Which Ayn Rand Villain Is Donald Trump?

I havent written about Donald Trump yet because the subject is so damn painful. But by taking a somewhat humorous approach—by letting Trump provide us with huuuuuge comic relief—we can examine the situation less painfully, and possibly with a few laughs.

Below are a several statements from Trump that are simultaneously nightmarish and hilarious. They also bring to mind a flood of characters from Ayn Rand’s novels, especially The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. So the game is: Which character (or characters) from Rand’s novels does Trump sound like in these passages?

Feel free to mix characters and form hybrids, as Trump’s (ahem) richness may warrant that. You also might need to incorporate characters from other fictional sources, given that some of Trump’s word salads go beyond anything Rand could have conjured even for Lois Cook. In any event, be sure to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

1. Trump recently advised college students at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin, as follows:

When you become very successful, the people that you will like best are the people that are less successful than you, because when you go to a table you can tell them all of these wonderful stories, and they’ll sit back and listen. Does that make sense to you? OK? Always be around unsuccessful people because everybody will respect you. Do you understand that?

Which character or combination of characters does that sound like?

2. The Washington Post editorial board recently interviewed Trump, and among the questions asked and, strictly speaking, not answered was a question from the Post’s publisher, Fred Ryan. The correspondence proceeded as follows:

RYAN: You mentioned a few minutes earlier here that you would knock ISIS. You’ve mentioned it many times. You’ve also mentioned the risk of putting American troops in a danger area. If you could substantially reduce the risk of harm to ground troops, would you use a battlefield nuclear weapon to take out ISIS?

TRUMP: I don’t want to use, I don’t want to start the process of nuclear. Remember the one thing that everybody has said, I’m a counterpuncher. Rubio hit me. Bush hit me. When I said low energy, he’s a low-energy individual; he hit me first. I spent, by the way he spent eighteen million dollars’ worth of negative ads on me. That’s putting [MUFFLED] . . .

RYAN: This is about ISIS. You would not use a tactical nuclear weapon against ISIS?

TRUMP: I’ll tell you one thing, this is a very good-looking group of people here. Could I just go around so I know who the hell I’m talking to?

HIATT: Sure, then I’d like to let a couple of them get in questions.

LEWANDOWSKI: We have got five minutes, hard out.

HIATT: Okay.

TRUMP: Oh is it?

LEWANDOWSKI: Yeah. You have a meeting you have to get to.

TRUMP: Okay, we do.

In case you’re wondering, that portion of the interview is not an anomaly. That is the level of clarity, eloquence, and focus Trump exhibits throughout the entire conversation (more below). But that passage works particularly well for the game: Which character from an Ayn Rand novel or other fictional source does Trump sound like there?

3. As The Washington Post interview continued, the subject turned to China—well, sort of. Jackson Diehl, the Post’s deputy editorial page editor, tried to ask Trump a question about China. It went like this:

DIEHL: What about China and the South China Sea. What do you think they’re up to and—

TRUMP: I think it’s a terrible situation, I think it’s terrible they have no respect for—

DIEHL: —and what should we do about it?

TRUMP: Well look, we have power over China and people don’t realize it. We have trade power over China. I don’t think we are going to start World War III over what they did, it affects other countries certainly a lot more than it affects us. But—and honestly, you know part of—I always say we have to be unpredictable. We’re totally predictable. And predictable is bad. Sitting at a meeting like this and explaining my views and if I do become president, I have these views that are down for the other side to look at, you know. I hate being so open. I hate when they say—like I said get rid of the oil, keep the oil, different things over the years, when people are saying what would you do with regard to the Middle East, when we left—we should have never been in Iraq. It was a horr- it was one of the worst decisions ever made in the history of our country. We then got out badly, then after we got out, I said, “Keep the oil. If we don’t keep it Iran’s going to get it.” And it turns out Iran and ISIS basically—

HIATT: How do you keep it without troops, how do you defend the oil?

TRUMP: You would . . . You would, well for that—for that, I would circle it. I would defend those areas.

HIATT: With U.S. troops?

TRUMP: Yeah, I would defend the areas with the oil. And I would have taken out a lot of oil. And, uh, I would have kept it. I mean, I would have kept it, because, look: Iran has the oil, and they’re going to have the oil, well, the stuff they don’t have, because Iran is taking over Iraq as sure as you’re sitting there. And I’ve been very good on this stuff. My prognostications, my predictions have become, have been very accurate, if you look.

