The National Journal has taken the time to analyze the number of times Ayn Rand has been mentioned in the last ten sessions of Congress. Only 23 times (here we go again – 23 enigma fans stand up) it turns out, mostly by Ron Paul and now his son Rand. The awful new Ayn Rand movie Atlas Shrugged that debuts this weekend will probably put a stop to it though!
Yesterday, Senator Rand Paul did what many saw as inevitable: he quoted at length from Ayn Rand, specifically from Anthem, during an Energy and Natural Sources committee meeting to make a point about individual will being squashed by a collective rules society. The speech got us wondering: before Paul the younger arrived to the Senate how often does Ayn Rand get mentioned in Congress?
A good measure, we thought, would be searching through the Congressional Record, which is the official record of the proceedings in the United States Congress as well as a sort of a bulletin board that legislators use to place written remarks about people they like, occasions they want to celebrate and other things they want to put in the record.
In our search of the Record from the last 10 sessions of Congress, spanning from 1993 to 2011, the libertarian hero has only been mentioned 23 times. Ayn Rand has been invoked in praise of her former book printer, Caxton Printers, and during references to her book Atlas Shrugged in arguments to eliminate the death tax in 2001 and while denouncing the National Competitiveness Act of 1993. She also gets 5 mentions by legislators who were quick to note that Alan Greenspan was once a disciple of hers (“Don’t hold that against him,” Congressman Harkin said in 2000.)
By far, though, the person most likely to mention Ayn Rand is Ron Paul, the current libertarian hero and father of the newest Senator from Kentucky, Rand. (That his son and his hero share the same name is just a happy coincidence.) He has invoked Ayn Rand’s name nine times in the span we surveyed: when criticizing the post office, while commemorating the 100th anniversary of her birth, and in an article submitted mentioning her during a tribute to Milton Friedman. And Ron Paul is notably the only member of Congress to actually quote Ayn Rand during this period…
[continues in the National Journal]
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