Jack and David are members of the Junior State of America (JSA), a student-run political awareness organization for high school students.
Let's play Jeopardy.
A banker by profession, this man spent his life making risky investments in fledgling enterprises. Famous for his business success, many critics labeled him "Midas," because everything he touched turned to gold.
Correct Answer: Who is Michael Mulligan?
A career bureaucrat, this man spent his life in politics, creating government regulations in order to promote the common good. When crisis hit the economy, he used it as justification to give himself more power, because he believed this was the only way to save his country from sure-fire disaster.
Correct Answer: Who is Wesley Mouch?
This year's election, when boiled down to the basics, was no more complicated than the election between Mr. Mulligan and Mr. Mouch, two crucial characters in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, a book whose movie adaptation has hit theatres across the country during this election season.
The parallel between the moral choice presented by Rand and the political choice we are faced with today is at the very least eerie, and at most, unprecedented in American history.
Barak Obama assumed his presidency in the midst of an economic crisis. In such trying circumstances, he told the American people that the only way to get out of their economic crisis was to give more power to the government. Government would fix the problem. With the support of the American people, he spent our country into the abyss, increasing the national debt, and hurting small business with overbearing regulations that may have prevented job growth. With unemployment still at 7.8 percent, he continues to blame the rich for not paying their fair share, and argues that if he could only expand government further, that would solve our problems.
The parallel with Wesley Mouch, the economic czar in Rand's novel, sounds almost planned. Educated in the best universities, both leaders became career bureaucrats, blaming the country's economic problems on too little government power, and dividing the country into "big business" vs. everyone else. Campaigning on class antagonisms, both have created the perception that our economy is a zero-sum game with limited wealth that must be redistributed to achieve a fair society. With no experience in the private sector, when asked how business will continue to create jobs in a world of their regulatory nightmares, they believe that the rich will "figure it out."
Rather than issuing economic directives, as Mouch famously does, President Obama passes legislation to the same effect. Between Obamacare and Dodd Frank, even Mouch would be impressed with Obama's progress.
Both make the same moral argument: Their goal is to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number. Sacrifice the few in order to satisfy the many. Demonize the rich, in order to placate the poor. It was to prevent this moral cannibalism that Aristotle supported a republic, rather than a pure democracy. He believed this was the surest way to protect individual freedom.
The alternative to this morally corrupt society, Rand argued, was to elect a government that believed in human potential and therefore allowed individuals to flourish unencumbered by their government. Enter Mitt Romney, the capitalist who has a record of crusading for smaller, but more responsible, government.
Mitt and Midas come from the same backgrounds. Both are known as risky investors. Both are demonized as profiteers. But what they have in common is the ability to discover human potential where others fail. Mulligan becomes one of the first investors in Rearden Metal, a company that transforms the economy by producing a metal that is cheaper and lighter than steel. Mitt has invested in companies including: AMC Entertainment, Burger King, Burlington Coat Factory, Domino's Pizza, DoubleClick, Dunkin' Donuts, The Sports Authority, Staples and Toys "R" Us. Both men have a unique ability to asses risk and make smart investments.
What does this parallel tell us about our election?
It makes clear to us that our choice was between two different philosophies. You either voted for Wesley Mouch -- more government, more directives, a bigger nanny state, a growing deficit, and a perpetual crisis that requires us to sacrifice our producers to the common good, or for Midas Mullian -- a man who has turned to gold every enterprise he's been a part of, who understands that small government is the only way for producers of wealth, like himself, to develop new ideas and create more jobs.
Ultimately, the question becomes whether we value success more than well-intentioned failure. Do we want a country that values its job creators, of enforces regulation that suffocates business?
America chose the career bureaucrat.
As the ideology that need is a moral trump card, success is unimportant, and the man with experience redistributing wealth is more qualified to lead this nation than the wealth creator himself, Ayn Rand's prophesy is becoming disturbingly similar to reality.