HIATT: So what do you think China’s aims are in the South China Sea?

TRUMP: Well, I know China very well, because I deal with China all the time. I’ve done very well. China’s unbelievably ambitious. China is, uh . . . I mean, when I deal with China, you know, I have the Bank of America building, I’ve done some great deals with China. I do deals with them all the time on, you know, selling apartments, and, you know, people say, “Oh that’s not the same thing. The level of . . . uh, the largest bank in the world, four hundred million customers, is a tenant of mine in New York, in Manhattan. The biggest bank in China. The biggest bank in the world.

China has got unbelievable ambitions. China feels very invincible. We have rebuilt China. They have drained so much money out of our country that they’ve rebuilt China. Without us, you wouldn’t see the airports and the roadways and the bridges; I mean, the George Washington Bridge is like, that’s like a trinket compared to the bridges that they’ve built in China. We don’t build anymore, and it, you know, we had our day. But China, if you look at what’s going on in China, you know, they go down to 7 percent or 8 percent, and it’s like a national catastrophe. Our GDP is right now zero. Essentially zero.

DIEHL: Could you use trade to cause them to retreat in the South China Sea?

TRUMP: I think so, yeah. I think so.

DIEHL: What would you do?

TRUMP: We, well, you start making it tougher. They’re selling their products to us for . . . you know, with no tax, no nothing. By the way, we can’t deal with them, but they can deal with us. See, we are free trade. The story is, and I have so many people that deal with China—they can easily sell their product here. No tax, no nothing, just “come on, bring it all in, you know, bring in your apples, bring in everything you make, and no taxes whatsoever, right? If you want to deal with China, it’s just the opposite. You can’t do that. In other words, if you want to, if you’re a manufacturer, you want to go into China? It’s very hard to get your product in, and if you get it in, you have to pay a very big tax.

HIATT: So, if they occupied what the Japanese call the Senkaku Islands, is that something the United States—

TRUMP: —Well, I, you know, again, I don’t like to tell you what I’d do, because I don’t want to . . . You understand what I’m saying, Fred? If I . . . Okay, if I say, “Well, we should go in and do this or that or that, I don’t want to, I don’t want to sort of . . . red flag all over it. I do think this: It’s an unbelievable thing that they’ve done. It’s unbelievable aggression; it’s unbelievable lack of respect for this country.

Who does Trump sound like there? (If that passage is simply too incoherent to ascribe to a villain in a Rand novel, feel free to think in the direction of James Joyce or the like.)

4. At a rally in Fort Worth, Texas, with his kindred spirit Chris Christie, Trump said:

If I become president, they [the media] will have such problems. . . . One of the things I’m going to do . . . and I’ve never said this before . . . is open up our libel laws, so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles we [presumably the Trump administration] can sue them and win lots of money. . . . When The New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace, or when The Washington Post . . . writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected. You see, with me they’re not protected because I’m not like other people.

Who does Trump sound like there?

In addition to providing your thoughts on the above instances in the comment section below, feel free to add other remarks from Trump that fit the bill. There’s no dearth of them. And he’s somewhere spewing more right now.

One final query: If Ayn Rand had assigned the words or “thoughts” above to a presidential candidate in a novel she’d written, how would America’s leading intellectuals have reacted? Would they have acknowledged that this is the kind of thing that can happen when anti-intellectual intellectuals steer a culture for decades into the dismal depths of irrationalism and emotionalism? Or would they have accused her of fabricating an “unbelievable” villain and mocked her for “hyperbole”?

We know the answer. And, to those “intellectuals,” there is only one thing to say: Brothers, you asked for it.


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18 Responses to Which Ayn Rand Villain Is Donald Trump?

  1. cramnella@gmail.com'
    Marc Allen April 7, 2016 at 3:25 pm #

    Totally and shamefully for the country, he’s just Peter Keating. He doesn’t even rise to the level of respect of an Orren Boyle.

  2. ego111@gmail.com'
    Evans Winner April 7, 2016 at 9:27 pm #

    It’s been too long since I read Rand’s fiction to give a serious answer, but I laughed when the association occurred to me between Trump’s train-of-thought verbal style and Lois Cook, the avant-garde novelist from The Fountainhead.

