Shades of ‘Atlas Shrugged’ in Real Life

February 11, 2020 Updated: February 11, 2020
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Commentary

Sometimes, life really does imitate art. Recent actions by certain members of the Democratic Party remind me of scenes in Ayn Rand’s most famous novel, “Atlas Shrugged.”

Take the impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives two months ago. It was as blatantly a kangaroo court as Hank Rearden’s trial in “Atlas.” Rearden had zero chance of being found “not guilty.” Same with President Donald Trump.

I mean, what chance did he have of not being impeached when the Democrats refused to identify the accuser, denied the accused’s right to have counsel cross-examine prosecution witnesses, and didn’t allow any witnesses to testify for the defendant? The good news is that Trump, like Rearden, gained public sympathy, because fair-minded people could see that the whole thing was rigged.

Then there was Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s petulant, childish gesture of ripping up her copy of the State of the Union address on national television. It reminded me of when Mr. Thompson, the head of state in “Atlas Shrugged,” said after hearing John Galt’s three-hour radio address to the nation, “It wasn’t real, was it?”

Like Thompson, Pelosi had a desperate desire to deny reality. Sorry, ma’am. Trump connected with the American people and gave them a positive, hopeful message they could believe in. He really did succeed in making the case that the United States of America is getting along quite well without the Pelosi gang in charge.

The bad news for us citizens is that, just as in Rand’s novel, the power-mad progressives are clinging steadfastly to their failed policies. They remain on automatic pilot, consumed by the sole thought of augmenting their power. They believe they’re entitled to rule over others, no matter how destructive their policies have been.

Socialists are, at heart, elitists. Frederic Bastiat, in his timeless essay “The Law,” wrote that “… socialist[s] … look upon people in the same manner that the gardener views his trees” (i.e., to be pruned and shaped) and, “The relationship between persons and the legislator appears to be the same as the relationship between the clay and the potter.”

Once again, thanks to Pelosi, Schiff, Nadler, Schumer, et al., we can see vividly the outward evidence of the three meta-errors of progressivism—unlimited faith in government, fanatical faith in the power of will, and an overbearing sense of self-importance and self-idolization stemming from an unshakable self-righteousness.

The inevitable outcome of such inflated hubris is an inability to respect those who favor different policies, even when those policies have been shown to lead to better conditions for more people. It leads to a dictatorial impulse that disregards the rights of others and views others as lesser beings.

I’ll cite just three examples of this tendency, and you can supplement them with examples that you have encountered in your own experience.

First, Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), the chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, has asked Google CEO Sundar Pichai to censor videos she doesn’t like from Google subsidiary YouTube. Specifically, she wants YouTube to ban videos that question the climate change establishment’s guesstimates of future climate. She even hinted at taking unspecified steps to essentially re-educate viewers who might have seen a dissident opinion.

To advocate censorship and suggest indoctrination is Orwellian tyranny, pushed by a woman who has our minds made up for us, and doesn’t want us to consider the possibility that—in light of “over 440 scientific papers published in 2019 [that] support a skeptical position on climate alarm”—she could be spectacularly wrong.

A second example of the progressives’ elitist mindset comes from Virginia, where Democrats won control of the Virginia General Assembly last November. They’ve already passed gun control legislation that would prohibit all non-law enforcement personnel from bearing arms in the state capital. Oh, by the way—the provisions of this law won’t apply to the legislators themselves. (One set of rules for the rulers, another for the ruled. Hmm, that doesn’t sound very American to me.)

A third example of elitists’ contempt for the rights of citizens is brewing in both the state legislature in Virginia and in Congress in Washington. Now, we know from observing the Democrats during the impeachment melodrama that they abhor political self-dealing, right? Uh, not exactly.

What would you think of a law that compelled citizens to donate to the political candidates of a certain party, even if they are members of the opposite party? That doesn’t seem fair, does it. Well, Virginia’s Democratic legislators have been licking their chops at the prospect of repealing the commonwealth’s right-to-work law, and now, Pelosi’s House of Representatives has beaten them to the punch by actually passing the PRO Act.

These bills compel employees of a unionized workplace to pay union dues as a condition of keeping their jobs. Unions, of course, are very active politically and, according to numbers tabulated by opensecrets.org, they overwhelmingly donate to Democratic candidates and progressive political causes.

Now, imagine the howls of protest if Trump were pushing for a law that would channel money through a friendly intermediary into his own campaign coffers. People would quite rightly erupt at the injustice of it all. But the mainstream media seem strangely unconcerned by the Democrats’ blatant power play. Apparently, it’s fine for progressives to impose a virtual tax on workers to finance their election campaigns.

(By the way, there are supposed to be legal protections that allow union members to prevent their dues from being used for political purposes if they object, but unions frequently ignore these protections. If you’ve never heard of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, they do great work defending the rights of workers.)

Rand called progressives “looters,” because they take what isn’t theirs. Today’s progressives, like Rand’s looters, specialize in bullying others and trampling their rights, as can be seen from the examples cited above. Unfortunately, many Americans are willing to ally themselves with bullies as long as the bullies give them a piece of the action.

Unfortunately, that road leads to Rand’s dystopian vision—economic destruction and the burial of the American republic.

Mark Hendrickson, an economist, recently retired from the faculty of Grove City College, where he remains a fellow for economic and social policy at the Institute for Faith and Freedom.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.