Last weekend, Ron Paul attended a small meet and great in East Grand Rapids hosted by the Kent County GOP.
Ron Paul: Thank you. It is good to be here. Back at home in Texas, it would be a smaller backyard, and also we wouldn’t be standing outside. Out there this time of the year it is probably around 97 degrees 97% humidity. Anyway, we made a choice […] to visit here, as a matter of fact we’re in town today because we’re having a family reunion. My brother lives here, there are five boys in my family. We rotate around and we go to one of the brothers’ home and have a reunion each year. So Dave is standing back here, he raised his hand. He came here to retire as a minister in some church in Detroit, some place near Detroit, some place like that. He said to really enjoy life he had to get out of Detroit. So I went to Detroit, Carol and I lived in Detroit for two years. I was in the hospital for medical training, I wasn’t very glad to leave because they drafted me, they hauled me off to the military. My wife, Carol is sitting over here. We’re delighted to be here, and it’s very nice to come and meet friends and supporters.
Some people think that Michigan has become so liberal and so big-government oriented, you can’t possibly have any support in Michigan. For the Campaign for Liberty a lot of financial support has come from Michigan, so there are some true believers and it looks like we have a nice group of true believers here. It is a real pleasure to be here.
I have been asked over the years, “How do you balance between voting a certain way and sticking to principles, and trying to get reelected?” The members of Congress will say, “I sort of agree with you on that, I wish I could go that way, but I would have a heck of a time going back home and explaining those votes, and I wouldn’t get elected. So even though you’re right, I’m going to vote wrong because I want to get reelected.”
And there are a lot explanations for that. But Carol had something to do with that because not too many years ago while I guess I was trying to get back into office in 1996, she came up with this idea about a family cookbook. And I said, “What in the world you want a family cookbook for?” And she said, “Oh well, we’ll put the family recipes in there and pictures of the kids and that sort of thing,” and I said, “Nobody cares about that stuff. They want to hear speeches about the Exchanges Stabilization Fund and the IMF and the World Bank.” And guess what, that cookbook probably got more votes than my speeches.
So there’s a lot of politics, I think it is working to rally politics, and that is for your financial support and your dedicated work. That’s certainly what we had in the presidential campaign; a lot of dedicated people, enthusiastic financial support.
For the most part most of the people who do the voting never get involved. How many times have you met somebody about a day before the election, and you think they will know a little bit more about the candidates, and they will come and ask, “Hey, what do you think about this?” And they’ll walk in the last minute to vote and say, “Oh, I’m a Democrat so I’ll vote for a Democrat” and they don’t think much about it. So I just work on the assumption that’s the way it’s going to be. But for the most part people are energized in conventional politics, by power politics; who controls the power, how do you raise the money, and how do you satisfy the people who support the candidate.
But mine is a little bit different, because I want to get people energized not because I can deliver them some stuff back, but because I want to deliver something like freedom back to the individual, which is quite a bit different. And this works quite well, even though there are a lot of skeptics in Washington who say, “That’s not the way to do it, you can’t do it. If you do this all the time you might have to vote against your party” and a couple of times I’ve had to do that.
But the whole thing is the moment your party is in power it is more difficult, because the litmus test there is party loyalty and I understand that, but I just happen to disagree that that’s what we’re supposed to do. We’ve taken an oath of office to obey the Constitution. If you have a moral and economic firm belief in something, and you tell the people this is what you believe in… if you believe in free markets and less taxes and hard money and all these things, then you go and you dedicate yourself to how you get along with the party leadership so you can get an appointment on this committee so you can get some more appropriations for your district that will make you more powerful and get you reelected easily.
And if I had to do it that way, believe me, I would have nothing to do with politics. And actually, I was pretty well convinced that there was no future at all for me in politics. The first time I decided to run, after I was drafted and went to Texas and I was there, I stayed in the military for a total – with reserve – for 5 years. I finally went back and got my OBGYN residency. It was 3 or 4 years into that when I told Carol I want to run for Congress, because it was about that time that we had major economic crisis in the 1970s.
