As Lew mentioned, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Ron Paul rally on the famous Sproul steps at UC Berkeley's campus. The Berkeley Students for Paul and the other students on campus showing their support were a diverse group, indeed. Many were Asian-Americans, as Justin Raimondo notes; some were disaffected Republicans (even the Berkeley College Republicans president was a Paul supporter! — this is amazing, seeing as howI have noted that a few years back, the club was entirely neocon fascists). There were also many leftists and progressives who supported Ron Paul, including some who liked Gravel and Kucinich but saw in Paul the most promising, most principled and fastest growing antiwar, pro-civil liberties, anti-corporate welfare campaign in America. This included some left-liberals so disgusted with the central state that they were quite fine with seeing issues like abortion handed back to the states, if it meant the end of empire. Many supporters were just normal students who had no interest in politics and no conscious grasp of libertarianism, but had a distinct libertarian instinct nevertheless. Indeed, for many in the crowd, including people new to politics, Ron Paul's free-market economics was almost as much a focus as the war.
The energy of the crowd was so great and inspiring it allowed me to give what I think was my best public speaking job ever. I spoke without notes, and did so with the spontaneous energy one would give in the circumstances, but I recreate the main points I covered below, edited for reading: --------------------------
For the last several decades, Americans have seen their civil liberties under attack. Much of this has happened under the guise of the war on drugs. Hundreds of thousands of peaceful people are trapped inside of inhuman cages, in rape rooms in what is the largest prison industrial complex on earth. This belies the notion of America as a free country. This is not merely a minor issue, but a full-out humanitarian catastrophe and rape of the Bill of Rights.
For years, the Republicans and Democrats have been united in their support for their insane policy. But Ron Paul has been a lone voice in Washington in his relentless and principled attack on the drug war. Even in the early 1980s, he was discussing on the House floor the pure hypocrisy of politicians drinking alcohol and condemning to prison elderly women who used medical marijuana. But he has always opposed the whole drug war, seeing it as a moral and constitutional disaster. Of all the candidates, only he offers a real way out of this totalitarianism. This alone makes it worth supporting him.
As terrible as the drug war has been, the assault on our fundamental liberties has only accelerated with the war on terror. The most horrible example of this can be seen in the detention policies of this administration. We have lost habeas corpus, the bulwark of all civil liberties and due process. When the state can put someone in a cage without letting anybody know why, without allowing access to attorneys or the outside world, we have the very end of civilization itself on our doorstep. Thanks largely to UC Berkeley's very own law professor John Yoo, the Bush administration now claims the authority to treat the entire world as a battlefield and seize any individual and strip him of all his rights, to detain, torture and kill him. Even sadistically murdering detainees is not considered clearly illegal if the president orders it. The idea that the president has this kind of authority is pure despotism.
We have come to the point where we don't even debate torture — it's just an assumed part of policy. At the Republican debates, most the candidates jumped over each other to appear as more pro-torture as the rest. This isn't just troubling, this is plain sick. This is disgusting. This is the rejection of the very basis of what in means to live in civilization. And it gets worse.
The CIA has a program it calls extraordinary renditioning, whereby the governments sends people to regimes like Syria to be interrogated. Nations we won't even engage in diplomatically because they are so barbarous and "Islamofascist" are given our prisoners to torture! This is insane! What the hell is happening to this country?
Only Ron Paul stands out in the national field as an example of a radically different approach. He opposes the torture, the militarism, the murderous war in Iraq, the impending aggression against Iran, the secret prisons, the all-out assault on due process and habeas corpus and the Fourth Amendment. Only he fully understands that the heart of our country is at stake.
And how, by the way, is the government financing all this tyranny? The Bush administration, like Republicans in general, claimed to be for smaller government, and indeed they generally don't like to raise taxes on their rich constituents. But the party that says it's for small government is for global empire and a growing police state. They can only finance this, without disturbing the income tax payers, by printing the money out of thin air. This directly causes every dollar owned by the poor, middle class, those on fixed incomes, to be worth less every year. The freshly counterfeited money is good for Wall Street, the big banks, and the military industrial complex. This is robbing the poor to feed the rich and the war machine, and only Ron Paul opposes this and always has understood the robbery of inflation.
America has been going in the wrong direction. We have lost our most precious civil liberties in the heat of waging imperial wars abroad. We need a movement like the old liberal movement, a movement of freedom and peace, to restore the Bill of Rights and indeed restore civilization itself to America. Ron Paul embodies this and has inspired so many and has given me hope. I cannot endorse him on behalf of my organization, but I do endorse him personally and I have more hope now that we might take our country back than I ever had before. I have hope that America is waking up. I have hope because of Ron Paul, who points the way to a brighter, freer, more peaceful future. Thank you.