Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and his Republican opponent, businessman Ron Johnson, met last night for a debate, with topics ranging from health care to outside ad spending to…Atlas Shrugged.
That’s right. A U.S. Senate debate ended up including a discussion on the 1957 novel by Ayn Rand, about a world where business owners and innovators rebel against and abandon a society that over-regulated them and redistributed their earnings. Johnson, who is himself a plastics manufacturer, has cited it as a favorite book of his.
As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:
Asked by a panelist about the book, Johnson said “Atlas” represents the producers of the world, while “Shrugged” represents how overburdened the producers are with rules, regulations and taxes.
“It’s a warning of what could happen to America,” Johnson said. “When you hear people talk about a tipping point, that’s what we’re concerned about…We have more people who are net beneficiaries of government than are actually paying into the system. That’s a very serious thing to think about.”
Also, the two had an exchange about outside groups that have advertised against Feingold. The incumbent repeatedly challenged Johnson, who said he did not support the ads, to call upon the groups to stop airing them. As WisPolitics reports:
“I am not. I don’t want them,” Feingold said. “You say you don’t want them. Will you call on them to stop?”
“I have no control over them,” Johnson answered.
Feingold repeated his question.
“That’s their right to free speech,” Johnson continued.
“Will you ask them to stop?” Feingold said again. “That’s your right to free speech to say, ‘You can stop.’”
The TPM Poll Average gives Johnson a lead of 52.3%-44.0%.