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Ayn Rand on Ronald Reagan

In a Facebook thread, that raised the issue of Rand's opposition to Ronald Reagan's 1980 presidential bid, because of his views on abortion and his courting of the Religious Right, I mentioned the fact that Rand was not always opposed to Reagan, and that she initially saw him as a promising public figure. Here is my Facebook post:

Granted Rand's later views of Ronald Reagan, beacuse of his entanglements with the religious right, she initially had high hopes for him, starting with his famous "Rendezvous with Destiny" speech in support of the Goldwater presidential bid of 1964. In The Objectivist Newsletter essay, "It is Earlier Than You Think," she wrote an obituary for the Goldwater campaign:
Granting the philosophical chaos of our age, was it possible to conduct a better campaign in purely political terms, and did we have a right to expect it? It was and we did. A brief glimpse of it, the best of the campaign, was a speech by Ronald Reagan, televized much too late---in the last week before the election. All of the candidate's speeches should have been on a level equal to Mr. Reagan's. But none of them approached it. It is impossible to tell whether a campaign conducted on that level would have won. I think it might have. But what one can say with certainty is that it would not have ended in so devastating a defeat.
Rand was unsparing in her criticisms of some of the dynamics that she believed brought the Goldwater campaign down to defeat:
As it stands, the most grotesque, irrational and disgraceful consequence of the campaign is the fact that the only section of the country left in a position of an alleged champion of freedom, capitalism, and individual rights is the agrarian, feudal, racist South. The Southerners, undoubtedly, were voting on the basis of "tradition"; but it was hardly a tradition of pro-capitalism. This, perhaps, is the clearest indication of the extent to which Sen. Goldwater had failed to present his case.
So Rand was not always adamantly opposed to Reagan; in fact, in an essay she wrote in 1967, she went on to reflect on that 1964 speech that Reagan had given and, in "The Wreckage of the Consensus", she stated:
The country at large is bitterly dissatisfied with the status quo, disillusioned with the stale slogans of welfare statism, and desperately seeking an alternative, i.e., an intelligible program and course. The intensity of that need may be gauged by the fact that a single good speech raised a man, who had never held public office, to the governorship of California. The statists of both parties, who are now busy smearing Governor Reagan, are anxious not to see and not to let others discover the real lesson and meaning of his election: that the country is starved for a voice of consistency, clarity, and moral self-confidence---which were the outstanding qualities of his famous speech, and which cannot be achieved or projected by consensus-seeking anti-ideologists.
As of this date, Governor Reagan seems to be a promising figure---I do not know him and cannot speak for the future. It is difficult to avoid a certain degree of skepticism: we have been disappointed too often. But whether he lives up to the promise or not, the people's need, quest for, and response to clear-cut ideas remain a fact---and will become a tragic fact if the intellectual leaders of this country continue to ignore it.
Evidently, with Reagan's courting of the Religious Right in order to win the 1980 Presidential election, Rand's hopes had been sunk. But she was clearly someone who thought Reagan a promising political figure.

Postscript: On 16 July 2017, I added a comment to the Facebook thread concerning an essay written by Ed Hudgins, which appears on the site of The Atlas Society: "Was Ayn Rand Wrong on Reagan." Here are my follow-up comments:

Very good and provocative article, Ed; it's a hard call to make.
Ironically, one thing I'm not sure she would have been comfortable with was Reagan's naming of Greenspan to the chairmanship of the Fed (even though she was at the ceremony when Ford named Greenspan Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers). Considering that Greenspan had once argued against the Fed's very existence, in "The Objectivist" and that Rand was fundamentally opposed to central banking as the source of the boom-bust cycle, I'm not sure how she would have evaluated Greenspan or Reagan with regard to his promotion; she was certainly very savvy about how government institutions corrupt even the most idealistic among us.
But then again, she was an "anti-Nixonite for Nixon," and it was Martin Anderson and others who persuaded Nixon to end the draft, which Rand viewed as involuntary servitude. So her stance on Reagan may have evolved; it's a difficult call.
And yes, Ludwig, there was a serious strain of Nietzschean Marxism in the Silver Age period of Russian culture, into which Rand was born. Nietzsche's influence on many schools of thought in that period is the subject of many books written and edited by historian Bernice Rosenthal. A very interesting period in Russian intellectual history, indeed.

In a follow-up to Ed Hudgins's comments on some of the policies of Nixon, Carter, and Trump, I discussed Rand's attitudes toward Nixon and Greenspan:

You're correct, of course [that Nixon expanded government; Carter de-regulated some agencies; and Trump's record is mixed thus far]; and Rand, as I recall, in quite a few essays that appeared in her "Ayn Rand Letter" relentlessly criticized Nixon on his wage and price controls and the entire Watergate scandal, which she saw as an outgrowth of any system that "mixed" elements of a market economy and statism.
On the Greenspan phenomenon, I discussed some of the issues (in the paragraph beginning: "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was a gentleman named Alan") in this Notablog post: "The New Age of Rand? Ha!"