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Interview & Story By Ian Kirby
The fiasco of our 2012 Presidential Election threw a lot of figures into the 'household name' category, especially throughout the Republican primary season of late 2011 through mid 2012. Some were infamous, slinking back into the spotlight, some were inspiring new faces until they began speaking and some were downright laughable oddities that seemed a fluke to be on the national stage in contention for the possible assumption of the singly most influential position in the world. So many young people have become disillusioned with the quagmire that has become the two party system that dominates our political landscape. Because young voters, especially the college age demographic of 18-24, step into such a barrage of polarity, back-handed propaganda and outright misinformation the minute they hit voting age, it's hard not to become apathetic, especially to those would be voters who don't side strongly with either camp.
There are many who can relate to the conservative side on economic issues; certainly most young people understand at least to a basic degree the shadow of a $16 trillion debt and a shaky economy, and none are more heavily affected by the lagging jobs market. All too often we hear of graduates who have to become humbled by the prospect of moving back home, unable to find employment. While the two sides can debate over cause and effect, the fact remains that many young people see the wisdom in decreased spending.
The catch therein lies with the social side of the issue. Many young voters just can't come to terms with the far right's positions on things like the right to choose, equal rights, gun control, cannabis, social welfare and others, so they lean left despite mounting fiscal concerns. These stark contrasts between the two parties, and most candidates' seeming willingness to jump on board the issue that best suits to charge their base has left the masses not trusting anything, and not necessarily wanting to side with one extreme or the other.
Wouldn't it be nice then, if during the Presidential Election of 2012, there had been another choice? A more reasonable option, someone that could cover an enormous amount of middle ground between the polarized opposites?
During the melee of the Republican Primary season, one person, Dr. Ron Paul, who steadfastly went against the flow by not being just another daisy shifting in the wind, gained the notice and admiration of millions of people through his consistent, well argued Libertarian ideals, despite the general media's best attempts to ignore him.
There's an old joke about politicians and lawyers referring to how you can tell when they're lying: their lips are moving. It is beyond impressive then to know first about Ron Paul that he has held the exact positions on every major political talking point since he became a Republican candidate for the United States Congress in 1974. While he lost to the incumbent and wasn't elected until 1976, Dr. Paul went on to serve for almost 25 years in three different terms until he stepped down in January of this year, not once ever voting for a single measure that did not hold within it the ideals and principles set forth by our Constitution.
That document forms all of the strict guidelines Dr. Paul holds to in his political policy, which he now has made a priority to communicate to students at campuses across the nation. He has already proven his drawing power at institutions with bases both liberal and conservative, and he sits down with Campus Act Mag in an exclusive interview to discuss why he thinks our audience is such an important one for the political future.
I start by asking him just that, and his answer reveals far more his utilitarian and practical ideals than the pandering answer one might expect from a politician. "I think the best answer to that is this is the place where I have had my best reception. I have talked about issues relevant to students and been involved in education for a long time and secondarily in politics. The issues that I speak about and the philosophy I espouse has actually attracted young people more than anyone else, particularly on college campuses. I guess it's human nature for me to go to the places where I have a good reception. I have always enjoyed going to the campuses."
Dr. Paul's positions are considered more than just different from the norm, some of them, like banning the Federal Reserve, IRS, returning to a gold standard, withdrawing from the United Nations and discontinuing our military operations throughout the world are looked upon as being almost ludicrous. What Dr. Paul finds ludicrous is that it's only now, after so many years beating the same drum, that his sort of perspective is coming to the level of recognition it has, and most still don't realize that it's nothing new or revolutionary, not in the last 250 years or so anyway. "My perspective is a little bit different, but I find that a little bit sad, because I haven't invented or created anything. I don't have a new philosophy to present, I am very much into the tradition of our country and Constitution, of the principles of personal liberty that were laid out by the Framers."
Dr. Paul also believes our rights extend beyond that of simple legality. "I think we are all born with the natural instincts to be ourselves. In small children and teenagers we can certainly see an effort to be independent minded and it tends to be sort of beaten out of us after a while. I think young people though still often have that spark; they possess an element of idealism that I have an appeal for."
