Paul, who declared his candidacy for President in New Hampshire last Friday, said he and other advocates of limited, constitutional government are often wrongly accused of not caring about people. "Our critics say we're going to throw people out on the street," he said, "but what's going on in Washington now is going to throw a lot of people out on the street." By running up massive deficits and printing more money to cover the national debt, the government is leading the nation toward an economic collapse, he warned.
"What happens if you pass that money that has no value, and then Social Security checks bounce?" Paul asked. Violent uprisings could result, as the promised benefits in the large network of government programs are no longer provided. "I think it's very possible," he said. "I think people are going to get very angry."
Paul spent last Thursday and Friday in New Hampshire, where he announced his candidacy for President, first in an interview on ABC's Good Morning America on Friday and a few hours later at a Town Hall rally in Exeter. He later delivered the keynote address at the Grafton County Republican dinner in Lebanon. In his interview with the Sunday paper, Paul described the same belief in personal freedom and limited government that fired up the hundreds of supporters at the rally in Exeter.
"I take a strict constitutional position that the government has very little authority to get involved in our personal or economic lives," said Paul, explaining his opposition to the national "War on Drugs," as well as myriad economic regulations that limit freedom and impede the productivity of businesses both large and small. Americans "have conceded way too much to the government to decide what we put in our bodies," he said, defending his belief that even a ban on heroin is an unconstitutional overreach by the federal government. But his speeches and writings have been mostly about economic and monetary regulation and, increasingly, the manipulation of the currency by the Federal Reserve. His bill to require an audit of the "Fed" has been passed in the House, and his book End the Fed is one of several bestsellers he has penned in the past few years. Following the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in the 2010 election, Paul became chairman of the Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and the hearings he has chaired on the workings of the Federal Reserve have raised public awareness of how the agency controls interest rates and money supply.
Paul has also been a longtime critic of America's policy of military interventions all around the world. He was one of a small number of Republicans who voted in the House against the resolution that authorized President George W. Bush to take military action against Iraq, since that nation had neither attacked nor threatened the United States. In every speech, he warns against the maintenance of a worldwide military empire that he maintains is largely responsible for the massive burden of debt weighing down the American economy and threatening the nation's future.
Paul's interest in monetary policy goes back half a century or more. It grew during his first term in Congress in the mid-1970's, just a few years after President Richard Nixon had imposed the only peacetime comprehensive wage and price controls in the nation's history and severed the tie between the U.S. dollar and the gold that used to back it. While not a professional economist, the retired obstetrician has been reading and studying for decades the writings of authors prominent in what is called the Austrian school of economics, including Frederick Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and Murray Rothbard. Though economics has often been called "the dismal science" and is famous for making eyes glaze over when expounded by economists, Paul has helped make popular the libertarian economic model he champions. In the speeches he delivers around the nation, he has people from varied backgrounds and occupations on their feet and cheering his call for economic liberty and a return to "honest money," backed by gold.
A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Paul, 75, is a resident of Lake Jackson, Texas. He is serving in his 12 term as a U.S. Representative from Texas, starting with the single term he served in 1976-77. He was returned to Congress from 1979 through 1985 and again from 1997 to the present. Though a lifelong Republican, he ran for President as the nominee of the Libertarian Party in 1988 and received roughly one percent of the vote. He was little known nationally when he sought the Republican nomination for President in 2008, but the fervor and dedication of his followers and the campaign's reputation for raising millions of dollars in one-day "money bombs" on the Internet heightened awareness of Paul and his message. He received slightly more than seven percent of the vote in the 2008 New Hampshire primary and, while outlasting most of the better-known aspirants, he was generally regarded by the major news media as one of the "second-tier" candidates, below the top-tier roster that featured the more familiar names of John McCain, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani. But as he prepares to enter the Republican caucuses and primaries of the 2012 campaign, Paul and his followers believe the economic crisis of the past few years and deficits of more than $1 trillion a year are focusing American minds on economic realities and bringing to the fore his message of sound money, personal liberty and the need for a government that obeys the limits established by the Constitution of the United States.
"The groundwork has been laid," he told the New Hampshire Sunday News. "The political revolution, as a consequence of the intellectual revolution, is upon us."
Photo of Ron Paul: AP Images