The Bretton Woods system broke down, the gold standard was abandoned and I said, “This is going to unleash an unbelievable amount of spending and deficits and inflation” and all these things that have come about. And so my wife said, “What you want to do that for?” and I said, “I want to talk about economics.” She said, “It’s a dangerous thing to do, you could end up getting elected.” And I told her back then she’s absolutely wrong, she had no idea. But she said, “No, the people will listen to you because they know you’re telling the truth and they will vote for you,” and so it told me that maybe there are enough people out there that are going to listen and respond in this manner.
I think politicians, generally, look down on the constituency and the people that they have to pander and say things and if you’re there to represent them and you have an understanding, in a republic we’re supposed to study the issue and respond and give you the information and explanation, rather than saying, “Well, how would the majority interest respond? How does the money operate? How do I get the money back again?” But this, as far as I’m concerned, has worked for me because many times I don’t have a Democratic opponent and it’s a marginal district. I do get some challenges; we’ll have a challenge this time from Republicans because they don’t think I’m “Republican enough.” It’s worth the effort, so I think it should be encouraging.
The other thing that should encourage us is, you know… there’s an awful lot of frustration. Already today people are saying, “How do you put up with that? How do you stand it? The system doesn’t work, it’s broken. What are they going to do? We don’t have enough time. When are they going to do balance the budget, when are they going to do all these things?” And I said “Well, the system is still available to us,” and a good example is what we’ve done. Probably every one of you… and that is dealing with calling the attention of the American people to the importance of the Federal Reserve System. Here we have HR 1207 to audit the Federal Reserve, for the first time
in the history of almost hundred years all of the Republicans have done it.
They have now joined us, I didn’t have to join and do the wrong things, they have joined and are doing the right thing. We have nearly a hundred Democrats doing this. So we’ve changed the grassroots. I have not twisted one arm, I will ask a few people but I’m just not made up to go and do the routine lobbying. Because most of the lobbying for bills is, “If you vote for this and do this, and I’ll do this.” You know, it’s a trade off. And so the grassroots really made all the difference.
So you can see that if the whole country would wake up on all the issues – and they sort of are. I think the people are waking up on Obama’s medical care. And if we’re successful there and tone that down a little bit. And the trade bill, Cap and Trade; that’s been held up a little bit. These are monstrous pieces of legislation and it would precipitate a much worse recession if these things get passed. So I look at this not as a political problem. From the very beginning, first running, to talk about monetary issues, to me it’s an educational issue. It’s getting people to believe that limited government, free markets, property rights are the way you take care of people. And we as conservatives and libertarians and constitutionalists, I can’t understand why we lose the moral argument.
But it happens. We are seen as people who don’t care. “Oh yeah, you just voted against increasing food stamps from a hundred billion to two hundred billion. Oh, you don’t care about the poor people.” Well, it turns out that when you subsidize something, the more you get. So, if you subsidize people who aren’t being taken care of either by themselves or their neighbors or their churches, you’re going to get a lot more. And, of course, that’s how welfare is prone to be out of control.
So, if we approach it more philosophically I think that is ultimately the answer. People have to understand that interventionism, Keynesian economic policies, doesn’t help the people. It’s not just a punishment of the rich, as they like to paint it, it’s the punishment of the poor. Inflation wipes out the middle class and yet today we had one of the members of the Federal Reserve board talking about “consumer protection” and he said, “We need a new agency to protect the consumer against all these things.” I went into this and said, “The best thing you can do is have sound money. If you have unsound money the first thing you do is lower interest rates to 1%.”
So what if you’re on retirement, you have some CDs and the market says you should make 5%. But because of the government coming in and saying, “Oh no, the businessmen and the bankers need 1%.” You’re cheating. Who are you cheating? You’re cheating the people who saved money. At the same time, who do you cheat when you lose the value of the currency? You cheat the average middle class.
Right now today there is a policy in Mexico because they’ve been through this so many times, if you don’t want to get stung again with the peso going to zero, you can put your money in a silver account. And all we need to do here is not close the Fed down tomorrow, we just legalize freedom, legalize our option to deal in a competing currency and the computers can take care of all the calculations minute-to-minute. We trade currencies on the international markets all the time, and there’s never a problem. But somebody tries it and they go to jail and they get their gold and silver confiscated. The monopoly is on the government. Eventually though what we have to do is convince people that Keynes was absolutely wrong, that the Austrian economists like Mises and Hayek and Rothbard are exactly right. And if you care about poor people and you care about the middle class, you have to and endorse this.
