Inside the Brat Philosophy

The local professor who beat Eric Cantor is getting national attention.

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Dave Brat, the former Randolph-Macon College economics professor and philosopher, is getting a lot of attention these days.

The staunchly conservative Republican congressman who beat local wunderkind Eric Cantor in a GOP primary in 2014 has been assuming a leadership role in the Freedom Caucus, a populist party group that helped dump House Speaker John Boehner.

Brat and his cadre also served as a sudden and unusually powerful vetting committee, which eventually resulted in Paul Ryan becoming the new speaker -- although Brat withheld his personal support for him.

About six weeks ago, Brat drew national kudos among tea party types for trashing moderate Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Penn.) on "Meet the Press." 
And Sunday he merited a Q&A with The New York Times Magazine.

In it, he agrees that he is a “Calvinist,” which may sound grim. But as Brat says, “Even with my dim few of human nature, I am commanded every day to love every single child of God from morning to night.”

Brat is noted for taking an “ethical” view on capitalism, saying that following Judeo-Christian principles brings out the best and does the most social good in small-government, low-tax, free-market economics.

At the same time, he’s a devotee of Ayn Rand, a radical-right thinker and novelist who believed that when it comes to business and life, the best way to go is shameless self-interest. Brat told the Times that he's not a scholar of Rand but “a scholar of economics.”

He professes to oppose Washington-as-usual practices, and to that end he goes with Plato’s assertion that people shouldn’t start politics until they are 50 years old “because you are near death and the appetites are – whatever. You’re past the wine, women and song.”

He says that besides Plato, his favorite philosophers are St. Augustine, Adam Smith, Reinhold Niebuhr and Alasdair MacIntyre.

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