Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

Objectivists for Democrats

Posted by Jerry on October 31, 2006

I have not yet come across anyone who mistook Rand for a democrat, although many have labelled her a conservative and aligned her with the right.

Of course, she was neither–and vehemently rejected either of those labels.

Hence, it might be strange and confounding for those not very familiar with Objectivism to learn that many prominent Objectivists–including the intellectual heir of Ayn Rand, Leonard Peikoff–will be voting for the Democrats this upcoming election in the US! In fact, Peikoff insists that one must vote for the Democrats consistently at all levels.

Here is Peikoff’s statement in full:

How you cast your vote in the coming election is important, even if the two parties are both rotten. In essence, the Democrats stand for socialism, or at least some ambling steps in its direction; the Republicans stand for religion, particularly evangelical Christianity, and are taking ambitious strides to give it political power.
Socialism, a fad of the last few centuries, has had its day; it has been almost universally rejected for decades. Leftists are no longer the passionate collectivists of the 30s, but usually avowed anti-ideologists, who bewail the futility of all systems.

Religion, by contrast, the destroyer of man since time immemorial, is not fading; on the contrary, it is now the only philosophic movement rapidly and righteously rising to take over the government.
Given the choice between a rotten, enfeebled, despairing killer, and a rotten, ever stronger, and ambitious killer, it is immoral to vote for the latter, and equally immoral to refrain from voting at all because both are bad.
The survival of this country will not be determined by the degree to which the government, simply by inertia, imposes taxes, entitlements, controls, etc., although such impositions will be harmful (and all of them and worse will be embraced or pioneered by conservatives, as Bush has shown). What does determine the survival of this country is not political concretes, but fundamental philosophy. And in this area the only real threat to the country now, the only political evil comparable to or even greater than the threat once posed by Soviet Communism, is religion and the Party which is its home and sponsor.
The most urgent political task now is to topple the Republicans from power, if possible in the House and the Senate. This entails voting consistently Democratic, even if the opponent is a “good” Republican.
In my judgment, anyone who votes Republican or abstains from voting in this election has no understanding of the practical role of philosophy in man’s actual life, which means that he does not understand the philosophy of Objectivism, except perhaps as a rationalistic system detached from the world.
If you hate the Left so much that you feel more comfortable with the Right, you are unwittingly helping to push the U.S. toward disaster, i.e., theocracy, not in 50 years, but, frighteningly, much sooner.

Now, regardless of my personal opinions in response to Peikoff’s statement, what I wish to highlight here is the committment of Objectivists–those who actually understand and have properly integrated the philosophy–to context and reality. This is a great example of the explicit rejection of an intrinsicist position–in this case, that one never should vote for the Democrats or that voting for the Republicans is always a lesser evil.

Evidently, Peikoff’s statement–the decision to vote Democrat in this election–has given rise to a massive furor among Objectivist across the globe, and the discussion is raging on several Objectivist blogs and forums. Objectivists are debating fiercely about the evidence and principles on all the relevant positions in this election. To me, this is a wonderful validation of the philosophy’s committment to comprehending reality through reason and evidence. Some have openly objected to Peikoff’s statement and have decided to vote in variance to his position because that is what their exercise in rationality honestly leads them to. Others are deciding to vote for the Democrats not because Peikoff said so (though there may be some like that, I cannot deny with certainty) but because they too exercise their rationality within the context of reality.

This is an example of Objectivist benevolence–disagreeing benevolently and honestly, yet committed to the same fundamental principles. I am proud to be an Objectivist and proud to share an intellectual comraderie with other fellow Objectivists! 🙂

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8 Responses to “Objectivists for Democrats”

  1. mauser said

    “This is a great example of the explicit rejection of an intrinsicist position”

    ~why isn’t the stated belief that you should “always vote democrate”
    also an intrinsicist position?~

  2. Ergo said

    Of course that, too, would be an intrinsicist position. But, is that what you’re asking? I’m not clear what your question is because I assume it is plainly evident from my post that any such position that disregards context, reason, and reality would be intrincist.

  3. Wolfgang said

    Sorry for changing the topic, but I found that very intersting: White, too white. A Portrait of Albinism in India. http://www.galeriehilanehvonkories.de/gallery.html (English version available)

  4. david said

    Very good essay. I agree that Objectivists should not – can not – hew to any particular party for “party” sake. In my case, the Republicans have the better record on the single most important subject – national defense – and the Dems consistently flip, flop, and fumble on the issue. In other elections, the Dems defense of anti-religious freedom might be paramount — but in this election, the Republicans have my support.

  5. Eugen Ulirsch said

    Of course I am going to vote for Obama. Theocracy is a very real threat. In America it will
    be a form of religous facism with a ruling oligarchy and the plebs. Better to have some
    honest and intellignet socalists than the lying scum that call themselves “compassonate
    conservatives”.

    P.S. Live next to a university campus, in a few years you´ll have a degree.

  6. Brian said

    Eugen: I think the threat you describe is over. A similar threat that looms ahead, as seen by Democratic appeal to religion during the DNC, is the marriage of religion to environmentalism – ie, the inevitable combination of “This land should be protected” with “This land is sacred, it is God’s land.”

    “Better to have some honest and intellignet socalists than the lying scum that call themselves “compassonate conservatives”.”

    First, I think “intelligent socialists” is an oxymoron, at least when it comes to knowledge of the economy. Second, I don’t see a difference between socialists and compassionate conservatives. One candidate promises to hold a shotgun to your head, the other promises to let you choose which brand of shotgun to use.

  7. Eugen said

    Brian: Our current problem is theocrcy, the base is larger and more organized. Environmentalism as a secular religion is a problem which has to be watched but thier time is not ripe.

    The conservatives present a much greater present danger. They have lied to us all, they use fear as a weapon, they have abridged basic freedoms, cultivated a shamless cronie capitalism ( fascism ), miss-used our troops & eroded the standing of the US. And now an old,
    erratic, and sick man wants to continue in this direction. Watch McCain with to sound on. He is no longer all there. Thus…Palin
    I’d like a bumper sticker: Impale Palin

  8. Jack said

    But you guys are fundamentally wrong. Mr Greenspan himself says so. Perhaps playing Bioshock might help. So even if you wanted to built smokestacks to ze moon, there ain’t no credit left to fund it, muahahaha.

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