Now I understand...

For years I have been struggling to find the source of the modern Republican's governing philosophies and ideologies that seem so contrary to those of our founding fathers. I have often referred to the Reagan years, 37 years ago, with his "trickle down" economic strategy, as the start of the modern conservative movement leading to dysfunctional government, sharply divided between Democrats and Republicans.

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The answer appears to be in the writing and philosophies of Ayn Rand, a Russian-born American writer in the mid 20th century whose novels have become the Bible for Republican leadership-from Reagan's introduction of modern conservatism and now led by Paul Ryan and Rand Paul principally, but also include most Republican congressmen.

Paul Ryan even bought her books and distributed them to Republican members in Congress. Required reading for his staff. Trump is also on board. Look her up on Google. It's all there.

What is this philosophy? It boils down to self-interest is good, greed is a great motivator, altruism is destructive thinking. To support government "get out of the way" and let unconstrained "market driven capitalism" run its course. In Rand's view, government's role is limited to providing for the common defense and not much else. Hence, we've seen a huge increase in the defense budget coupled with tax cuts for wealthy "capitalists" and a drastic cutback in regulations enacted to protect the "people" from predatory actions of the greedy.

This is a double whammy for our deficit and rising national debt. Congress intends to pay for this charade through drastic cuts in public services such as support for public health, public education, environmental protection, financial aid for the disadvantaged, food for the starving, and healthcare for the sick. In Rand's view, these are all things that self-reliant people should proudly provide for themselves or through charitable institutions, not by the government "of the people, by the people, and for the people."

Has this philosophy worked? It has for the wealthy and corporate America, not for the working class. Unions are gone with their protections and benefits, wages have stagnated while the upper 2 percent now own 40 percent of our nation's wealth.

The Ayn Rand ideology contradicts our Constitution's goals promoting the "General Welfare" and governing for the "Common Good." As in Russia following the fall of the Soviet Union and ascension of Vladimir Putin and Russian oligarchs who now control the country, American oligarchs such as the Koch Brothers, Trump, and scores of Wall Street and corporate executives supported by the Republican-controlled Congress and conservative Supreme Court have already attacked and weakened pillars of our democracy, most notably the press and Justice Department on their target path to replacing democracy with their own form of government.

We are a long way down the path to losing the country we've built through historical efforts toward the "Common Good." Our hope to arrest this movement arises from youth reaction and actions taken after the tragic student killings in Florida, the teacher revolts erupting across the country, and the senior citizen realization and fears their retirement incomes and healthcare is in jeopardy.

The combination of youth smarts and energy supported by senior wisdom and resources should scare incumbent lawmakers and newcomers of similar beliefs and encourage all candidates, Democrat and Republican, to fight hard to save our democracy from the oligarchs. Your voice is needed this year. Vote.-Lee Purrier, Park Rapids