A Principled Politician

I dislike politicians. I don’t trust people who are so desperately eager to run others’ lives.

But Rep. Ron Paul is different. He wants government to leave us alone.

He promoted the benefits of limited government and free markets long before I’d even thought about them.

I first interviewed Paul in 2007. ABC News wouldn’t broadcast it. They only played it online. Now everything’s online. I like it better that way.

This week I released a new, longer video with Paul.

Paul ran for president three times, losing first as a Libertarian — and then twice as a Republican. The second time, he won 10% of the primary vote.

I then thought Americans were finally coming to appreciate libertarianism. The New York Times Magazine even asked, “Has the ‘Libertarian Moment’ Finally Arrived?”

That was the kiss of death.

Libertarian candidates now get fewer votes than Paul got in 2012.

“Did you make progress?” I ask him.

Paul says his goal was to get people to think about freedom. He’s succeeded there, at least somewhat.

Paul first got politically active in 1971, when President Richard Nixon took the U.S. dollar off the gold standard.

“The money issue touches every aspect of liberty,” says Paul. “If you’re inclined to think that we’re in too many wars, well, there wouldn’t be — if they couldn’t just print money for it.”

Now the Federal Reserve does just print more money. When Paul first went to Congress, he says, “nobody cared about the Federal Reserve.”

His presidential campaigns brought attention to the Fed, and the liberty movement, especially from young people. In fact, Paul came in first place among young people in almost every Republican primary.

But now Sen. Bernie Sanders is most popular among the young. I remind Paul, “young people today say they prefer socialism to capitalism.”

Paul responds, “There’s more socialist professors.”

Although Paul was always anti-war, after 9/11, he joined the congressional majority and voted to send soldiers to Afghanistan. He wanted to find and punish the people responsible for the attack and get right out.

“That did not mean (America) had the authority to occupy and try to transform Afghanistan,” says Paul. Yet that’s what American politicians tried to do.

In a 2007 Republican presidential debate, the audience booed Paul when he suggested that the U.S. was attacked because “we’ve been bombing Iraq for 10 years … what would happen if somebody did it to us?”

Candidate Rudy Giuliani won applause responding, “That’s really an extraordinary statement … I don’t think I’ve ever heard that before. And I’ve heard some pretty absurd explanations for Sept. 11.”

Really? Giuliani hadn’t heard that explanation before?

Then he wasn’t paying attention. Osama bin Laden long complained about Westerners occupying the Middle East. “Expel them in defeat and humiliation from the holy places of Islam,” he wrote.

Posting American soldiers in other people’s countries is certainly a serious provocation. I’d be mad if Chinese soldiers patrolled my street.

Giuliani won the debate applause, but 15 months later, no delegates. Paul won 21 delegates.

But today American politicians still want to police the world. The United States has 750 bases in 80 countries. Paul calls the military industrial complex “the most deadly PAC.”

Last month, President Joe Biden sent 3,000 soldiers to Eastern Europe saying, “As long as (Putin’s) acting aggressively, we are going to make sure we can reassure our NATO allies and Eastern Europe that we’re there.”

“That’s garbage,” Paul responds. “By what right do we go over there? There’s no national security. We had troops in Saudi Arabia for national security and look at what that brought … it has nothing to do with helping Americans, except those who might get a better paycheck.”

I push back. “President Biden would say, ‘We have to go there just to deter Russia. If we don’t, we’re inviting them to invade other countries.'”

We shouldn’t let government scare us into going to war, says Paul. “Fear is the tool of totalitarians.” Paul’s anti-war arguments have shifted public opinion. Today we might be fighting in Ukraine if it were not for Ron Paul and his warnings about the risk of America policing the world.

Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore

10 thoughts on “A Principled Politician

  1. Anti-Abortionist Ron Paul In 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2011 introduced the Sanctity of Life Act, which would have defined life as beginning at conception at the Federal level.

    Seems pretty eager to run people’s lives because of his religion. Seems just like the rest of them. Somehow, I don’t think you’ll re-evaluate your assessment.

    1. How do you feel about rape being illegal? Is that somehow “running people’s lives” (poor rapists!)? Preventing someone from ending the life of someone else is not “running people’s lives”. It is protecting them, which is the only valid role of government.

    2. It’s not about running peoples laws, Maus. It’s about savings lives, the lives of those babies that are lost in abortion.

    3. Never under estimate the amount of justifications some people will spout in order to end the life of innocent infants for their selfish convenience. unconscionable….

  2. both of you are so important to the direction of this country, The United States Of America. Thank You John Stossel for this great piece. will be sharing it around.

  3. War is the easy answer. But if we ever want peace, we have to say no to making other nations do what we want.

  4. Paul is correct that the West invites attacks because the West ignores the foreshadowing that political leaders around the world present. Professor John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago gave a lecture in 2015 that could have been given last week. NATO in Ukraine has been dangled in front of Russia for over twenty years and Putin has made more than one statement indicating he would take action if it wasn’t stopped. His actions are dismal but the West was aware of his position and called Putin’s bluff. The Monroe doctrine and the Cuban Missile crisis are important aspects of what is taking place. Ignoring Putin was the wrong tactic. R. James

  5. Met Ron Paul a few times, voted for him every chance I could, heard him speak at a rally, and can’t say enough good things about him. Very principled man. As for Commenter 1 above, Ron Paul was a doctor (OB/GYN) before becoming a politician. He delivered over 5,000 babies, one of which was one of our neighbors (pretty amazing…). Anyway, according to his principles as a libertarian, Christian, and DOCTOR he firmly believes that all human LIFE has value and all human beings have the RIGHT to exist. Like many other people, Ron Paul believes that the human being being developed in the womb has the same rights as human beings who come to term before coming out of the womb as a completely developed human being. To 1 – If you believe you have the right to extinguish the life of another human being, that is your opinion, and you have the right to free speech and expressing your opinion. But, many others believe in the RIGHT TO LIFE and extend that right to those who happen to be incubating in a womb. All human beings begin that way (at the moment of conception, that is how you started…). Yet, some science deniers define the beginning as only when the human comes out of the womb. Biology says otherwise. And, that is, a human being is a human being at the moment of conception. Follow the science.

  6. Thomas Martin has hit the nail on the head. People are too non-chalant about abortion….as if it’s the cure to having as many sexual partners as you can.

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