American Decline

Ron Paul: ‘Our Constitution Has Failed’

By Chris Good

  • Ron Paul: 'Our Constitution Has Failed' (ABC News)Rep. Ron Paul, the iconic libertarian congressman from Texas, has delivered what will most likely be his final address to Congress.

In a sprawling, 52-minute speech to the House chamber, Paul lambasted U.S. government, politicians and special interests, declaring that the U.S. people must return to virtue before the government allows them to be free, and that the Constitution has failed to limit the scope of an authoritarian bureaucracy.

“Our Constitution, which was intended to limit government power and abuse, has failed,” Paul said. “The Founders warned that a free society depends on a virtuous and moral people. The current crisis reflects that their concerns were justified.”

For the retiring Republican, 77, the “current crisis” isn’t quite what it is for other members of Congress, who routinely use that word to describe the economic recession that followed the 2008 financial crash. To the Texas Republican, that’s part of it, but the causes are deeper, and it’s also a crisis of governmental authoritarianism and the vanishing of personal liberty.

“If it’s not accepted that big government, fiat money, ignoring liberty, central economic planning, welfarism, and warfarism caused our crisis, we can expect a continuous and dangerous march toward corporatism and even fascism with even more loss of our liberties,” said Paul, an obstetrician-gynecologist by training.

The problem isn’t just government’s size, but its use of force, both in starting preemptive wars and as it coerces U.S. citizens with police power. To Paul, this is the fault of Americans who no longer prioritize liberty, and it will lead to the unraveling of orderly society unless people change.

“Restraining aggressive behavior is one thing, but legalizing a government monopoly for initiating aggression can only lead to exhausting liberty associated with chaos, anger and the breakdown of civil society,” Paul said. “We now have a standing army of armed bureaucrats in the TSA, CIA, FBI, Fish and Wildlife, FEMA, IRS, Corp of Engineers, etc., numbering over 100,000 civil society.”

More than coercive, to Paul the government is also corrupt: “All branches of our government today are controlled by individuals who use their power to undermine liberty and enhance the welfare/warfare state-and frequently their own wealth and power,” he said.

Throughout his speech, Paul questioned not only the fundamental health of America’s social compact, but specifics like fiat money, the power of the Federal Reserve, the PATRIOT Act, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act modifications, undeclared war, the illegalization of medical marijuana, mandatory sentencing requirements for drug crimes, the illegalization of hemp, TSA searches, federal debt and borrowing, the White House’s authority to assassinate those it declares terrorists, the legalization of detaining U.S. citizens for national-security purposes, the political power of AIPAC, and the regulation of light bulbs and toilets in people’s homes.

For Paul, the list of grievances is long, and he might not have accomplished much in Congress: “In many ways, according to conventional wisdom, my off-and-on career in Congress, from 1976 to 2012, accomplished very little,” he said. “No named legislation, no named federal buildings or highways, thank goodness. In spite of my efforts, the government has grown exponentially, taxes remain excessive, and the prolific increase of incomprehensible regulations continues. Wars are constant and pursued without congressional declaration.”

In thinking about the champions of liberty, his lesson is a bitter one: “History has shown that the masses have been quite receptive to the promises of authoritarians which are rarely if ever fulfilled,” but his prescription is hopeful.

Paul left the podium, for the last time, offering an “answer” to all of these problems: that people should choose liberty and limit government, and seek change within themselves.

“The number one responsibility for each of us is to change ourselves with hope that others will follow,” Paul said, urging an end to two motives that have hindered U.S. society: envy and intolerance.

“I have come to one firm conviction after these many years of trying to figure out the plain truth of things. The best chance for achieving peace and prosperity, for the maximum number of people worldwide, is to pursue the cause of liberty. If you find this to be a worthwhile message, spread it throughout the land.”

Categories: American Decline

3 replies »

  1. I hope we’ll hear a bit more about what the kind of personal change he advocates actually means. I’ve been a supporter of the Ron Paul movement from the get-go, and it has been awesome to witness people really run with his message of personal liberty and anti-government wariness. I’d love to see this consciousness transform or expand into something bigger than anti-Fed, anti-empire, anti-tax angst.

    The movement has always attracted certain unhinged types. I don’t think they’re unhinged because of their interests. I’m a big advocate of theorizing about conspiracies, and I don’t fault people for their interest. Similarly, austrian economics, anti-empire advocacy, drug war peace, etc. are all legitimate and pressing issues to tackle. You need the crazy to keep the energy up to some degree, especially through the insanity of a hopeless Presidential campaign.

    But I’ve long lamented a tension that I’ve noticed in myself and in others. It’s more than curious that those of us who prize personal political liberty so greatly spend so much of it on the thing we’re trying to fight. Has it gotten to the point where the big, bad government has not just become the enemy, but the enemy that gives the good guys their raison d’etre, their very definition, in the first place?

    As you see the liberty movement normalizing slowly but surely in the GOP, I’m afraid that there will be a “grounding” of sorts that will occur. But it’s going to be a diaspora of the serious, politically ambitious from the movement and into the Republicans’ arms. Meanwhile, the grassroots will continue their fixation on the outrageous and political without perhaps realizing that liberty more directly in their own lives.

    The individuals participating in the Ron Paul movement need to be grounded in the personal and human in order to bring what is precious and worth fighting for into the cynical and distorting political arena with any fidelity. The alternative is a movement that constantly defines itself as the rejection of the big, bad establishment. The folks trying to take over the GOP need a GOP against them, otherwise they don’t know who they are. Similarly, the folks fighting the Fed, police tyranny, war propaganda, etc. need those things to give their voice relevance.

    What I hope can happen is that both of those dynamics are tempered by activists who start to actually live their own lives as they choose, and not live them as a perpetual fuck you to the establishment. The latter is really tempting for those of us who prize our autonomy, but we need to take personal responsibility for ourselves and spend at least as much time understanding that sense of self as the forces that try to limit it.

  2. He is the leader we needed, at the right time; leading up to the liberation of information. This man articulated the message. It’s all over the Internet. Thanks to Mises, Rothbard, and now countless others, we have an even more solid foundation than the Founders had. We can improve on their work. Yes, difficult times are looming, but they will awaken millions more. Let’s keep doing what we’re doing, and when all the looting is done, ours will be the most energetic movement.

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