After serving three separate stints in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1976, Ron Paul is retiring from Congress at the age of 77. Paul rose to national prominence in 2008 with his unsuccessful bid for the Republican Party's presidential nomination. In that campaign, Paul utilized social media and engaged in a massive college campus outreach campaign to garner support for the Liberty Movement among the millennial generation. His approach was much the same in 2012, and again legions of young Americans flocked to support him. During these two failed bids, Paul developed a cult following that will carry on after he leaves Congress in January.
Paul recently sat down with the Washington Post for an "exit interview" in which he was asked to name the most damaging special interests in Washington, D.C. Paul said there are so many but two that stand out in particular are the military-industrial complex and the banking system, including his favorite whipping post, the Federal Reserve.
In the interview, he noted the perniciousness of corporate welfare:
"You know when I first [to Congress] in 1976, I think I was under the impression that if you talked about welfare, you're talking about those people who won't work and get food stamps. But I have a completely different opinion now. That exists, and it's not healthy, but that's minor compared to the 'food stamps' that the wealthy get. The wealthy get the contracts and the special deals. And that's where I think the biggest trouble is."
Asked if he ever thought about launching a third party bid for the presidency in 2012, Paul quickly dismissed the idea. The 1988 Libertarian Party nominee said that it's "absolutely not practical" to run as a third party candidate, and that this was the wrong way to approach amending the two-party system
"You go to the campuses," said Paul. "You rally the young people. You stir up a whole generation of people. Ideas do have consequences, and that's where the good news is because the campuses are alive and well with these views and they know the system is bankrupt."
As for freedom — something that Paul has consistently fought for — Paul explained it must be actively maintained and not taken for granted.
"The concern about freedom was lost because freedom creates so much prosperity. People get complacent."