Hi Austin. Thanks for reading! Yes, Atlas Shrugged is fiction, but Ayn Rand intended it as a primer to Objectivism, a defense of capitalism, and a rebuke of collectivist policies. John Galt's speech on those subjects occupies nearly 10% of the novel and is the book's climactic episode. Furthermore, as I noted in the article, conservative leaders like Paul Ryan and Alan Greenspan, as well as conservative pundits like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, read and promote the book as though it were a work of political science.
Because Republican leadership has so widely embraced Rand's "virtue of selfishness" ethos, many workaday Republicans, whether they've read Atlas Shrugged or not, have absorbed that mentality, too, and it shows in the general conservative response in America to climate change and COVID-19. Unlike The Davinci Code, Atlas Shrugged, though fiction, isn't a work of popular entertainment--it is a capitalist manifesto and is received among conservative intellectuals, politicians, and talking heads as such.