Ron Paul: The Strongest Man in the World?

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Ron Paul is an enemy of the people. That is, in a literary sense. In 1882, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen penned a tragicomedy that, in many ways, mirrors Dr. Ron Paul’s political career.

“‘An Enemy of the People’ addresses the irrational tendencies of the masses, and the hypocritical and corrupt nature of the political system that they support. It is the story of one brave man’s struggle to do the right thing and speak the truth in the face of extreme social intolerance,” according to Wikipedia. The protagonist of the play, Dr. Stockmann, “is taunted and denounced as a lunatic, an ‘Enemy of the People.’” In the end, the well-intentioned doctor loses his friends and reputation, but emboldens himself with these words: the strongest man in the world is the man who stands most alone. Years ago, I’m ashamed to admit, I dismissed Ron Paul as a crazy old man. Of course, I did so without listening to anything that Dr. Paul had said or reading anything that he wrote. I was parroting what I heard from others (they were probably doing the same). Then came the financial crisis of 2008, and I was led down a rabbit hole. The political response to the crisis (bailouts, opacity, rewarding failure) did not sit well with me – I became obsessed with economics, the Federal Reserve and the track record of U.S. politicians. Within months, I had disavowed political parties (may the best man, or woman, win) and taken an interest in Mr. End the Fed, Ron Paul.

Nobody’s Right All the Time (or, Interest Rates are Tough to Predict)

When Ron Paul opposed the war in Iraq in 2002, he was a vocal minority. Unfortunately, his concerns proved valid. In the same year, Congressman Paul warned of a housing bubble and went so far as to introduce legislation intended to limit taxpayer exposure to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the bill never made it past a committee led by Rep. Mike Oxley and minority ranking member, Rep. Barney Frank). While Paul’s foes – both Republican and Democrat – would like to portray him as a stopped clock (unwavering, and only accurate a small percentage of the time), this is simply not the case. In a speech before Congress, Paul confessed his fears of how America might change in the next five to 10 years. A decade later his warnings seem a lot less crazy, rather, heartfelt and prescient.

A Champion of Conservatism – and Liberalism?

In 2004, Dr. Keith Poole – a political science professor at the University of Georgia – ranked 3,320 politicians (who have held office anytime between 1937-2002) from most liberal to most conservative. Ronald Reagan ranked as 77th most conservative, Barry Goldwater, 50th. Ron Paul ranked first. So how can it be that GOP voters (as polled by Rasmussen) view Ron Paul as the least conservative of the GOP candidates? Or that pundits like Dick Morris have referred to Dr. Paul as a left-wing radical. I offer this assessment: Republicans have forgotten what conservatism once meant:

  • conserving the resources and finances of the Republic,
  • conserving the lives of American troops, and
  • conserving the powers of the federal government.

This is the platform that Republican Congressman Howard Buffett (#40) – Warren Buffett’s father – once stood on, and this is the platform that Ron Paul stands on now. However, it is important to note that by conserving the powers of the federal government, this allows for liberal ideas to flourish (should the people of individual states want them to). But states’ rights aren’t perfect – far from. Under Ron Paul’s strict interpretation of the Constitution, states could impose ridiculous, backwards laws that restrict personal freedom. These states, however, would probably suffer an exodus of talented individuals (or the government would soon be overturned). In essence, states’ rights are a form of antitrust act – it’s much easier to escape to one of 49 other states than it is to abandon your citizenship in the face of oppressive federal laws. It’s also what our Founding Fathers had in mind.

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