Astonishing Ron Paul
Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
As 2012 draws
to a close, itís hard not to be reminded that 2013 will begin with
Ron Paul retired from Congress. For all those years he was a fearless
truth-teller, who exposed and denounced the horrors, domestic or
foreign, of the regime. His farewell address Ė something practically
unheard of for a congressman in the first place Ė will continue
to be read years from now, as future Americans look back with astonishment
that such a man actually served in the US Congress.
For most of
his career, those speeches were delivered to a largely empty chamber
and to audiences of modest size around the country. A man of Ronís
intelligence could have grown in stature and influence in no time
at all had he been willing to play the game. He wasnít. And he was
perfectly at peace with the result: although he wasnít a major political
celebrity, he had done his moral duty.
he know that those thankless years of pointing out the Stateís lies
and refusing to be absorbed into the Blob would in fact make him
a hero one day. To see Ron speaking to many thousands of cheering
kids, when all the while respectable opinion had been warning them
to stay far away from this dangerous man, is more gratifying and
encouraging than I can say. I was especially thrilled when a tempestuous
Ron, responding to the Establishmentís description of his campaign
as "dangerous," said, youíre darn right Ė I am
dangerous, to them.
used to tell Ron that if only heíd stop talking about foreign policy
he might win more supporters. He knew it was all nonsense. Foreign
policy was the issue that made Ron into a phenomenon. There would
have been no Ron Paul movement in the first place had Ron not distinguished
himself from the pack by refusing to accept the cartoonish narrative,
peddled not only by Rudy Giuliani but also by the luminaries of
both major political parties, accounting for the origins of 9/11.
How many bills
did he pass, right-wing scoffers demand to know. A successful Republican
politician, in between his usual activity of expanding government
power, is supposed to have rearranged the deck chairs on the Titanic
five or six times, by means of bills with his name on them. At best,
the bills these politicos boast about amounted to marginal changes
of momentary significance, if even that. More commonly, even the
bills they trumpeted turned out to be ambiguous or actually negative
from a libertarian standpoint.
What is Ronís
legacy? Not some phony bill, of zero significance in the general
avalanche of statism. For his legacy, look around you.
Reserve, an issue not discussed in American politics in a hundred
years, is under greater scrutiny now than ever before. Austrian
economics is enjoying a rebirth that dwarfs the attention it received
when F.A. Hayek won the Nobel Prize in 1974 Ė and when you ask people
how they heard about the Austrian School, the universal answer is
Ron Paul. One man brought about this intellectual revolution.
Howís that for a legacy?
not to mention how many people Ron introduced to libertarian thought
in general, or how many hawks reconsidered their position on war
because of Ronís arguments and example.
Even the mainstream
media has to acknowledge the existence of a whole new category of
thinker: one that is antiwar, anti-Fed, anti-police state, and pro-market.
The libertarian view is even on the map of those who despise it.
That, too, is Ronís doing.
are reading major treatises in economics and philosophy because
Ron Paul recommended them. Who else in public life can come
close to saying that?
bills did he get passed? Talk about missing the point.
Where are the
hordes of students dying to learn from Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann,
Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, or Mitt Romney?
that in politics thereís always some excuse for why the message
of liberty canít be delivered. I have to satisfy the party leadership.
I have to keep the media off my back. The moment is inopportune.
My constituents arenít ready to hear it Ė so instead of explaining
myself and persuading them, Iíll just keep my mouth shut, or minimize
my position to the point where I sound like any old politician,
except ten percent better.
all the while, would-be donors are assured that this is all a facade,
that the politician is really one of us and not what he appears
to be. For the time being, you understand, he has to contradict
his core beliefs in order to ingratiate himself into the favor of
those whose support he will one day need.
he still cannot really say what he thinks. Donít you want him to
Ron never acted
this way. At times he would explain the libertarian position in
ways likely to resonate with a particular audience, but he never
compromised or backed away.
Itís been said
that if you ask Ron Paul a question, he gives you a straight answer.
Thatís an understatement. All through his presidential campaigns
he sent the guardians of opinion into hysterics. Why, he canít say
that! That wasnít even one of the choices! To the gatekeepersí astonishment,
his numbers kept on growing.
is going to trick the public into embracing liberty, even if liberty
were his true goal and not just a word he uses in fundraising letters.
For liberty to advance, a critical mass of the public has to understand
and support it. That doesnít have to mean a majority, or even anywhere
near it. But some baseline of support has to exist.
That is why
Ron Paulís work is so important and so lasting.
years from now, no one will remember the men who opposed Ron in
the GOP primaries. Half of them are forgotten already. But fifty
years from now (and longer), young kids will still be learning from
Ron: reading his books, following his recommendations for further
study, and taking inspiration from his courage and principle.
Congressional career drawing to a close, we should remember that
we have witnessed something highly unusual, and exceedingly unlikely
to be repeated. And we should also remember Ronís parting advice:
the real revolution is not in Washington, DC. Itís in the world
Ron is devoting the rest of his life to, and itís one more thing
he has to teach us. So 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. And in this work, there is a place for all of us.
H. Rockwell, Jr. [send him
mail], former editorial assistant to Ludwig von Mises and congressional
chief of staff to Ron Paul, is founder and chairman of the Mises
Institute, executor for the estate of Murray N. Rothbard, and
editor of LewRockwell.com.
© 2012 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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