If anyone should have a sound opinion on why the trends of change have shifted, it should be him. "The reason, I think, why something is happening in these last few years, is technology. There were times when I would go to college campuses back in the 80's with the same message and same amount of enthusiasm and if I could get a class of 25 people together and talk to them I always did it thinking 'Well, I only have to get one person interested and momentum will build. But something happened, there has been a lot going on in the Freedom Movement and the idea of personal liberty and limited government. It has sort of been under the radar, but since the 1950's there have been certain groups that have been holding the fort so to speak, and keeping these ideas alive. Recently though, a couple of things have happened and it seems like a chord has really been struck with the young people. Firstly, the availability of the Internet and the use of it by young people. All of a sudden our ability to spread this message has become much easier."
While technology became a vehicle, Dr. Paul still thinks there was a necessary catalyst that fired it to life. "Even having the Internet alone wasn't enough, I think there had to be confirmation that there was something very much wrong with our system. For a long time, Republicans and Democrats actually got along pretty well with each other, because wealth was endless. There was no need for restraint in spending, deficits didn't seem to matter. But now with the crisis we have hit, I think young people are seeing what they are inheriting and this message is spreading. I think we live in very different times, which is why you often hear talk of an intellectual revolution going on."
One aspect of listening to Ron Paul speak that seems to make people naturally rally behind him is his ability to speak about the issues and lay out the facts, and then let people naturally gravitate toward his side. He doesn't tout himself, his abilities or his electability, he speaks passionately about the constitutional ideals he holds dear and lets the chips fall. The residual affect is that you want to follow him because he's not asking you to, he's asking you to use your head and follow your heart, knowing that the concept of personal freedoms is an untenable one for our American society, and one that resonates deeply with our people.
Dr. Paul's message to campuses is manyfold, and can be suited to address topics that are of interest to your base. One of the topics he specializes in that has grown legs of late is examining just what the role of government should be in our lives. "Frequently I bring this up, in almost all of my talks in fact. The question one has to ask is: 'What should the role of government be?' It's a very important question which every American should be able to give a ready answer to. I believe the Founders and the colonists at that time asked the same question, had a Revolution and wrote the Constitution as a result. They did not like the role of government to be that of the traditional dictatorship of the kings. Their answer was that it needed to be there, but should be minimal. It should provide the protection of liberty, but not create a welfare state and not to police the world. They were very adamant on their advice to this point, not to get involved in overseas adventurism.
"Of course it didn't make it into the Constitution, but they even argued that we should not be allowed to have deficits and should not be emitting bills of credit, which means paper money. Only gold and silver should be legal tender. In Article 1, section 8, they laid out the things we are allowed to do and if it's not in there, we are not allowed to do it on a federal basis. Everything else should be reserved to the states and the individual. That has been forgotten and I think we need to keep asking that question. If we decide we want our government to be the policemen of the world and have ever-expanding welfare (which has been our direction so far), the crisis will get worse and we will be forced, sometime in the not so distant future, to make a decision, as a country. We, and especially our younger generation, cannot depend on perpetual wealth brought out of borrowing, spending and printing money. It just can't last."
So what do we do about it? "Well, you have to admit the problem. We can't solve it if we don't acknowledge where we are. Those in Washington now argue that it's a budgetary problem and maybe if we just tinker with it here, give some reassurances there, change the tax code a bit and borrow a little bit more that we can finally get the economy going, pay our bills and everything is going to be okay. We have to admit that is not possible. We have gotten past the point that even if we had a dramatic change in the members of Congress, they would have to start from scratch again and ask that all important question again. What we have accepted as the role of government is not doable. We cannot continue to be in 135 countries and have 1000 bases overseas. That has to come to an end. Things are going to get a lot worse, with terrible inflation and a much weaker economy if we don't right the course."
