me that this is a corollary to their “Democrat Party” phrasing. Democracy and democratic have positive cultural connotations — which the right wing means to snatch from competitors the way schoolyard bullies steal lunch money. They cannot allow people to call America a democracy; it’s a republic, you know, like Republican . Get it?
It’s a sophisticated message, really, one designed to appeal to the average 8th grader — just like Ayn Rand’s novels.
Maybe that’s how I missed it for so long.
Speaking of Ayn Rand and grade school,
John Allison, a former bank CEO and a leader of the Rand movement, has just become president of the Cato Institute, the oldest and most influential libertarian think tank. This received only a modest amount of attention when it surfaced late last month, and you had to be a real political junkie to even be aware of it. But it is a seminal event in recent political history—a dramatic indication of the mainstreaming of the radical right.
Allison, former CEO of North Carolina’s BB&T Bank, is not just going to be the Cato Institute’s sugar daddy. He replaces Ed Crane as president, meaning that he will have day-to-day control over the most significant libertarian organization in the country. Allison is a board member of the Ayn Rand Institute, the orthodox, no-compromise Randian organization, and is best known for his foundation donating free Rand books to thousands of schoolchildren across the nation—a crass exploitation of the fiscal troubles besetting primary schools.