  3. scstoddardrv@gmail.com'
    goodold_lucifer April 7, 2016 at 11:10 pm #

    1. Toohey, 2. Stadler, 4. Meigs

  4. markcoldren@gmail.com'
    Mark Coldren April 8, 2016 at 1:08 pm #

    I’d say mostly Jim Taggart, due to the utter emptiness of his actual mind combined with his personal ambition, business tactics, and rhetorical posturing that we can somehow all get along, despite forcefully stated disagreements, because he doesn’t really take the facts underlying those disagreements seriously. He’s like Jim Taggart if Jim Taggart decided to be a politician.

    I also see elements of Peter Keating, Guy Francon, and Mr. Thompson in him. Keating because his self-esteem and choices of values appear utterly second-handed. Francon because of the way he tries to charm people into supporting his projects or favorably covering his campaign. Thompson because of his focus in politics on deal-making among pressure groups at the expense of any acknowledgement of principles.

    • k.kaprow@gmail.com'
      Kizone Kaprow April 12, 2016 at 10:34 am #

      You come the closest, which isn’t very close, as Trump would be his own character in an Ayn Rand novel — the crony capitalist who jumps, wholly unprepared and headlong, into a political contest without the most fundamental understanding of politics, the proper role of government, the inherent, inviolable rights of all individuals. Trump is a megalomaniac who believes that the sheer, brute force of money and social-media popularity is enough to win the most consequential election in world politics. And if he wins, it will say more about the state of American culture than his own fleeting victory.

    • nmorpus@gmail.com'
      Nick Morpus April 12, 2016 at 11:52 am #

      I completely agree. That is why I wrote this today.


      I was shocked when he claimed that he was “Howard Roark.” It’s like Trump is trying to ruin one of my favorite books for me.

  5. mkkevitt@yahoo.com'
    mkkevitt April 9, 2016 at 3:25 pm #

    Like Evans Winner, here, I’m rusty with time on Rand’s villains. I’d call Trump an amalgamation of her villains. He has got to be smarter than he sounds. Maybe he talks that way to avoid lying and still keep everything of substance up his sleeve, hidden. He doesn’t come out even with any basic ideas about anything. So we must assume the worst.

    I’ve learned to view Trump rationally and objectively. Unfortunately, I had to learn to because, at first, I just wanted to believe he was what we need, or the best we can expect today: somebody at least generally oriented toward individual rights. Especially in view of Ms. H. Clinton and Mr. B. Sanders, and knowing little about Cruz, I wanted to believe that. Now, knowing more about Cruz, I pin hopes on Cruz. I’d take about ANY Republican over any Democrat today. Mike Kevitt

    • b_haynes@comcast.net'
      Bryan Haynes April 14, 2016 at 12:16 pm #

      While I fully understand the repulsion of voting for a Liberal in general, or Hillary Clinton in particular, here is why I believe I will vote for Clinton if Trump is the Republican nominee.

      Very simply, Trump is viewed as the quintessential Capitalist. If he is elected, and then when his policies fail (which they will), the Liberal press will gleefully report that this is proof that “Capitalism doesn’t work!” Personally, I would rather have governmental policy fail under a Liberal than a so-called “Capitalist.”

      I know this argument has been used before during other elections and with other candidates, but I think this year is different. To my knowledge, we have never had a perceived Capitalist run for president. The typical Republican candidate is a religious conservative, and most people expect their policies to not vary much when compared to a candidate from the Democratic party; nor do they expect the Republican policies to be successful in practice. While the Democratic party moves our country towards Statism, the Republican party moves us towards a Theocracy; both attack Individual Rights based on their own philosophical premises.

      If Trump, the “Capitalist,” is elected, Capitalism will take the hit, and it will take many, many years for its true principles to be advocated and tried again. I can’t allow myself to contribute to the demise of the concept of Capitalism.

    • natreslaw@gmail.com'
      Adelson Lawfirm April 14, 2016 at 5:05 pm #

      I share your position – Cruz does seem to genuinely a conservative and constitutionalist. You might enjoy observing some of his US Supreme Court arguments – they are archived online at the US Supreme Court site.

  6. Inaissance@gmail.com'
    JohnGalt Iamoura April 10, 2016 at 3:22 am #

    “Afterward, when Wynand had gone below to his cabin, Roark remained alone on the deck. He stood at the rail, staring out at the ocean, at nothing.
    He thought: I haven’t mentioned to him the worst second-hander of all – the man who goes after power.”

