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Assume by some miracle people actually started to think and voted for an Objectivist president. On the day of his or her inauguration, what would he do to fix the country? Would he enact executive orders abolishing the welfare state, USPS, EPA, FDA, etc.? Certainly some government programs that really do serve a purpose can be sold privately, such as the FAA. Would the use of executive orders be appropriate for an Objectivist president?

asked Aug 30 '13 at 11:18

Collin1's gravatar image


edited Aug 30 '13 at 13:16

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

If people actually started to think and voted for an Objectivist President, presumably the makeup of Congress would soon change as well.

Executive orders would be appropriate in places where they're appropriate according to the Constitution and the statutes of the United States. Hopefully, and presumably, this Objectivist President would have a great team of lawyers on his or her staff to give advice on what can legally be done, and what has to wait until another day.

(Aug 30 '13 at 20:14) anthony anthony's gravatar image

Could the President immediately pardon everyone convicted of a tax or drug offense (or any of a number of other similar offenses)? I don't know the answer to that. Presumably the President's legal team would.

(Aug 30 '13 at 20:15) anthony anthony's gravatar image

The full statement of this question pertains to a time span of one day, inauguration day. However, the headline form of the question has an unspecified and potentially much longer timespan, and that is how I would like to answer the question.

According to Ayn Rand's brief article, "About a Woman President" (VOR Chap. 26), Ayn Rand answered this question in an article in the January 1968 issue of McCall's magazine. I have not seen the McCall's article myself, so I do not know if my comments below are consistent with it or not. I would be interested to know what the McCall's article says, if anyone else has seen it. More information about McCall's can be found under that topic in Wikipedia, and back issues of the printed magazine are also available for purchase on-line (link). The link says that this particular article by Ayn Rand has never been published anywhere else.

An Objectivist president (in my understanding) would work to implement Objectivist political principles. Some of the key concepts that comprise the Objectivist politics include individual rights, laissez faire capitalism, three proper functions of government, government as man's agent of retaliatory physical force (never initiating physical force), and separation of state and economics in the same way as the separation of state and church (and for the same reasons). Here are some additional aspects of these essential political concepts:

  • Adopting a foreign policy that protects America's valid interests abroad; acting decisively against foreign aggressors who threaten America and America's rightful interests around the world, and retaliating against foreign nations that give aid and comfort to international terrorists who threaten America and/or American interests.

  • Deciding whether and when to act against "outlaw nations" abroad on the basis of America's national self-interests, rejecting any form of altruism in American foreign policy (especially reversing any policy of trying to act as a "world policeman" where no clear national interests of Americans are at stake).

  • Ending government grants and subsidies, especially to the social sciences. Elimination of all governmental foreign aid, both military and non-military. (Military assistance to allies would probably be subject to mutual defense treaties with the key allies.)

  • Over time, privatizing all current governmental functions (with elements of physical force thoroughly removed) except the minimum essentials of a proper government. (The three proper functions are the police, the military, and the law courts.)

  • As a last step in a process of reform, transitioning to a voluntary system of government financing; abolishing mandatory taxation.

As the question seems to acknowledge, an Objectivist president probably could never come into office without substantial support for Objectivism and an Objectivist political agenda among the general population, along with influential intellectual voices in support of Objectivism. The public would need to know what an Objectivist agenda would consist of, and would want to elect a candidate who would implement it. It will take a long time, if ever, for our country to become "ripe" for a transition to a comprehensive Objectivist agenda. Mysticism, altruism and statism are deeply entrenched, especially among intellectuals, and Leonard Peikoff argues in The DIM Hypothesis that it might already be too late to reverse the current trend from "D1/D2" to "M2."

It may not be possible to accomplish an Objectivist agenda in a single four-year or eight-year term of office, but an Objectivist president backed by the American people (probably also with strong support in the Congress) could at least make a major start on it and certainly stop the opposite trend toward ever increasing statism that exists today.

None of these reforms could even begin to occur, however, without a general public that understands what the Objectivists want to do and why. And it could not be done by any form of trickery on the public, such as a candidate professing statist beliefs in order to get elected, then suddenly switching to the exact opposite after getting elected. Any candidate who tried to do that probably wouldn't get past the "vetting" process involved in running for office and getting elected, and would be quickly impeached if he somehow fooled everyone into electing him before springing his "hidden agenda" on them. There are no shortcuts in cultural trends and their intellectual causes. But once the intellectual causes take root and win broad popular support, the resulting rate of progress in bringing about cultural change could be quite swift in the timespan of historical eras.

answered Sep 04 '13 at 18:47

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

edited Sep 04 '13 at 18:51

Leonard Peikoff argues in The DIM Hypothesis that it might already be too late to reverse the current trend from "D1/D2" to "M2."

As in reversing the trend may be metaphysically impossible?

(Sep 04 '13 at 19:28) anthony anthony's gravatar image

I think what Dr. Peikoff is arguing is that the evidence is very strong but not quite conclusive that our situation is hopeless, and that it will take a Herculean effort by voices of reason to begin to reverse it, if it isn't already too late. I must also hasten to add that I'm still studying the last two chapters of the book and haven't quite completed my note-taking process on them.

(Sep 04 '13 at 19:40) Ideas for Life ♦ Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

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Asked: Aug 30 '13 at 11:18

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Last updated: Sep 04 '13 at 19:40