The Retirement of Ron Paul

Opinion   /   November 28, 2012  / 


Once in a generation, America encounters a non-traditional politician like Ron Paul.

As a presidential candidate, Ron Paul was principled, but unelectable. Most of his ideas involved taking a sledgehammer to voters’ most cherished assumptions. Most of his political proposals, such as shuttering the Department of Education, were too radical for the average voter to contemplate. He offered a vision that was abstract, futuristic, and conditional on America pursuing a path far different from the one it has pursued for the past four decades.

Ron Paul didn’t have the tools to appeal to most voters. Most voters do not have the inclination to develop complex or unorthodox political opinions, which require significant investments of time, energy, and intellectual effort. Rather, most people base their votes on instinct or emotion. In the process, they usually treat voting as an act of consumption—a way to signal one’s tastes, preferences, and identities.

This is why most voters are susceptible to sound bites, smears, and 30 second ads. This is also why most voters gravitate towards politicians who exude optimism, charm, dynamism, and youthful energy.

But Ron Paul was not an optimist. Indeed, it didn’t help that he often spoke of economic catastrophe and systemic collapse.

“Our present monetary system is failing. The time is ripe for fundamental monetary reform,” Ron Paul wrote in his 1982 book, The Case for Gold.

But Ron Paul had spoken too soon. In the years that have followed, America experienced booms under Reagan, Clinton, and Bush II. The Dow soared from 1,000 points in 1982 to 14,000 in 2007. And for decades, Ron Paul has been dismissed as a crank by most voters, pundits, and the mainstream media.

That being said, Ron Paul’s ideas still contain a grain of truth. Basically, he thinks that the Fed prints too much currency, and that because of the resulting inflationary effect, the U.S. dollar is beginning to resemble Monopoly money.

That’s not crazy. It’s a defensible economic argument.

This does not mean that America should abolish the Fed. But it should be said that Ron Paul, a man who kept most of his investments in gold and silver mining stocks, has prospered by sticking to his principles. Seven years ago, you could buy gold for $420 an ounce and silver for $7. But today, gold has soared over $1,600, and silver over $32. That’s an annual rate of return exceeding 20 percent for both metals for the past seven years. How many stocks, bonds, or bank accounts pay that sort of rate?

No doubt some of Ron Paul’s ideas are impractical, like his suggestion that America leave the United Nations and NATO. However, a number of his basic points are based on defensible premises. For instance, he thinks that too many Americans have died fighting other people’s wars—a perfectly respectable anti-war position. He also thinks that the government wastes too much money—a perfectly respectable anti-debt position.

Ron Paul was not destined to become president because he lacked the pragmatism to build a winning political coalition. However, he is a principled politician who has thought deeply about America’s future, and some of his ideas could be integrated into a credible platform for future national elections. And even as Ron Paul steps into retirement, he leaves behind a comprehensive philosophical legacy and millions of energetic followers.

Plus, his son Rand is in the Senate. Apples don’t fall far from trees.

Chris Seck is a 3L. His column runs on Wednesdays

The views in opinion editorials, columns, and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of The Record.

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12 Responses to The Retirement of Ron Paul

  1. ‘He offered a vision that was abstract, futuristic…’

    A vision that requires an intellectual revolution.

    How long until we place the individual entity above all else, in order to embrace our brothers and sisters on earth with love and respect?

    Encourage a belief in self until it becomes ‘common sense’.

    Dr Paul…a great man for humanity.

    • It really is just that isn’t it? Unless we are free to pursue our own ends, we will never be able to realize our dreams. The problem with all collectivist systems is that they place the values of the group above the individual, and it does not matter if the system is socialist or fascist in nature. The problem with these systems is simple; now we have a powerful group with the backing of the state deciding what is “utopia” and doing it at the individual’s expense. There is no way for the group to impose their views, no matter what they are, without violating the individual’s freedom and natural rights. Thus freedom really is the only way we can respect each other as individuals.

  2. Ron Paul is a hero. A brave and true america. So to say anything less is false and it saddens me to my soul that more well spoken people like the writer of this artical were not able to see that these ideas that he claims are so radical are the only thing left to mend the hole draining the life blood of this once great country. Congressmen Paul’s voice and votes will be missed from the house floor.

  3. “He offered a vision that was abstract, futuristic, and conditional on America pursuing a path far different from the one it has pursued for the past four decades.”

    His vision was actually the same vision as the founders of our nation, so to say it was futuristic isn’t entirely accurate. In addition, I do not see how his ideas were impractical. What is impractical is borrowing money in china to finance a debtor nation’s welfare/warfare state.

  4. It is interesting that you use Dow points to denote value of goods added and the prematurely of his argument for commodity based currency. The Dow point system is only a weighted representation of 30 major corporations stocks in dollars, not their value per say. Thus your argument really does play directly to his argument, and so closely that maybe you have misunderstood what was being said. Take some other commodity other than Gold or Silver… say a dozen eggs. I can find the cost of a dozen eggs in dollars over the last ten years just as a quick example. Now it is unlikely that you would want the US to go on the Egg Standard, but if you did you could say that a dozen eggs in 2012 are just that, and it should be roughly equal to a dozen eggs in 2002 in absolute value, contrasted with a dollar value. The argument being made is that we still like eggs as much as 2002, and we still use eggs like we did in 2002, thus they are “valued” approximately the same to a consumer. In 2002 eggs related to dollars were an average of $0.97, now they are $1.96. If eggs were the only “stock” in your Dow point calculation, then the Dow has gone up 100% since ’02. Thus, because this point scale is relative to dollars, it is not a good representation of value of goods added since the Dow points would go to infinity if the value of the dollar were perceived to be zero. This is the argument.

  5. What you wrote is fair and unfortunately true. People don’t want to read. They want to be entertained. RP is only entertaining after you take the time to research the real issues. Pretty sad when there are so many free resources on the internet to look up what RP had to say.

  6. The Author is no doubt a Neo-con and does not understand Ron Paul was a shoe in candidate to beat Obama however he was cheated by the republican party who owed a favor to Mitt Romney for backing off in 2008 so McCain could have a chance to loose. The republican party has paid the price. The People will take back this country in the next election if not before. It will no longer be a 2 party system.

  7. Ron Paul is the Galileo of our time.

  8. The Revolution unfolding before us is as centuries in the making. WIth great respect… Thank you Ron Paul. I look forward to your future ideas as Chairman of the Campaign for Liberty.

  9. I know they intended this article to be a healthy criticism of Ron Paul, but actually it is a slam dunk derogatory characterization of the voting public. When you listen to Ron Paul explain why our government has “stayed the course”, no matter the direction, he basically says something similar. People just want their stuff, whether it be Wall Street or Main Street people, and they were not going to vote for change because then they would not have their stuff. Also, there is that old saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. The old dog being our political system.

  10. If candidate A gets 500 votes and candidate B gets 2000 votes and then 1000 of candidate B’s votes are assigned to candidate A, then candidate A will have 1500 votes and B will have 1000, rendering B unelectable. This is not over. It has just begun.

  11. What about Ralph Nader? More than Ron Paul, Nader is the true ultimate politician.

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