University of Wisconsin, Madison
But, he says, all is not lost. "I am encouraged though because a lot of young people are listening and they are studying the principles of the free market and limited government. We have been taught so long to feel like you are an oddball if you believe in these things and I think what I try to do is make people feel better about this position. Just because you don't want to fight all of these wars doesn't mean you are against the troops. I am against the military industrial complex in general, yet I have the unwavering support of far more of our troops than any other political candidate. We have to convince people it is in the interest of our country to change course." An overwhelming percentage of dollars donated to the 2012 election campaigns from military service members was to Dr. Paul. "I know that I consistently raised more money from our troops than all of the other Republican candidates put together. I saw one report that said at times I outraised even what President Obama raised from the military. There is no doubt about it, but no one talked about it. You didn't hear about it on the media, I wasn't on the national news with them asking me 'Ron Paul, why do you get so much support from the troops? We thought you didn't like them!' Of course, I also served in the military for five years and none of the other candidates did except for Rick Perry, which probably didn't hurt me.
"This is a very big issue and I think if nothing else it makes conservatives and libertarians feel more comfortable and not feel like they are a bad person because they don't want to start another war. The Founders were adamant about us staying out of the internal affairs of other nations and I think we have gotten a lot of people to think about it, young people especially. Do they want to go into a military where they will have to go fight wars that don't make any sense? The media makes me or people like me seem like radicals, but what's radical about not wanting to have a $16 trillion dollar debt, or a $220 trillion dollar obligation that is not payable? What's radical about saying that our government shouldn't invade our houses without search warrants, something we fought a revolution about? People keep coming after it, saying how horrible and rigid and idealistic I am, but everyone has ideas, there are just bad ones and good ones," he says laughing. "When people say 'you are overly rigid in your idealism' what they are really saying is that they don't want your idealism at all, they want their own."
There appeared to be a concerted effort from all the major media outlets during the 2012 campaign to overlook and exclude Ron Paul from the spotlight as much as possible. Despite placing a close second in Iowa's Ames Straw Poll, third in the Iowa Republican Caucus and second in the New Hampshire Primary, he seemed to be continually pushed off to the side. He perhaps would have fared better across the board except for a lack of funds to compete with the prolific monetary forces of the other candidates as well as the GOP itself, which did not fairly treat Dr. Paul as a potential candidate. "I am encouraged now, because truth is coming out via the Internet, and we don't have to be as influenced by major media. There was one particular debate in the Republican Primary, where they gave me 89 seconds to speak out at a 2 hour event. This was immensely disproportionate to the audience of my constituency in the process. In 2008 we had the single largest Republican rally of the primary season with over 5,000 people in Independence Mall in Philadelphia, which was pretty dramatic and even then, there was zero coverage. I think they know that this message contradicts what they are doing and hurts their position. We have pretty good evidence that the GOP purposely tried to exclude me as a candidate."
In June, a group of 132 supporters of Dr. Paul, demanding the freedom as delegates to the upcoming Republican party national convention to cast votes for Paul, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the Republican National Committee and 55 state and territorial Republican party organizations for allegedly coercing delegates to choose Mitt Romney as the party's presidential nominee. The suit alleged that there had been "a systematic campaign of election fraud at state conventions," employing rigging of voting machines, ballot stuffing, and falsification of ballot totals. The suit further pointed to incidents at state conventions, including acts of violence and changes in procedural rules, allegedly intended to deny participation of Paul supporters in the party decision-making and to prevent votes from being cast for Paul. An attorney representing the complainants said that Paul campaign advisor Doug Wead had voiced support for the legal action. Dr. Paul himself told CNN that although the lawsuit was not a part of his campaign's strategy and that he had not been advising his supporters to sue, he was not going to tell his supporters not to sue, if they had a legitimate argument. "If they're not following the rules, you have a right to stand up for the rules. I think for the most part these winning caucuses that we've been involved in we have followed the rules. And the other side has at times not followed the rules."
BOOK IT! Let your students make their own decision and hear the unadulterated truth from someone who will tell it like it is and has not changed his message in over 30 years. Your students may support him, or they may not, but undeniably they will walk away from his talk with more knowledge about our history and political system, and a more open mind, and perhaps the motivation to change the world.
For more information on bringing Dr. Ron Paul to your students, contact Greater Talent Network, Inc. at (212) 645-4200 or firstname.lastname@example.org