Right now we have the opportunity because I talk to them all the time and I say, “With all these housing programs and all this affirmative action, who is losing their houses? The poor people. They’re the ones who are getting dumped out of their houses. And what about the mortgage companies and insurance companies and people like Goldman Sachs? Who’s bailing them out? The people that survived and saved money. The car companies that ran their companies differently, they get taxed to take care of somebody else because of the process.
It’s just a system that is doomed to fail, it is failing. Though instead of being despondent it’s an opportunity to present our case; our case for the free market. Now why is this so strange? It’s American, it’s what used to happen in America. We had very limited federal government, we used to have gold as a currency, we used to not be the policeman of the world. I don’t think we can address any of these things as long as we think we have to be the policeman of the world. And I think this is probably the biggest issue and the greatest challenge in the Republican Party.
The Republican Party not doing well, I don’t know if you noticed. And it reminds me of the first year I ran. It was 1974, I wasn’t elected then, but I remember that was Watergate year. And when I was elected a year later, there were still only a 185 Republicans in the Congress. And now, I don’t know, I think Republicans could probably pick up a few seats. But psychologically we’re not a whole not better off than it was in 1974.
But the question is, “Why aren’t the Republicans doing a little bit better?” I meet a lot of people, I talk to a lot, and I see them coming to my office all the time. And guess which groups come the most. The college kids, the high school kids. 15 to 25 is where the greatest enthusiasm is, and they like what the Campaign for Liberty is doing, and they like what I’ve been saying. Again, it’s not what the Republican Party has been saying.
Guess what is the place where the Republican Party right now hurts the most? It’s between 15 and 25. The future generation of people moving into takeover, they are the most turned off with the Republican Party. Part of it is the fact that they lost credibility because we had our chance. We had a house and a senate and a presidency. We were supposed to cut back on the size of government, we were supposed to balance the budget. In the year 2000 we said Clinton was a warmonger, he was in Serbia and he was in Somalia, and we didn’t need policing the world, we didn’t need to be involved in all these internal affairs, and we did it even more.
And likewise when Obama comes along he takes the Republican speeches from the year 2000, he comes across as saying, “I’m going to have a more sensible foreign policy.” He gets elected, now he’s making the policies even more worse. And I don’t think the American people want it, I don’t think the Republican Party should support it. Besides, we can’t afford it and it’s all going to come to an end. All great nations have come to an end because of overextension oversees.
So, the argument should be easily made that we do need money. We do need money in this country. We can’t get rid of all the programs we might consider unconstitutional, and I don’t pretend to do that. As a matter of fact, I don’t pretend to say that the right thing to do right now is to close down the Fed tomorrow, to kind of legalize the competition.
But we have a lot of people dependent on government programs, whether it’s the poor getting some medical care, the elderly who have adapted to the government taking care of them. But we’re still running out of money and Medicare is totally bankrupt. But we’re still spending a trillion dollars a year oversees. And we’re making our defenses even more diminished. We’re under greater threat because of this.
Just think, why don’t we cut some of that? I could easily find a hundred billion to cut. Cut a hundred billion, put 50 billion to the deficit, put 50 million dollars to take care of only the people that have really been victimized by this system. Take care of them. It would mean that we would not be badgering every country in the world what to do. You know, right now we are being told that we have to really, really get tough with the Iranians. You know, the Iranians can’t even make gasoline for themselves, and they’re trying to tell us they’re about ready to invade us and send a nuclear weapon up here. They don’t have it. Saddam Hussein didn’t have it, and yet just think of all the killing and all the expenses going on and our troops are not going to leave Iraq. There are more being sent to Afghanistan, we’re spreading the war into Pakistan. Now we want to take on Iran. When we get back to September, you wait and see there’s going to be a resolution coming on really hard on the people, on the average citizen of Iran because we’re going to cut off their gasoline supply. And the argument goes this way: if we get people so upset because they have no gasoline, they’re all going to throw out the ayatollah.
