A few weeks ago, a speech Congressman Ron Paul gave on the House floor in 2002 resurfaced on the web and went viral. At that time, the Bush Administration was planning for war in Iraq and a "global war on terror," the PATRIOT Act had been passed, and the Federal Reserve had lowered interest rates near zero. In the speech, Paul clearly and consisely articulates the dangers of what the U.S. was embarking on and the results that would likely occur.
Paul's predictions have come eerily true. The War on Terror has helped push the U.S. government even closer to bankruptcy, creates blowback, and costs countless lives. The PATRIOT Act twisted the 4th Amendment into a pretzel, and Paul's warnings about sacrificing liberty for security were only enhanced with the passing of the Military Commissions Act of 2006. The Federal Reserve's money printing, directed by Congress and Wall Street into housing, led to the predictable boom-and-bust cycle culminating in the crash of 2008.
Ten years after the speech, it is truly amazing how prophetic and right Paul was. All throughout his Congressional career, Paul has stood behind a podium on the House floor issuing similar warnings about the follies of unlimited government and foreign military interventionism. A look at Paul's more recent statements and speeches reveals that in ten more years, Paul will likely be proven right again and Americans will wonder why, when given two chances to elect him president, they didn't throw their support behind him.
Here are five issues on which Ron Paul is simply ahead of his time:
1. The End of the Federal Reserve System
Paul entered politics in the 1970s after taking an interest in economics, schooled by Austrian greats like Hayek, Mises, and Rothbard. Paul knew that President Nixon's closing of the gold window in 1971 was a recipe for financial disaster, and ever since then, has argued the case for sound money and balanced budgets against fractional-reserve banking and deficits. Not since Andrew Jackson shut down a central bank almost 200 years ago has someone done so much to make people aware of the consequences of fiat money. Ten years ago, Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan was the maestro, waving a magic wand of easy credit. Now Paul's speeches get interrupted to chants of "End the Fed!" and audits are being passed in the House.
With $15 trillion in debt and $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities, Paul may have a point.
History is on his side. The average fiat currency only lasts a few decades before stumbling into a fit of hyperinflation and worthless paper. Given that this August 15 will make it exactly 41 years since the U.S. cut the dollar from all ties to gold, perhaps Paul will be proved correct in sooner than a decade. That's why Paul advocates legalizing alternative currencies and competition, like gold and silver, to help save people's purchasing power as the dollar continues to plummet in value.
After the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 was passed by Congress and signed by President Obama on New Year's Eve with little attention, Paul took to the House floor and immediately denounced the legislation. It nullifies civil liberties that go back to Magna Carta, Paul noted, to give the President the authority to use the military to arrest and detain U.S. citizens without trial.
President Obama has said that he wouldn't use this power (and he would never lie, right?), but even if we take him at his word, this authority will be transferred to the next President. And given the frequency of legislation that has been passed in the last decade which essentially abolishes the Bill of Rights, the claimed power will either remain or grow. Just imagine a President Romney or President Hillary Clinton having the power to make people disappear.
Given that public protests and movements will likely grow as the effects of debt and inflation really kick in, it might be only a matter of time before enforcing "law and order" is the norm, not the exception. The Pentagon openly admits that it has prepared for war with the American people if they express their right to petition their government a little bit too emphatically.
Every campaign stump speech Paul gave during his 2012 presidential run included vehement opposition to the NDAA which will undoubtedly be seen as prophetic.
3. Obama, Democrats Are Not "Socialists"
Conservatives and Republicans like to call President Obama a socialist, and deride Obamacare as government-run medicine. Paul, on the other hand, saw the legislation for what it was: corportarism, welfare for politically-connected corporations and industries. Health care before Obama was a heavily socialized mess already, Paul argues, and it's hypocritical to oppose Obamacare so that you can replace it with Romneycare.
It is an injustice to the public that the mainstream debate is framed as "big government Democrats" and "free market Republicans." In reality, they are two parties devoted to the same basic philosophy and only quibble over what kind of socialism and corporatism we should have. Paul has used his principled understanding of economics to help peel away the myth that the American economic system even remotely resembles a free market and the contradictions of the left-right divide.
Because of Paul, millions have abandoned this false choice of Republican corporatism or Democrat corporatism, and with time, that can only increase.
4. The Follies of Empire
Paul has given so many House floor speeches and written so many articles about the terrible consequences of military interventionism overseas and non-defensive wars that there is an entire book dedicated to them.
Paul is still the only presidential candidate who openly opposes President Obama's incredibly aggressive and interventionist foreign policy, targeted assassinations, "kill lists," and secret drone warfare. America is supposed to be a commercial republic, Paul argues, a shining light and example of peace and economic prosperity to a world that desperately needs it. Lead by example, not by bombs and bribes.
Paul was laregly dismissed by conservatives for these views, even being booed in South Carolina during a Republican debate for espousing Christ's Golden Rule.
But Paul will be proven right even though the American people didn't want to hear it. Whether or not one is convinved by Paul's arguments in favor of a strong defense and diplomacy, there is simply no possible way that the U.S. Navy can continue to police every ocean, that the Army can support 1,000 foreign military bases, or that we can continue to wage multiple hot wars forever. The U.S. is borrowing almost half of every dollar from China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea to maintain this empire, and eventually the troops will have to come home.
A decade from now, many Americans will probably be wishing it was done in 2012 by President Paul out of choice and not out of financial collapse and necessity.
5. The Liberty Movement is Here to Stay
Paul's presidential campaign stump speeches, and his tone in general, tend to express a slight sense of despair and frustration. This mentality, however, is only out of legimitate concern and is always tempered by a long-term positive outlook about the future of liberty and the country. Paul, quoting Samuel Adams, knows that "It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds."
With the rise of the Internet and the spread of free and cheap information, Paul's shouts from the rooftops now have a megaphone and a printing press. Thomas Paine had pamphlets, the libertarian movement has the web and the power to circumvent the mainstream media narrative and poke holes in propaganda.
Combine that with the grassroots, decentralized organization of national delegates and Paul supporters inside state and local offices around the country, and the movement that he reluctantly led is just getting started.