For decades now, a great boxing match has been shaping up on the political Right... a bout that could easily rival Ali vs. Frasier, or Leonard vs. Hearns, or De La Hoya vs. Mayweather. Fighting out of the red corner, and dead for nearly thirty years, Conservative ideological writer and boring high school English class subject Ayn Rand. Fighting out of the blue corner, and dead for nearly two-thousand years, the man who has one of the world's largest religious franchises named after him and the only person whose name is also an expletive, Jesus Christ. What would you give to hear Michael Buffer put his trademark spin on that? Anyway, these two ideological heavyweights have been in a brawl over who will dominate the Conservative platform. Will Ayn Rand's message of greed and absolute self-reliance seize the day? Or will Jesus' message of peace, love, and caring for the poor take home the belt? Because contrary to what some Conservatives would like you to believe, it really does need to be one or the other. As Christopher Lambert might put it, There can be only one.
Ayn Rand's self-titled "Objectivism" theories promote the idea that the only moral responsibility anyone has is to look out for their own best interests; to state her ideas in the simplest form possible, she believed everyone needs to look out for themselves, and can't be bothered helping others. Conservatism really grabbed Ayn Rand's message by the horns in the late 1970's and early 1980's, as big tent politics, trickle-down economic theory, and the Right's fervent defense of corporate interests started genuinely taking their contemporary forms. It's difficult to believe that this atheist figure could be so beloved by many on the Right, especially with so many modern Conservatives identifying themselves as Christians, but Conservatives weren't always in love with Ayn Rand. In fact, The National Review's conservative writer Whittaker Chambers once called her most popular novel, Atlas Shrugged, "remarkably silly" and "sophomoric," going so far as to paint her as a Communist (at least that hasn't changed over the years, eh?).
Meanwhile, you have Conservatives laying claim to Jesus Christ, and the stark and numerous contrasts between his beliefs and those of Rand are shockingly pronounced. Christ's message was one of loving your neighbor. Of abandoning the pursuit of private wealth in the hopes of helping to elevate those around you. He believed that the wealthier a person was, the less likely they were to get into heaven, and he strongly advocated giving wealth and property away to charity for the betterment of fellow human beings. In pretty much every sense imaginable, Jesus Christ is the ideological polar opposite of Ayn Rand, and to hear a person argue in support of the beliefs of both of these figures is, as Whittaker Chambers might put it, "remarkably silly." But alas, Conservatives do it anyway.
So then, how did Conservatives come to shape half of their policies on the ideas of Ayn Rand, and the other half of their ideas on Rand's polar opposite, Jesus Christ, in a word? Campaigning. When Ronald Reagan announced his bid for the Presidency in 1979, he found a very powerful ally in the ultra-Christian political group "The Moral Majority." In fact, if it weren't for them, Reagan wouldn't have been as politically successful as he was. Meanwhile, Reagan's campaign was almost wholly paid for by Corporate lobbyists throwing around soft money like it was going out of style.
The end result? The conservative movement began to solidify on the principals of both Jesus Christ and Ayn Rand, and keeping the money and the Christian votes flowing became a full-time job for the GOP. This is why today's Conservative platform is so contradictory to itself. Most conservatives today are pro-life, with the Conservative Congress brashly shoving their anti-abortion bills "down the throats" (if I can borrow the Tea Party's phrase) of voters, but meanwhile, in the same stroke of their pen, they're fighting WIC and other government spending programs... in other words, if you get pregnant, you must have the baby, but don't expect the government to help you once that child is born. They push to get the government "off your back," saying outlandish nonsense about seat belt laws infringing on individual liberty, only to turn around and deny homosexuals the right to get married. The hypocrisy on the Right is painfully obvious to anyone who cares to look at their platform objectively, and that hypocrisy is firmly stemmed in their urgent need for both Christian Conservative ballot support and corporate campaign contributions, without both of which they'd undoubtedly lose election after election.
So then, how do Conservatives pull off this amazing contradiction without getting caught by themselves? How do they lay claim to Ayn Rand, who flatly refused the Conservative and Libertarian labels and identified herself as being pro-choice and an atheist, and then also lay claim to Jesus Christ, who championed the poor and would probably slap Ayn Rand if he weren't so... well... Christ-like? The answer is pretty simple, really. To pull off this feat, they need to try and make Ayn Rand a little more conservative than she really was, and make Jesus Christ a lot more conservative than he really was. And somewhere along that line, you end up with a pro-life Ayn Rand and an appetent, covetous Jesus Christ. But don't kid yourself on this, folks. By trying to appeal to both Rand and Christ, Conservatives are canceling out both of their belief systems, adopting instead a mucky, watered-down platform that stands somewhere between the two of them. The moral of this story is that conservatives would love to have both their Jesus Christ and Ayn Rand cakes, and eat them too. But as any serious video gamer will be very quick to tell you, the cake is a lie.