  7. mlorton@yahoo.com'
    Michael Lorton April 12, 2016 at 4:06 pm #

    I don’t think that Trump any actual Rand villains, but if Rand met Trump, she’d be kicking herself for not writing one. “That was my mistake: all my villains are basically coherent. Why didn’t I put in one complete retard, somebody incapable of completing a thought or a sentence, but who rises to prominence by the power of his sheer self-regard?”

    On second thought, she might have discarded the notion as too implausible.

  8. steven_barrie@yahoo.com'
    Steven Barrie April 13, 2016 at 11:09 pm #

    To play on Nietzschean terms, he is an “untermensch,” an “underman,” someone who has never had an original thought in his life. The way he speaks suggests a less-than-thoughtful individual who acts out of instinct rather than intelligence or reason. His “will to power” is the cave dweller’s power—naked agression when affronted by anything about which he disagrees (or more likely doesn’t understand). I don’t know how to relate that back to Rand’s fiction as I am sorely under-read in that area, having focused more on her essays than her novels.

  9. vinnie@dogatemymail.com'
    Vinnie April 14, 2016 at 12:25 am #

    Trump is about as focused as Pop Harper…

    “I’m not going to requisition a new typewriter. The new ones are made of tin. When the old ones go, that will be the end of typewriting. There was an accident in the subway this morning, their brakes wouldn’t work. You ought to go home, Eddie, turn on the radio and listen to a good dance band. Forget it, boy. Trouble with you is you never had a hobby. Somebody stole the electric light bulbs again, from off the staircase, down where I live. I’ve got a pain in my chest. Couldn’t get any cough drops this morning, the drugstore on our corner went bankrupt last week. The Texas-Western Railroad went bankrupt last month. They closed the Queensborough Bridge yesterday for temporary repairs. Oh well, what’s the use?

  10. vinnie@dogatemymail.com'
    Vinnie April 14, 2016 at 12:37 am #

    Also reminds me of Mort Liddy:

    The great burst of sound was the opening chords of Halley’s Fourth Concerto. It rose in tortured
    triumph, speaking its denial of pain, its hymn to a distant vision. Then the notes broke. It was as if a
    handful of mud and pebbles had been flung at the music, and what followed was the sound of the rolling and the dripping. It was Halley’s Concerto swung into a popular tune. It was Halley’s melody torn apart, its holes stuffed with hiccoughs. The great statement of joy had become the giggling of a barroom. Yet it was still the remnant of Halley’s melody that gave it form; it was the melody that supported it like a spinal cord.
    “Pretty good?” Mort Liddy was smiling at his friends, boastfully and nervously. “Pretty good, eh? Best movie score of the year. Got me a prize. Got me a long-term contract. Yeah, this was my score for Heaven’s in Your Backyard.”

  11. natreslaw@gmail.com'
    Adelson Lawfirm April 14, 2016 at 4:51 pm #

    I read the comments… I’d suggest we add Lillian Rearden, because of her elitist collectivism, and thinly veiled vulgarity. Trump says the current “government” is stupid and inept – but rather than curtail government, he intends to replace the present minions with his own set of “smart” people… so either Ellsworth Toohey will be running things, and Kip’s Ma (the nickname for Emma Chalmers) soybean crop results are likely… or, with my admitted effort here towards an alternate, benevolent possibility – we are looking at Gail Wynand, maybe… and instead of ‘ending’ himself, he will in fact embark on ways to “make America great again” and go find Toohey and his kind and remove and banish as many as he can. (For the record, I wish Ms. Fiorina and Dr. Carson were still in the running…)

  12. dbsloan@stanfordalumni.org'
    dbsloan April 16, 2016 at 4:45 pm #

    The one about preferring the company of the less successful reminds me of Keating. The others, however, lead me to imagine that he’s the bastard child of Lois Cook by Cuffy Meigs. He inherited Meigs’ boorish, drunken power lust and Cook’s style of expression.

  13. rossww@juno.com'
    2jeffersonianideals1 April 17, 2016 at 12:46 am #

    I have nothing per Rand as even she could not invent a character this vacuous and stupid. People tell me Trump is smart and educated but he proves this untrue every time he speaks. And this is why I have given up hope. It was bad enough when America let the USA hating Obama win a second term. But now that they have embraced a capitalism hating crony moron named Trump as a “conservative” candidate? My hope is to drink myself to death.

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