The race for the White House is in full steam. At this stage the polls are not overwhelmingly favoring anyone but the Republicans are in a jubilant mood.
They have a nominee for the President and he has a running mate who has some admiration for the founder of the philosophy objectivism.
When selecting the running mate, careful checks would have been made about the person’s background and his philosophy. As such, the Republicans would have known about the admiration by the running mate for Ayn Rand. They may have even deliberately selected the individual because of this fact even though he has said that he rejects the philosophy of objectivism. The tag will be hard to lose.
Objectivism had its heyday in the seventies and early eighties when the Russians seemed to have been getting the better of the Cold War and a philosophical approach was needed to bolster the arguments in favor of a system that favored the free will of individuals, and which balked at collectivism.
Objectivism was in direct opposition to collectivism. As such it was tailor-made for the capitalist system since it emphasized the encouragement of the individual and deemphasized the collective good.
Objectivism was therefore consistent with capitalism. It held that early man’s ability to survive his harsh physical environment depended on the use of his wits. Man’s mind was his only weapon. Through the use of his mind, man was able to develop the means to survive and subsequently to have the better of nature.
Man used his mind to develop the means to survive. Behind every great invention stood the individual. In other words, it is individual geniuses that created the inventions that have allowed mankind to progress. In fact, some objectivists go as far as contenting that every single invention that has brought about human progress was the product of human individuality and the power of the mind and every single invention was initially opposed or looked upon with suspicion and reservation by society.
Since objectivism holds that it is the human intellect that is responsible for all the great achievements of man, objectivism promotes individual liberty unhindered from external influences such as religion and those ideologies that promoted the collective good.
Objectivism rejects collectivism and argues that persons should pursue their own self interest rather than be tied down with acting in the interests of others.
From this basis, it is easy to see how objectivism can be naturally associated with the spirit of capitalism. It celebrates meritocracy and argues for the pursuit of the individual good, not unlike capitalism which urges the pursuit of the private good.
Objectivism has now gone out of fashion and it is not likely to be resurrected. It is not even likely to be an issue in this year’s election but one can see the outlines of the campaign strategy by the Republicans who will contrast their own candidate’s outlook with that of the sitting president who some had described as being a socialist.
In short the Republican strategy will be about asking the American people whether they wanted a collectivist president or someone who believes in the system upon which their great nation was built, individual freedom.
The Republicans will campaign in these last months before the elections on the basis that what is needed to restore the American economy is support for the spirit of capitalism or in other words support for big business. What is not needed, they will urge, are measures that will divert important resources towards welfare goals that are not productive.
In short they will argue that the emphasis on social welfare which the Democrats will likely campaign on conflicts with the inherent nature of capitalism which is to promote private good because it is only through the promotion of private good that American will once again emerge as a great nation.
Obama’s traditional strategy and the one that won him the election four years ago was to try to embrace positions that found the greatest support. He may once again go for a strategy of supporting those things that have the greatest support amongst the American people. In other words, it will be the typical middle-of-the-road strategy.
Unfortunately this will not work even though the Democrats are likely to rally once again behind him. He will find it a tough job to be reelected to the presidency.
Some will argue that given the problems that he inherited, these problems could not be fixed in one term. No one can dispute this fact. Obama was saddled with finding a solution to America’s worst crisis, one that had global effects. He was saddled with foreign wars which he did not launch and which he did not end immediately. And then out of nowhere his foreign policy priorities shifted because of unexpected developments in the Middle East.
The American people will be conscious that Obama was faced with great difficulties. The will applaud his revolutionary health care bill. But they also would have expected more and better from him.
They had expected him to be far less cautious and to be more aggressive on the economic front. That he was timid economically cost him the mid-term Congressional elections and this was an effective vote of no-confidence.
He will not recover from that loss. Middle of the road policies has not saved him and will not save him. His goose is already cooked. He will be a one term president.
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