By Jay Conley
Former U.S. Representative and three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul, R-Texas, instructed GW students Monday night to take an active role not so much in politics but in creating the ideas that shape politics to improve America’s future.
“Politicians can play a role. They can move us in a certain direction. But if politicians are involved only for the sake of gaining power, it doesn’t work,” he said. “It’s the ideas that matter. The political parties are the vehicle for transporting new ideas and policies.”
A physician before he entered politics in 1976, Dr. Paul was invited by GW’s College Republicans and Student Association to speak in Lisner Auditorium about civil liberties, fiscal policy and reflect on his experiences in Congress. He is an advocate for limited constitutional government, low taxes, free markets and a return to sound monetary policies based on commodity-backed currency.
“I hear there is a revolution going on in this country. I guess the question is, what are we revolting against, and what are we going to replace it with?” said Dr. Paul. “It’s not complex. It’s just the restoration of the principles and dedication to individual freedom.”
Dr. Paul expressed his concern over what he described as increased government encroachment on Americans’ civil liberties. As an example, in much the same way that prohibition didn’t deter people from consuming alcohol in the early 20th century, Dr. Paul said the war on drugs has been a complete failure. He said long sentences for drug convictions and excessive amounts of tax dollars spent on drug busts haven’t deterred those who use drugs like marijuana.
“We need to reject this idea that a vice is a crime and we’re going to put people in jail for it,” he said.
Dr. Paul had a similar view regarding marriages for same-sex couples, arguing that the definition of marriage shouldn’t be defined by the federal government.
“I think people should have the right to do what they want as long as they don’t force themselves on others. The government should be out of it,” he said.
Dr. Paul also opposes what he described as an escalation of the heavy-handed use of force by federal agents, citing instances in which food suppliers were arrested at gunpoint for selling raw, unpasteurized milk.
“I hate to disappoint you but I’m for a little gun control. We should take away the guns from federal bureaucrats,” he said.
Regarding sequestration, Dr. Paul said it has become the latest of so many recent government crises that people hardly pay attention anymore.
“It’s a failed system of endless borrowing, endless spending and endless printing of money,” he said. “It can’t continue and will fail eventually.”
“I have never seen him, even once, waiver from his strong commitment to freedom and liberty,” said Rep. Duncan. “And I can tell you that even those who were on the opposite side, and those who disagreed with him on almost every vote, admired his courage and his dedication.”