The way Ron Paul tells it, his more than 30 years of speaking and writing about money, inflation, and the Federal Reserve System attracted only limited interest outside libertarian and constitutionalist circles. The subject, and Paul as its spokesman, were scarcely to be found in the media, even — or perhaps especially — on the business networks.
But Paul’s 2008 presidential bid changed that. Suddenly the Fed was on the table for discussion for the first time since Congress established it in 1913. With Paul making the evils of central banking and fiat money a theme of his campaign, the issue took on a vigor that few expected. Even calling for the Fed’s outright abolition was longer unheard of on the television news networks.
When Paul first raised the issue in his campaign, he had no idea what he was tapping into. “I didn’t realize people your age knew so much about money and inflation,” he told a rally at the University of Pittsburgh last year. “But it gets the largest applause at college campuses. I figured the first time it happened [at the University of Southern California] it was an accident. … But then at the University of Michigan, they started to burn Federal Reserve Notes.”
To Paul’s surprise, some of his loudest applause lines involved salvos against the Fed. Chants of “End the Fed!” greeted his denunciations of the economic damage the central bank was unleashing. An underappreciated reason for Paul’s fundraising prowess was his outspoken opposition to the Fed, a subject that had long been off limits in American politics. Eventually, a national organization called End the Fed, with local chapters around the country, gave institutional expression to the issue, sponsoring a series of demonstrations against the central bank in 39 cities last November.
Thomas E. Woods, Jr. [send him mail] is senior fellow in American history at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He is the author of nine books, including the New York Times bestseller The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History and, most recently, Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse. Visit his new website.