Most people who know me are aware that I supported retiring Texas congressman Ron Paul for president. I did so in 2008 and 2012. All except those who have died in the mean time also know that he did not win, unless you count those eleven congressional terms.
Yesterday Ron Paul gave a final speech in the House chamber. Like most of his speeches it was a bit rambling, sounding warning bells on economic concerns, the gold standard of money, an overextended military and liberty. From his remarks:
In many ways, according to conventional wisdom, my off-and-on career in Congress, from 1976 to 2012, accomplished very little. No named legislation, no named federal buildings or highways—thank goodness. In spite of my efforts, the government has grown exponentially, taxes remain excessive, and the prolific increase of incomprehensible regulations continues. Wars are constant and pursued without Congressional declaration, deficits rise to the sky, poverty is rampant and dependency on the federal government is now worse than any time in our history.
All this with minimal concerns for the deficits and unfunded liabilities that common sense tells us cannot go on much longer. A grand, but never mentioned, bipartisan agreement allows for the well-kept secret that keeps the spending going. One side doesn’t give up one penny on military spending, the other side doesn’t give up one penny on welfare spending, while both sides support the bailouts and subsidies for the banking and corporate elite. And the spending continues as the economy weakens and the downward spiral continues. As the government continues fiddling around, our liberties and our wealth burn in the flames of a foreign policy that makes us less safe.
Through the campaigns Paul supporters (excepting a few flamers and morons) were a thoughtful and cogent–if not an odd–mix. It is safe to say no other single candidate in the last two elections has attracted such a wide variety in his or her base. Only Barack Obama’s supporters could touch Dr. Paul’s for passion.
In an insightful article entitled, “Who Killed Rudy Guiliani?”, W. James Antle III asserts that Ron Paul has restored the soul of conservatism’s future. In my way of thinking this would make Paul the true and better William F. Buckley, Jr. Writes Antle:
When Ron Paul leaves office in January, he will have been more successful than many of the legislators who spent decades maligning him. Paul’s ideas have gradually gone from marginal to mainstream, and his record shows how much even a single determined man of principle can do to change a movement. In foreign policy especially, the Texas congressman leaves behind a new generation of leaders, both libertarian and conservative, who challenge the disastrous bipartisan consensus.
Conor Friedersdorf chose not to actually engage the content of the speech, but, while questioning some of the questions posed by Paul, had to admit “the United States – and especially its most unjustly treated citizens – would be better off if more legislators were grappling with them.” Ron Paul asked,
-Why are sick people who use medical marijuana put in prison?
-Why does the federal government restrict the drinking of raw milk?
-Why can’t Americans manufacturer rope and other products from hemp?
-Why are Americans not allowed to use gold and silver as legal tender as mandated by the Constitution?
-Why is Germany concerned enough to consider repatriating their gold held by the FED for her in New York? Is it that the trust in the U.S. and dollar supremacy beginning to wane?
-Why do our political leaders believe it’s unnecessary to thoroughly audit our own gold?
-Why can’t Americans decide which type of light bulbs they can buy?
-Why is the TSA permitted to abuse the rights of any American traveling by air?
-Why should there be mandatory sentences–even up to life for crimes without victims–as our drug laws require?
-Why have we allowed the federal government to regulate commodes in our homes?
-Why is it political suicide for anyone to criticize AIPAC ?
-Why haven’t we given up on the drug war since it’s an obvious failure and violates the people’s rights? Has nobody noticed that the authorities can’t even keep drugs out of the prisons? How can making our entire society a prison solve the problem?
-Why do we sacrifice so much getting needlessly involved in border disputes and civil strife around the world and ignore the root cause of the most deadly border in the world-the one between Mexico and the US?
-Why does Congress willingly give up its prerogatives to the Executive Branch?
-Why does changing the party in power never change policy? Could it be that the views of both parties are essentially the same?
-Why did the big banks, the large corporations, and foreign banks and foreign central banks get bailed out in 2008 and the middle class lost their jobs and their homes?
-Why do so many in the government and the federal officials believe that creating money out of thin air creates wealth?
-Why do so many accept the deeply flawed principle that government bureaucrats and politicians can protect us from ourselves without totally destroying the principle of liberty?
-Why can’t people understand that war always destroys wealth and liberty?
-Why is there so little concern for the Executive Order that gives the President authority to establish a “kill list,” including American citizens, of those targeted for assassination?
-Why is patriotism thought to be blind loyalty to the government and the politicians who run it, rather than loyalty to the principles of liberty and support for the people? Real patriotism is a willingness to challenge the government when it’s wrong.
-Why is it is claimed that if people won’t or can’t take care of their own needs, that people in government can do it for them?
-Why did we ever give the government a safe haven for initiating violence against the people?
-Why do some members defend free markets, but not civil liberties?
-Why do some members defend civil liberties but not free markets? Aren’t they the same?
-Why don’t more defend both economic liberty and personal liberty?
-Why are there not more individuals who seek to intellectually influence others to bring about positive changes than those who seek power to force others to obey their commands?
-Why does the use of religion to support a social gospel and preemptive wars, both of which requires authoritarians to use violence, or the threat of violence, go unchallenged? Aggression and forced redistribution of wealth has nothing to do with the teachings of the world’s great religions.
-Why do we allow the government and the Federal Reserve to disseminate false information dealing with both economic and foreign policy?
-Why is democracy held in such high esteem when it’s the enemy of the minority and makes all rights relative to the dictates of the majority?
-Why should anyone be surprised that Congress has no credibility, since there’s such a disconnect between what politicians say and what they do?
A commenter at the Los Angeles Times derisively exclaimed: “Ron Paul; the answer to a question nobody asked.”
That may well be true. But maybe the problem is the wrong questions were asked over and over while the right ones were ignored.
Did I think he could have won? Sure anything is possible. Did I think it probable? I guess I never did.
For me it was never about him winning. Though they are loathe to admit it history has already taught McCain and Romney supporters they were not about winning either. They could win neither the political nor idealogical campaigns.
For me it was about the conversation itself. Nothing is changed until the conversations is changed. McCain did not try to change the conversation unless you want to count from bad to worse. One hundred years in Iraq, an entirely new wing of government to deal with mortgages, and more military intervention. This was not upward movement; this was accelerated depreciation of ideas.
Romney could have changed the conversation several dozen times with only himself doing the talking. But, as the election demonstrated, people were too uncertain which Romney asked for their vote. In the end Romney was too much like Obama-lite to change the conversation. Romney was like Obama in an echo chamber on foreign policy, could not chart a believable path on domestic policy, and found a pretty much deaf ears on social policy.
Think about what we never heard from the top two in 2012 that Ron Paul talked about every chance he got: abuses by the Federal Reserve bank that both destroy the poor and middle class and allow for endless wars and interventions, a failed “War” on Drugs that has created an America with about as many people through prison and probation as the Gulags at their depths of depraved darkness, assassinations of American citizens without due process, abuses of government power through the Patriot Act, abuses of executive power through Executive Orders (aka “presidential directives”), the dangers of indefinite detention, and on and on we could go.
Ron Paul’s insistence that we adhere to the constitution was not only refreshing, for some people it was eye-opening and for others it was an absolute epiphany. Someone running for president acknowledging the power of the president is limited and war should be declared by Congress. Gasp! He showed a person did not have to be a card carrying member of the ACLU to care about civil liberties since civil liberties are constitutional, not preferential. He showed why and how it could and should be so.
Mitt Romney was not able to generate a single idea in his entire campaign that will still be talked about in another month. Ron Paul’s ideas have already spawned two movements, one official (the “Tea Party”) the other not (the Liberty Movement), created a trio of best selling books, contributed to a number of others being elected to congress, and drawn regular crowds of two to ten thousand people of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds.
For one, I’m thankful to have lived in the era when Ron Paul gained a national stage. He will never be elected again, and never be president. But while Barack Obama has found success with, “Ask what your country can do for you,” Ron Paul’s ideas are the ones whose time has come.
And, if those who call themselves conservative would stop merely adopting and modifying the thinking of the Left, they might just find these ideas unstoppable.