Paul Ryan on 'Minorities': 'Victimhood Has Gotten Them Nothing'

For 'minorities,' government programs such as Social Security and Medicare are 'in their worst interests,' making them a part of 'a victimization class,' Ryan told Ayn Rand devotees.

Paul Ryan at an August 2012 event in High Point, N.C.
Photo Credit: © Jenny Warburg

When Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney found himself in hot water for saying that nearly half of the American people "think of themselves as victims," his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, ran as far as he could from Romney's now-famous remarks about the 47 percent who avail themselves of government programs, or who pay no income taxes because of their low income status -- remarks the candidate never expected to see the light of day, recorded as they were at a closed-to-the-press fundraising gathering in Boca Raton, Fla., and exposed by Mother Jones.

Romney, said Ryan, was
"inarticulate" in his comments. But Ryan, it seems, has his own thoughts about government programs and victim status, quite articulately stated. In his 2005 remarks to the Atlas Society, a group of Ayn Rand devotees based in Washington, D.C., Ryan painted Democratic politicians as "collectivists" who seek to create a "victimization class." In fact, all of Washington's major battles, Ryan says, are essentially a contest between collectivism and individualism. 
In the audio recording of his remarks, Ryan makes clear who he sees in that dreaded "class" -- "minorities." After a discussion of the major "collectivist" programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, Ryan says he wants to privatize by converting them to "personal accounts," Ryan is asked by Ed Hudgins, the Atlas Society's director of advocacy, about the impact of Rand's doctrine about "the sanction of the victim" as a political tool. 
Ryan replies by explaining that he's trying to get "minority legislators" to sign on to his privatization scheme. "I always try to to show how victimhood has gotten them nothing," Ryan says, "how freeing people produces great results." From what does he seek to free them? The shackles of Social Security, of course!
My transcript of that bit of audio, posted on the Atlas Society Web site, appears below. (For some reason, this is not among the transcribed quotes from the audio featured by the Atlas Society.) Here's the audio snip.
ED HUDGINS: Were there particular Randian arguments that you find really have resonance on Capitol Hill -- that when you pull them out, people go, 'Oh,' or -- things like "the sanction of the victim" or particular things that you find effective. Because we're always trying to discover what's the most effective ammunition we have in our quiver -- in other words, we know that certain arguments might work on certain people, others might work on other people -- so we're always looking for where are our strengths that we can build on when we make arguments.
PAUL RYAN: That's a good question. I think the victimization argument. I think that fact that collectivists speak down to people as victims is not only an arrogant thing to do, but it produces poor results. So backing up this victimization class that collectivists try to produce, and showing the folks they're trying to convince that this is not only in their best interest -- in their worst interest -- that, um, it's not dignifying, and it's arrogant, and that seems to work. 
We're trying to recruit a lot of minority legislators to work with us on on personal accounts, because it's, of all things, in their best interests. Right now, we're trying to fight party bosses from the Democrats who are really insisting on everybody's toeing the line. So that's the biggest fight.
As far as individualism, it's just the results. Just look at the data, look at the numbers, look at what we produce. The more liberal your economy is, the more free our economy is, the better we grow and the more we prosper. So we have to use results and we have to use data and evidence, which is clearly on our side to do this, and undergirded by these principles. But that's what I do. I always try to to show how victimhood has gotten them nothing, how freeing people produces great results.
AlterNet / By Adele M. Stan

Posted at September 21, 2012, 2:33pm

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