Thursday, April 21, 2011


Is ideology a function of personality?

I was thinking about this while looking at a large poster in Philadelphia advertising a debate between Karl Rove and Howard Dean. I’d judge from the photos that in high school, Rove was a typical brainy chess-playing nerd, while grinning thick-necked and blandly handsome Dean was the go-getter class president type.

The one style will get ahead by quietly mastering information and numbers. Not being well-liked is a given. For the liberal, Dean style, being liked is everything. The good guy savior.

Does this distinction hold across the board between conservative and liberal? Are there other examples? Richard Nixon versus JFK? Paul Ryan opposed to President Obama?

One can apply this to the fans and haters of Ayn Rand. Rand was an extremist—but there’s an everpresent appeal in her stories and ideas to the intellect. Wanting to be liked? Rand was in-your-face on purpose with phrases like “the virtue of selfishness.” Agree with her or not, her books are a challenge—a thrown down gauntlet. It’s undeniable that on the big picture question of her time, the U.S.A. versus the Soviet Union—societies she knew intimately—if not on the details, Ayn Rand was right.

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