Some argue that Ron Paul was never relevant, that he was simply a gadfly who never accomplished anything legislatively. Others, myself included, argue that maybe, just maybe, the Ron Paul Revolution is the last best hope for saving the GOP from oblivion.
As I walk through airports, ride in taxis and meet people in large cities — people of color, working-class people, people with tattoos, people in overalls, people with piercings and even, at times, people in suits — I am amazed at the diversity of folks who come up and say how much they admire Ron Paul.
At rallies around the country, from the liberal bastion of Berkeley, Calif., where 8,000 students came to an event, to Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, kids from all over the political spectrum came to listen to Ron Paul.
The naysayers will point out: “He didn’t even win a primary.” This is true, but when polled directly against President Obama, Ron Paul ran neck-and-neck with an interesting demographic. In the heat of the campaign, a Feb. 28 Rasmussen poll showed him leading Mr. Obama, winning the independent vote, taking a significant part of the Democratic vote and losing a significant part of the Republican vote. He truly attracted voters across the political divide from both parties and from independents.
His colleagues in Congress would ask with envy, “How do you raise so much money from the youth? From the Internet?” The truth was much more revealing. College students, welders, carpenters, maids, blacks, whites and Hispanics latched onto Ron Paul’s unique message of fiscal conservatism, personal privacy and liberty and a less bellicose foreign policy, one of taking care of things at home before sending our soldiers and our money abroad. It is and was the message that attracted the youth, the message that combined the fiscal conservatism and limited constitutional government of Republicans and a more restrained foreign policy sometimes exhibited by Democrats.
When the GOP examines itself to try to regain its mojo, I hope Republicans will look at the message of Ron Paul, because as it stands now, the GOP is a dinosaur that can’t compete on the West Coast, in New England or in the Great Lakes region. Before the powers that be call for abandoning our limited-government principles, maybe we should look at how Ron Paul adhered more consistently to the first principles of our founders and, in the process, found a unique and diverse coalition that actually could have competed in a world not controlled by a two-party system.
In 1984, my father wrote a farewell address when he left Congress for the first time. He went back to delivering babies for 12 years. He didn’t think he would ever return to government. At that time, he wrote:
“Thousands of men and women have come and gone here in our country’s history, and except for the few, most go unnoticed and remain nameless in the pages of history, as I am sure I will be. The few who are remembered are those who were able to grab the reins of power and, for the most part, use that power to the detriment of the nation. We must remember that achieving power is never the goal sought by a truly free society. Dissipation of power is the objective of those who love liberty.”
While his conclusion is still true — dissipation of power is and should be the objective of those who love liberty — the idea that my father will remain nameless in the pages of history is far from accurate. You may not see highways or schools named after Ron Paul. Pundits may not refer to the Ron Paul bill (that is, unless by some miracle Sen. Harry Reid lets us vote to audit the Fed). My father’s imprint will not be in Washington but in the minds of the millions of today’s youth who found the message of liberty through a certain congressman from Texas.
For inspiring a new generation to love the ideas of liberty, we all owe a debt of gratitude to my father, the champion of liberty, Ron Paul.
Sen. Rand Paul is a Kentucky Republican.
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