I have never been so excited about a political campaign in my entire life. As most every libertarian knows, Ron Paul’s race for the presidency has sent the biggest bolt of electricity into the libertarian movement in our lifetime. Not only is he raising libertarian principles to the national level of political discussion and debate, he is doing so with passion, eloquence, and integrity. The magnetism of his message and his persona are attracting a focus to our cause — the cause of liberty — in ways none of us could have ever imagined just several months ago.
What I am doing for Ron Paul?
Anything he asks me.
IRS rules preclude The Future of Freedom Foundation, where I serve as president, from endorsing political candidates, which is why you won’t find any material supporting Ron’s candidacy on FFF’s website.
But on a personal level, I’ll fight my heart out for this man. There is no one in life whom I respect and admire more than Ron Paul. He might belong to the Republican Party but every one of us knows that libertarianism courses through his veins and that the spirit of liberty — of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution — pounds within his heart. I consider him the Frdric Bastiat of our time.
I’m petitioning to help Ron secure the 10,000 valid signatures of registered voters that he needs to get on the ballot here in Virginia. As of now, I have personally donated $1,028 to his campaign and fully intend, on a month-by-month basis, to reach the maximum $2,300 allowed by law. For the first time in my life, I have a political bumper sticker on my car — "Ron Paul for President." I’m the first person on my block with a "Ron Paul for President" yard sign. I’ve told Ron’s campaign that if they would like me to go door-to-door in New Hampshire, Virginia, or anywhere else to hang leaflets on people’s doors, all they have to do is say the word and I’ll be there.
Some libertarians might ask, "But Jacob, how can you support Ron Paul when you all disagree on the immigration issue?"
My answer: For the same reason that I assume Ron awarded The Future of Freedom Foundation his Liberty in Media Award for Outstanding Freedom Website — and for the same reason that libertarian think tanks and educational foundations support each other despite disagreements on particular libertarian issues: We know that we’re a small band of people who are committed to the same overall goal — the restoration of a free society — and we’re not going to let differences over particular libertarian positions split us apart and interfere with attaining our overall objective.
Permit me to share with you a story about Ron Paul. He has an informal group of Republican congressmen which regularly meets for lunch in his office to discuss ideas on liberty. Late last year, I received an invitation from Ron to address his group on the issue of foreign policy. Anyone who is familiar with FFF, including Ron, knows how hard-core we are on this issue.
While Ron and FFF probably agree, say, on 95 percent of foreign-policy issues, there might be, say, 5 percent that we disagree on. Despite the latter, Ron trusted me to make a presentation to his congressional colleagues whom he has been working diligently to attract to the pro-freedom cause for many years. Heck, with one presentation I could have botched years of Ron’s hard work! Nonetheless, despite the fact that we might not agree 100 percent on foreign policy, Ron trusted me to share my views with his group.
There was an interesting aftermath to that meeting. A few weeks later, I was contacted by an aide to one of the congressmen who had attended the meeting. He told me that the congressman had read FFF’s book Liberty, Security, and the War on Terrorism, which I had handed out at the meeting, and wanted several more copies to share with other congressmen. He later inserted quotes from the book into the Congressional Record.
That’s the power of ideas! It’s a power with which Ron Paul is very familiar.
Does that mean that I would vote for any self-described libertarian, either within the Libertarian Party or without? No. Like many other libertarians I have my own particular litmus test as to which libertarians I’ll vote for and which ones I won’t vote for. If a self-described libertarian favors either the drug war or the war of aggression on Iraq, I will not vote for him and, in fact, I don’t even consider him a libertarian. But if I’m convinced that a candidate is libertarian in spirit and commitment, I will vote for him even if he calls for Social Security reform, Medicare reform, welfare reform, school vouchers, immigration controls, a national sales tax, or any other compromise of libertarian principles.
A person at a Libertarian Party convention once said to me, "The worst thing that could ever happen is if the Republican Party were to adopt libertarian principles." Intrigued, I responded, "Oh, and why is that?" He said, "Because it would really damage the Libertarian Party."
The guy was obviously missing the forest for the trees. The greatest thing that could ever happen to our country is if both of the major parties — Republican and Democrat — were to re-embrace libertarian principles, because the only way we are going to restore freedom to our land is through the repeal of the wrongful, oppressive, and tyrannical laws and policies that emanate from the federal government.
If there was ever a person who could serve as the catalyst for that process to begin, it’s Ron Paul. Steeped in the free-market philosophy of such luminaries as Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, and Milton Friedman, there is no other political candidate in the country who can make as knowledgeable and passionate case for economic liberty as Ron Paul. Equally important, his commitment to civil liberties is unparalleled, as demonstrated by his consistent congressional votes against post-9/11 infringements on civil liberties, including the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act.
While his congressional colleagues were unconstitutionally delegating the power to declare war on Iraq to the president, Ron Paul was there standing against the tide, arguing that not only is it morally wrong to attack a country that has not attacked the United States, it is also a violation of the Constitution to do so without a congressional declaration of war. Unlike so many other politicians who change their positions in accordance with the latest public-opinion polls, Ron Paul stands on principle.
On a personal note, I once said to Ron, "No offense, Ron, but I’ve got a hunch that lots of people vote for you not because of your philosophy but simply because you and Carol are such nice people." Despite the fact that he is the only libertarian holding major political office, what is remarkable is that it has never manifested itself in negative ways. Ron Paul is one of the most humble, unassuming, genuinely nice people I have ever met.
I can’t imagine why any libertarian, both inside and outside the Libertarian Party, would not be ecstatic over Ron Paul’s race for the presidency. His old-fashioned, grass-roots political campaign is shining the most positive light on libertarians and libertarianism ever. He’s making the rest of us look good!
My goal is not to achieve freedom for coming generations. My goal is to achieve freedom in my lifetime. Ron Paul’s race for the presidency has given me hope that that aim can be achieved.
Just tell me what you want me to do, Ron, and I’ll do it.
Jacob Hornberger [send him mail] is a longtime libertarian activist.