When They Were Students

From the department of Back When They Were in College comes news that Republican politician and weirdo libertarian Rand Paul was once a big devotee of Ayn Rand. According to an article by Greg Sargent in the Washington Post:

In a 1982 Op ed Paul published in [his college] paper, he wrote worshipfully about the “immortal words” of Howard Roark, the hero of Ayn Rand’s novel “The Fountainhead”:

The new world man crawls on all fours, submits, acquiesces and seeks the security of the mindless mob of mediocrity.

Such are the masses that cower before knowledge, that condemn science, and seek to become one with the inanimate earth. This subspecie of man rises from among us, consolidated in their hatred of achievement, and their fear of the unknown…Their defeat, however, is still possible if the few who still possess originality, those men who still dare to think, speak out and show the mob the reflection of their premises, the impotence of the conclusions, and the lifelessness of their entire ideology.

Whoa. Well that’s an interesting opinion.

As I’ve pointed out before, worrying too much about this sort of thing is kind of unfair. College was a long time ago. In 1982 I was a baby. Paul was a 19-year-old sophomore at Baylor University. Paul has changed since then. As one college friend explained, “Randy smoked pot, he made fun of Baptists, none of us ever heard him pontificating about religion.” Oh look how far he’s come.

That’s the thing. Rand Paul’s actual current political views are fanatical and bizarre. Ayn Rand in 1982 hardly makes him less legitimate.

In fact, it should be no surprise that Paul was an Ayn Rand aficionado as an adolescent. He’d hardly be a valid conservative without that in his background.

Incidentally, for more charming news about the college careers of the currently famous, check out the short story Wes Anderson wrote for the literary journal of the University of Texas back in 1989. It’s rather charming.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer