Honoring one of the most inspiring and principled political careers in contemporary American politics, culminating in an extraordinary “farewell address” upon his recent announced retirement from the House of Representatives, WND has named U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, as its “Man of the Decade.”
This is surprising, coming from a site founded and run by a man who once wrote:
Ron Paul seems clueless on [foreign policy]. He seems to think radical Islamists will just leave us alone if we leave them alone. That hasn’t been true for 230 years of American history. And it hasn’t been true for Western civilization for the last 1,300 years…Santorum has a clear-headed view on this subject…
Is it significant? Definitely. This is a big conservative site directing a lot of positive attention on a man who routinely calls for a noninterventionist foreign policy, an end to the drug war, and defends the legitimacy of secession.
On the other hand, it’s easier to say nice things about someone when he is not running for president and is on the verge of retiring* from public life. I am sure that many conservatives think that, with the old man leaving the picture, the Ron Paul movement can be tamed and turned into a loyal wing of the traditional Republican Party. Hopefully that’s not the case.
*Of course, Paul apparently has big plans for his future outside of Congress. Lew Rockwell tells us to “watch for news of his institutionalized work for peace, his homeschooling curriculum, his homepage, and his TV network. Far from retiring, Ron Paul is stepping up his work for liberty.”
According to The Hill, Paul says, “I’m excited about spending more time on college campuses, not less. College campuses will still be on my agenda. That’s where the action is…The young people don’t like the debt they are inheriting, the violation of their civil liberties. They don’t like the war and it’s a fertile field. The people up here sort of ignore them.”
This may well be the last time I speak on the House Floor. At the end of the year I’ll leave Congress after 23 years in office over a 36-year period. My goals in 1976 were the same as they are today: promote peace and prosperity by a strict adherence to the principles of individual liberty.
It was my opinion, that the course the U.S. embarked on in the latter part of the 20th Century would bring us a major financial crisis and engulf us in a foreign policy that would overextend us and undermine our national security.
To achieve the goals I sought, government would have had to shrink in size and scope, reduce spending, change the monetary system, and reject the unsustainable costs of policing the world and expanding the American Empire.
The problems seemed to be overwhelming and impossible to solve, yet from my view point, just following the constraints placed on the federal government by the Constitution would have been a good place to start.
Excerpts: “We’re so far gone. We’re over the cliff…People do not want anything cut. They want all the bailouts to come. They want the Fed to keep printing the money. And they don’t believe that we’ve gone off the cliff or are close to going off the cliff. They think we can patch it over, that we can somehow come up with some magic solution. But you can’t have a budgetary solution if you don’t change what the role of government should be. As long as you think we have to police the world and run this welfare state, all we are going to argue about is who will get the loot.”
William Anderson compares FEMA’s bungled response to Sandy to its disastrous response to Katrina. Paul Krugman blamed FEMA’s performance in the latter case on the Bush administration’s supposed hostility to government intervention. How has he explained this most recent debacle? “So far,” Anderson writes, “there is silence from the Great Man at Princeton.”
Jeffrey Tucker analyzes the chaos caused by the government’s response to Sandy, especially its “anti-gouging” laws.
Donald Boudreaux explains the pernicious effects of anti-gouging laws to readers of the New Jersey Star-Ledger.
Robert Murphy argues that education, not participation in the formal political process, is the most promising route for the libertarian movement. The Ron Paul campaigns were effective not because Ron Paul had any chance to be elected president, but because they served as vehicles for education about liberty, constitutionalism, and noninterventionism.
Dan Mahoney identifies two facets of Mises’s famous argument on the impossibility of economic calculation under socialism. First, that no profit-and-loss calculations can take place under socialism since the prices on which these calculations are based would not exist. And second, that there can be no alternative means of allocation because of the subjective nature of value. Mahoney argues that these two points are distinct arguments and should not be conflated.
Many–myself included–have argued that an Obama victory would be better for the long term health of a pro-liberty right. Romney’s defeat, this line of thinking goes, would force the GOP to reevaluate its beliefs and strategies, an outcome that could only benefit the young Ron Paul wing of the party.
Daniel McCarthy offers an alternative analysis. He argues that the Ron Paul movement only caught on the way it did because of the dissident right’s profound disappointment with the presidency of George W. Bush. A corollary to this observation (which McCarthy does not mention) is that the Tea Party–born in opposition to a Democratic President–has proven itself directionless and easily co-optable. When the Democrats are in power, it’s easier for different elements of the right to band together and pose as the party of liberty, even if most of those elements are profoundly anti-liberty.
On the other hand, McCarthy argues, “a Romney victory might, as the Marxists used to say, heighten the contradictions on the right to the point that reform becomes possible.” That is, Romney could provoke a civil war on the right as soon as he begins acting like Obama II (or Bush IV). And that would open up possibilities for noninterventionists and actual budget hawks who are currently frozen out of power.
It’s an interesting interpretation. But frankly, the short term prospects for a sane right are bleak no matter who wins. Even if we get the type of reevaluation we want–whether prompted by an Obama or a Romney victory–who is going to represent our side? Where are the actual budget hawks and noninterventionists who are going to take over the Republican Party, and–this is crucial–are they going to hire Jesse Benton?
According to Lew Rockwell, the libertarian movement needs “more professors, business owners, fathers and mothers, religious leaders, and entrepreneurs. The party of liberty loves commerce and culture, not the state. Commerce and culture is our home and our launching ground for social reform and revolution.”
He doesn’t hesitate to add, however, “We need more Ron Pauls.”
Jesse Benton is going to take over the reelection campaign of Mitch McConnell in 2014. And to think, legions of Ron Paul supporters donated thousands of dollars to the Ron Paul campaign so that this guy could pull down a six-figure salary. Tom Woods reacts:
Gee, now why did those incorrigible naysayers have so many unkind words for him?
People who said Benton was positioning himself all along for bigger things in the GOP were scoffed at. Why, Jesse has a secret plan to get Ron Paul the nomination at the last minute!
Well, now we know the real secret plan.
Ask yourself this: how much money would you have to be paid to work for an enemy of the things you’re supposed to stand for? Maybe now people will understand why Jesse would fly into a tirade after some of Ron’s most heroic moments, when the rest of us were cheering.
I could go through a lengthy catalogue of problems with Benton. The grassroots folks already know a lot of them, so there’s probably no need. What’s done is done.
Mr. Paul, in an interview, said convention planners had offered him an opportunity to speak under two conditions: that he deliver remarks vetted by the Romney campaign, and that he give a full-fledged endorsement of Mr. Romney. He declined.
“It wouldn’t be my speech,” Mr. Paul said. “That would undo everything I’ve done in the last 30 years. I don’t fully endorse him for president.”
Jesse Benton is also quoted in the article and, unsurprisingly, pitches the pro-sellout argument:
Some true believers want to “dress in black, stand on a hill and say, ‘Smash the state,’ ” said Mr. Benton, who is married to one of Mr. Paul’s granddaughters. But “it’s not our desire to have floor demonstrations. That would cost us a lot more than it would get us.”
The exact same charge–with the exact same words–has been leveled at Lew Rockwell by members of the Beltway crowd. But it’s been Lew Rockwell, Tom Woods, and the scholars and writers associated with LRC and the Mises Institute who have been the driving intellectual force behind the Ron Paul Revolution. The movement is animated by radical Rothbardian ideas like ending the Fed and bringing the troops home, not by wonky Beltway ideas like setting up school vouchers, selling off highways to private corporations, and demunicipalizing trash collection.
Just eight years ago, “it was fringy people in the John Birch Society” who were espousing Mr. Paul’s ideas for taking on the Federal Reserve system, Mr. Benton said. “Now it’s the Republican Party” that has drafted a platform plank calling for auditing the central bank.
“Fringy” people built this movement, and since these “fringe” types have been successful, the Republicans are trying to co-opt their work. Benton may want to downplay it, but the title of his boss’s work on the central bank is End the Fed, not Conduct a Half-Assed Audit of the Fed like the Republican platform calls for.
I’ll stay on the hill, Jesse, and we’ll see how begging for scraps from the Republican establishment’s table works out for you.