As a child growing up near Williamsburg and Yorktown, I was always fascinated by the notion of America revolting from the tyranny of an oppressive England. As a teenager, I enthusiastically read the books of Ayn Rand, especially Atlas Shrugged, which was a story of free-thinking people revolting against an oppressive governmental bureaucracy. (It was a great inspirational story that finally came to the silver screen last Friday at a few, select theaters around the country.)
From her writings, the libertarian movement was born. She is cited as the creative, philosophical genius behind the Tea Party and such people as Ron Paul. I think this is a simplistic, misinterpretation of her work.
As she was born and educated in Russia, much of her writing does focus on the oppressiveness of the Soviet-type of bureaucracy. Then, she migrated to a nation born out of revolution against another government, where distrust of government was already widespread. Unfortunately, it was a politically volatile combination.
Ayn Rand railed on the importance of standing against all of the winds of oppression, not just government oppression. What about oppression from other sources, such as religion, social mores, tradition, or even families? Her landmark book, Fountainhead, was not about standing up to the oppressive government but standing up to professional oppression, e.g., the architectural profession. It was about each person having the courage to do whatever they think is best; to refuse to be oppressed.
I can imagine long-dead Rand shaking her nicotine-stained fingers at us, chastising us with her clipped Russian accent, to stand up to her own followers today, to the Rand Institute, and even to the Tea Party. She would demand we stand up against all who would dictate our life decisions, not just the government. A true libertarian, she has been disrespected, indeed!