House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Monday accused Republicans of following author Ayn Rand’s advice that “compromise is always evil,” and warned that letting Republicans take over Congress would only lead to more gridlock and partisanship.
Hoyer delivered a speech in Washington in which he asked voters to elect Democrats who would work with President Barack Obama — instead of Republicans, who he said oppose “anything President Obama presents.” Hoyer accused House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and others as following Rand’s teachings when it comes to operating Congress.
“Atlas Shrugged, the Ayn Rand novel that Paul Ryan often cites as inspiration for the ideology he and other House Republicans share, says this about Congress,” Hoyer said. “There are two sides to every issue. One is right, and one is wrong. But the middle is always evil.”
“Compromise is not evil,” Hoyer said. “It is the necessary and noble pursuit of those who govern responsibly in a democracy. We listen to one another. We come to an agreement.”
Hoyer spoke just weeks before a mid-term elections that could lead to even more Republicans in the House and a possible GOP takeover of the Senate. When asked how that might change Washington, Hoyer said it would lead to an even less-productive Congress.
“I think we’d see exactly what the American public abhor,” he said. “More gridlock, more confrontation, more partisanship.”
“My urging to the American people would be, elect people who are going to work with, cooperate with the president of the United States,” he added. And he again warned that Republicans are following the prescription offered by Ayn Rand.
“Remember Atlas Shrugged,” he said. “Ayn Rand said compromising, or the middle, is evil. If you believe that, if you believe it is simply my way or the highway, or my way or no way, then you will get the gridlock and confrontation the American people hate.”
While Hoyer seemed to be accusing Republicans of using Atlas Shrugged as a way to justify non-cooperation with Obama, Paul and other Republicans in Congress have often cited the book as reminder of the importance of individual freedom.
Last year, for example, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) cited as passage from the book that said people need to judge right and wrong and have the courage to act on it, and said Senate Democrats fell short of that ideal when they supported ObamaCare.
But those citations have led to Democratic criticisms of Ayn Rand as offering a prescription that doesn’t fit the real world.
“I say to my friends in the right conservative circles, put down those Ayn Rand books for a minute and take a look at the real world and listen to some real economists too,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said in January.
Rand wrote the following in Atlas Shrugged:
“There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil. The man who is wrong still retains some respect for truth, if only by accepting the responsibility of choice. But the man in the middle is the knave who blanks out the truth in order to pretend that no choice or values exist, who is willing to sit out the course of any battle, willing to cash in on the blood of the innocent or to crawl on his belly to the guilty, who dispenses justice by condemning both the robber and the robbed to jail, who solves conflicts by ordering the thinker and the fool to meet each other halfway. In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit. In that transfusion of blood which drains the good to feed the evil, the compromise is the transmitting rubber tube.”