One of the blessings and curses of running your own media operation is that you can choose to write about whatever you please, but you're never forced to cover anything at all. Sometimes you’re recovering from a rough night-before and want nothing more than to just take the day off, but you know there’s something going on that you really shouldn’t pass up.
This was the case when Ron Paul visited Iowa last November for the first time since his 2008 presidential campaign. Reluctantly, I rolled out of bed after a mid-afternoon nap and hopped on a bus toward Iowa State University’s Scheman Building in hope of scoring an interview for the Ames Progressive.
After speaking with Paul, I was unimpressed enough with the impromptu questions I’d asked that I never bothered to transcribe my audio recording. But a few weeks ago my friend Cole mentioned that he’d seen a video of me talking to Paul and thought it was good, so I went ahead and transcribed the interview.
It’s a bit late now to publish this in the Progressive, but it’s not as bad as I’d thought and the themes are still current, so here it is instead. (When I said, “You said,” it was in reference to Paul’s earlier responses to the other two journalists in the room.)
ME: You said that the politics of the Democratic and Republican parties haven’t changed much over the years. Do you still have faith in fighting for your message through the Republican Party, or might ultimately a Libertarian Party be better?
RON PAUL: Well, I’m not a strong partisan, and I think the parties are not as relevant as some people think. If you take the issue of, say, Keynesian economics, which has been the dominant economic teaching for 50 or 60 years, ever since the Depression, well, it goes into the Democrats and the Republican Party. Nixon said when he had closing down of the gold standard, he said we’re all Keynesians now. So it’s what the prevailing attitude is.
So if we talk about revolution, if there’s a revolution in ideas it isn’t a revolution that only affects the Republican Party. If we need some money, it needs to be supported by both parties. That’s why I’m very pleased with our approach to at least having transparency at the Federal Reserve. We have 309 cosponsors [for the bill to audit the Federal Reserve], and that includes 130 Democrats, and the rest Republicans. If that’s a good idea, it should affect both parties.
And welfarism and warfarism, fighting wars overseas and promoting the welfare state, have been bipartisan. Bush doubled the size of the Department of Education. Those ideas have to change, and they have to affect both parties, so I think philosophically there’s not a whole lot of difference. Their tone is different, and there’s some differences, but overall, policies don’t change much with one party—I mean, Obama had his platform and criticized all those things that Bush was doing [laughs], and he really hasn’t changed very much. Same old politics.
ME: The Tea Party protests are reflecting a lot of themes that are similar to themes that you espouse, in terms of individual liberties and freedom from government. But do you worry that—and they have garnered a considerable amount of grassroots momentum—but do you worry that the inflammatory rhetoric at these may be counterproductive toward defeating some of the measures that Obama and the Democrats are pushing through Congress?
PAUL: No, I think they get, you know, pretty exuberant at times, and they’re so different, every tea party’s different, and the people are made up of different views. They’re coming together because they’re upset with the government, and my goal has always been to take people who are upset or angry and channel that toward a productive change. That’s why I probably emphasize studying and reading and understanding economics and understanding our history and the Constitution as the solution rather than thinking that a lot of noise and yelling and screaming will do it. I don’t think that will solve the problems either.
ME: You also said that a lot of younger people who supported your campaign for president last cycle went to Obama after the Republican primaries were over. Do you think that it’s more about the power of personality than the message, or what do you think is the reason for that?
PAUL: That he has a lot of young people?
PAUL: Well, I think he has a powerful personality. And I think that’s very important, but the thing is, is if you have a powerful message and it’s a true message, and then you have a powerful personality and you can deliver it well, that’s the best to have. I have never been convinced that I can deliver the message better than anybody else, but I’m convinced the message is right [laughs], and that conviction is what I think convinces a lot of young people to pay more attention to it. I’m not convinced that Obama—well, I’m convinced he doesn’t have the same message—but he gets a lot of credit for his ability to, you know, get support from people. He still gets a lot of support from the people even though, you know, policies aren’t being accepted.
ME: From this point on, what do you think the best way to carry on your message is?
PAUL: Well, to me it’s what I’ve just been doing, you know, for as long as I’ve been in public life since the early 1970s: whatever’s available to me, you know, whether it’s running for Congress or starting Campaign for Liberty or coming to college campuses.
ME: Do you see anyone picking up where you left off [last election]? Maybe your son, in his campaign [in Kentucky for the U.S. Senate]?
PAUL: Well, he’s doing pretty well, and he may become a senator, so that would be significant if he did. He’s doing well.