Ron Paul appeared on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” to discuss the lack of difference between the two major parties, as well as the public’s growing frustration with the political establishment – and what we can do about it.
Show: The Rachel Maddow Show
Rachel Maddow: There’s Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, whose daily schedule now consists of waking up, eating breakfast, and then getting censured by his own state party. After already getting censured by the Charleston County Republican Party back in November, Mr. Graham has now been censured officially by the Lexington County Republican Party this week. They voted to censure Mr. Graham for his work on Cap and Trade legislation. The official resolution reads in part,
“U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham has repeatedly demonstrated contempt and belligerence towards those members of the Republican Party who support freedom, a constitutional government, and the Republican Party platform.”
For his part, Lindsey Graham is not taking this censure sitting down. He knows who’s responsible, saying,
“You have these Ron Paul guys show up and try to take over the party. They are not reflective of the Republican Party, and I hope this serves as a wakeup call to Republicans that they need to get involved.”
Mr. Graham there referring to the author of the censure resolution against him in Lexington County, a man named Talbert Black, who is the interim South Carolina state director for Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty.
Joining us now is Republican Congressman Ron Paul of Texas. Congressman Paul, thanks very much for coming back on the show, it’s nice to see you.
Ron Paul: Thank you, Rachel. Nice to be with you.
Rachel Maddow: I have to ask your reaction to Senator Lindsey Graham saying, “Ron Paul guys are not reflective of the Republican Party.” What do you think?
Ron Paul: Well, in a way that might be good. The Republican Party isn’t exactly the top party in the country right now. But I think Lindsey is giving me way too much credit. But if he wants to give me a lot of credit that I now control the Republican Party in South Carolina, I consider that rather amazing.
But no, I don’t think you can talk about the tea party as a party. It’s made up of a lot of different people and I don’t even see them as being Republicans. I think they’re unhappy; they’re unhappy with the establishment party, and that’s made up of the Republicans and the Democrats. I mean, think of the factions in the Democratic Party. The base of the Democratic Party that would have liked to see a change in foreign policy and less war, not expanding the war in Afghanistan, they’re disgruntled. Some anti-war people do come to some of the tea parties; at least the tea party types that I have. You know, the original tea party was held in the campaign; we had a lot of anti-war people there.
So, in many ways the people are speaking out. They’re very, very angry and upset. They’re upset with the establishment; they’re upset with the Republicans and the Democrats. But I think this is a natural consequence of the insolvency of the country. That’s really the basic problem. The politicians are used to promising and just passing out favors, taking care of the military-industrial complex, or any domestic need at home, and not have to live up to the responsibility of paying for it. And it’s coming to an end.
So we’re facing a bankruptcy, and that’s why I think you’re seeing this anger and hostility and this fighting and bickering. But I do not think the real fight is between Republicans and Democrats. I see the establishment Republican and the establishment Democrat as being one because the foreign policies don’t differ, and the monetary policy doesn’t differ. And you put Republicans in office to balance the budget and promote personal liberty, and they don’t do any of that. You put the Democrats in to protect civil liberties and wind down the war and not have any secret rendition. Things don’t change. And the American people are just catching on.
Rachel Maddow: Congressman Paul, I think that you’re right that there is a bit of an insurgency happening on both sides. But it seems to be manifesting differently in the two parties. The base seems unhappy and a lot of people unaffiliated with either party seem unhappy with both parties right now. But on the Republican side, that’s translating into censures at the county party level for sitting senators. It’s translating into primary fights in places like Florida, upstate New York and other places. As somebody who’s run for president, both as a Libertarian and as a Republican, do you thing the fights within the right right now are a danger to the Republican Party’s future strength? Or do you think it’s going to ultimately make the Republican Party stronger?
Ron Paul: It all depends. I thing in some areas with the right candidates it will help. But, quite frankly, I don’t think about the strength of parties. I don’t worry about these strength or the weakness of the Democratic Party. I don’t thing about the strength or the weakness of the Republican Party. All I thing about is trying to get people to accept certain ideas, and these ideas permeate both parties.
You know, we had a Keynesian revolution in economics where everybody is a Keynesian. We had Woodrow Wilson make the world safe with democracy. He was the first neocon. We’ve been living with that. So that’s the only thing that counts. This fighting; I’m sorry I can’t enter into these really partisan fights, but really the fight is more philosophic. And I think this is a distraction. Sometimes I think it’s deliberate. Because, you know, when these races come up: Obama versus McCain – a big difference. And they both run off and vote for Bush’s bailout. And the people are catching on to this.
So as frustrated as you might get or think how poorly the tea party people act, they get frustrated, they act out and sometimes they act too angrily, and it doesn’t come off well. And the answer to your question is, if they keep doing that, yeah it might not necessarily build the party, but the important thing is we change the ideas in this country that we have sound money, balanced budget, live within our means, take care of ourselves, and protect civil liberties.
If we don’t think that way, and we narrow it down to this contest between one candidate against the other one, we won’t really see any changes because the party leaderships all supporting the same issue, this country will continue down the road of bankruptcy. And then the big revolution will come. I mean, when a dollar crisis comes because we can’t afford this, then we will have major social and political changes and we’re on the verge of this. Within several years I can conceive of this coming, and we ought to be aware of this and this partisan bickering about candidates one versus the other; I think that’s a side show.
Rachel Maddow: In terms of people who have legitimate, I think, grassroots ideologically driven followings on the American right (very broadly defined) I really think that’s it’s you, and I think that it’s Dick Cheney. And the former vice president Dick Cheney has really made a name for himself being declared Conservative of the Year by one publication at the end of the year, on national security and foreign policy issues and issues of war making. You, obviously, have been a leader on issues of fiscal policy, you’ve really brought a lot of your party’s leadership and your rank and file around on fiscal issues.
Do you think there is a coming battle between fiscal conservatism and foreign policy perspective that Dick Cheney represents, in terms of what the future is going to be of the Republican Party, the conservative movement? Which direction things are going to go? Are you guys at loggerheads?
Ron Paul: Oh, I think so, not personally. Because I have never had a discussion with him. But I go to the campuses. I think all revolutions, all significant changes occur with young people. And I go to the campuses. Liberal or conservative, I can get large crowds out, and the foreign policy issue is the very big issue. The money issue is a very big issue, and that’s a popular issue because if you’re for the Federal Reserve and all the shenanigans, you’re for big banks and big businesses and the military-industrial complex and the deficit.
But the young people aren’t for these things. They want personal liberty, they want to change foreign policy, and they want to look into the Fed’s secrecy. And if the Republicans don’t catch on to that, they can’t build their party. And they’re not interested. I mean, Lindsey Graham, I have to give him credit. He’s rather typical of most Republican establishment. They don’t want to have any part of what I am doing, because they don’t want an answer to that, because they don’t want to have to go to the campuses and explain why we have to have more kids go overseas, or why we might need a draft and why military spending is okay, but spending money on child healthcare, that’s bad, and we have to stop that.
The kids see this, young people, and they’re inheriting this mess. And that’s where I get excited and enthusiastic when I go to the campuses. Because, believe me, the young people are responding very favorably to this message.
Rachel Maddow: Republican Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, consistently one of the most intriguing and interesting and unique people in American politics. It’s always a pleasure to talk with you, sir. Thanks for your time.