It doesn’t work that way. It unifies them against the enemy, just as we became rightfully unified on 9/11. We weren’t Republicans or Democrats, we hated the attackers as though some foreigner came in and attacked. So that’s the way they react. What we do then is we undermine the dissidence, the opposition. There’s a strong opposition there. We don’t need our fingerprint on it. And our CIA is involved in there. We spent about $400 million over there in the last several years trying to undermine their system of government. We’re always involved in this election. Our founders didn’t believe in it, a lot of Republicans didn’t believe in it until a few years ago, Robert Taft didn’t believe in it, the Old Right didn’t believe in it. The Constitution doesn’t authorize it. Its foolishness, we’re bankrupt, and besides it offers us an opportunity to come around to a sensible approach and come back to taking care of some people and getting back on our feet.
In the meantime, if we cut enough spending then we can do those other things that will really stimulate the economy. That is like, getting rid of the IRS and the income tax. And that was one of my proposals when the economic crisis became apparent. I said, “Even if we don’t get rid of it, let’s just suspend the income tax.” Just think that every individual in the country would have more money in their pocket. It probably would have cost less than these trillions of dollars. Not only did we appropriate the money, but trillions of dollars in Federal Reserve issued. That would have been a lot cheaper, but then you would have a chance to make up your own mind and, quite frankly, in Washington they don’t think you’re smart enough to know how to spend your money.
There was a bill on the floor which had to do with consumer protection. It was more intervention: “Make sure the consumer is protected from the big government”. Not by honest money but by more regulations. And I asked him, “And why are we doing this? Why don’t they let people make up their own minds about the regulations that work?” He said, “They’re stupid. People are stupid.” That thought is totally embedded in them. And that is why some of them really think that you don’t have enough sense to know how to spend your money and need to be taken care of. They think that in social things too. That’s why we have, you know, the cigarette police, and thought police, the political-correctness police. Everything on and on because you’re going to do something wrong and make a wrong decision.
Freedom is the opposite thing. Freedom brings people together because it recognizes it’s your personal life, personal lifestyle and your money is your own. And as long as you don’t go around beating up on other people, stealing like the government does, then things would be much better. And that’s why our freedom movement brings people together. And the Constitution is the basis of our freedom. The Constitution really brings us together.
That’s why I’m so excited when I do see a hundred Democrats sign up on the bill. And in some of our campaign rallies, believe me, a lot of Democrats and a lot of independents show up. I think if the Republican Party wants to get some strength again they got to understand what the young people are thinking about and how they look at it economically and how we’re dumping on them all the debt and all the regulations and all the wars that are going on. And they respond favorably, and I am so impressed when they come to my office and I always ask them, “What got you interested?”. And they say, “The Constitution, you really believe in it, don’t you? And you really vote that way, don’t you?” and they just like the idea and they’re very principled.
So from that group I get a lot of encouragement and I’m not a pessimist in what can happen. But to keep myself from getting pessimistic I have to come visit with you folks. Because if you’re in Washington all the time and I listen to this: “All those stupid people out there, we got to take care of them, you know”. But there is reason to stay in the fight and keep it going because if nothing else but our own self interests, our personal interests and our family interests are at stake. And you have believe in this and know how to explain that freedom does work. Freedom is very, very powerful and is the only humanitarian system ever adhered to by man. Because all the other systems are authoritarian. When I say we want to go back the days of the gold standard days, they say, “Oh, you want to go back. Yeah, Ron Paul should be a candidate of the 18th century or something because that’s all old-fashioned.”
Freedom is a new, modern new idea, something that is only a couple of hundred years old, and it has ushered in the industrial revolution. We’re on the verge of throwing it away and I don’t believe I need to tell anybody in Michigan you’re on the verge of losing it. And it’s not a failure of capitalism like they like tell you. It’s a failure of big government and a failure to understand how the market works.
So, it’s an intellectual fight. What you do is up to yourselves. You can do it politically, you can do it educationally, you can do it one-on-one, you can do it by joining groups and supporting candidates. People ask me, “What should I do?” You can do what you want, but just do it. And most importantly, study the issues and understand them and feel comfortable with them because there is always a job for you. And everybody will get a different job and that will make the difference.
But I am delighted to be here and enjoyed visiting with you and I’ll be glad to take questions.