Ron Paul: I don’t think government is very good at delivering anything; the mail or any services. I don’t think they’re good at fighting wars, I don’t think they’re good at delivering welfare. And so I don’t agree with the system at all. And I basically don’t believe there’s a proper understanding of what rights are. Because this whole argument – Republicans and Democrats assume people have a right to stuff, they have a right to care and they have a right to a house and a right to a job. And as a constitutionalist and a believer in individual liberty, I don’t approach it that way.
You have a right to your life and your liberty, you have a right to work hard and keep what you earn. But once you say you have a right to something and government’s going to give it to you, they never ask the next question: from where does the government give it? They have to violate somebody else’s right. Government is supposed to be established in a free society to protect rights, not to divvy up the loot and shift things around. So this demonstrates a complete different understanding of what rights are and what the Constitution says.
Anderson Cooper: You are a living example of an anti-establishment, sometimes contrarian libertarian streak you have in you, not always in agreement with your own Republican leadership in the House of Representatives. And yet in this anti-establishment climate in the country, even you have some Tea Party primary opponents perhaps running against you back in Texas. Is that a good thing for the Republican Party and the conservative movement?
Ron Paul: Sure, I think so. We’ve already had our primary, and I think people see opportunities. Of course, I got 80% of the vote in my primary. But no, I think it’s an expression. And people might make misjudgments politically, but I think that it’s very healthy that there is another party and the party is the party of people. It’s not truly a party. But what they’re seeing is there is no difference between Republicans and Democrats. Democrats are elected for one thing, and they don’t do it. Republicans are supposed to be other, and they don’t do it either, and the people get pretty upset.
Anderson Cooper: And yet someone else who’s tried to tap this sentiment – as you have already noted, you have succeeded even despite somebody who is running against you – is Sarah Palin, the former vice presidential nominee. And she has gone to the Tea Party Convention, she think it’s a good thing, as you do, to have some energy in this democracy. But she also says that if the primary candidate, as in your case, loses, that they have to make a choice. And she put it this way: “Which party reflects how that smaller, smarter government steps to be taken? Which party will best fit you? And then because the Tea Party Movement is not a party, and we have a two-party system, they’re going to have to pick a party and run on one or the other: ‘R’ or ‘D’.” Is she right? Do we have a two-party system, or should they look to do more?
Ron Paul: Well, she fits my answer to that question, because I tell people to do what they want to do. If that’s what she things, fine. People ask me that all the time, “What should I do, what should I do? Should I be a Republican, Independent or Libertarian?” I say just do what you want to do, and that’s sort of a libertarian answer. But, unfortunately, the laws are so biased against competition. If you come to the conclusion that Republicans and Democrats aren’t too much different from each other, then there are no choices. We don’t have really good democracy in this country, because if I want to run as the third party, you know, I wouldn’t have been in those debates.
Anderson Cooper: In 1988 you were the Libertarian candidate for president.
Ron Paul: Yeah, who remembers that?
Anderson Cooper: I do. That was my first presidential campaign I covered. In 2008 you ran as a Republican in the primaries. What about next time? Will Ron Paul run for president again and would you, in this climate, do you sense the disconnect with both parties? Would you say, “You know what, let’s try to do the third people thing. I’m going to run as a Libertarian.”
Ron Paul: I dread that thought, and I get asked that question all the time, because it’s a gruesome thing. And yet I have a lot of people who have… and my big surprise has been that the momentum of what we were doing in the presidential campaign, I thought the next day it would be over and done with and nobody would ever ask me another question. But, you know, the campus rallies that we have now are bigger than ever, more enthusiastic, people are looking for answers. And I’m sort of in between this thing.
Anderson Cooper: You say you dread the thought, but it wasn’t a ‘no’?
Ron Paul: No, it isn’t a ‘no’. Because there are so many people who ask me and they get enthusiastic. It’s more like, how do I do it without offending them. But no, I wouldn’t look forward to it, I haven’t said yes. That would be a tough decision under these conditions.
Anderson Cooper: Let me ask you in closing: your 74 years old, I think? Is that right?
Ron Paul: Something like that. But I feel younger.
Anderson Cooper: Something like that? I stopped counting, too. You feel younger, and you act younger. And yet you are one of these innovative people in this world. We’re launching the show today in the online community. You’re one of the innovators in online politics. You have, and I’m going to show our viewers this, nearly 4,000 followers on Twitter, that’s not enormous, but it’s a good number. On Facebook, more than 183,000 friends on Facebook. And in the Internet fund raising community back in 2008 you were wildly successful – some 35 million dollars, maybe a little bit more than. In closing let’s talk a little bit about that. How has the world changed in your time in politics and how important and what’s the next generation of this online internet politics?
Ron Paul: It’s all been positive. Unbelievable. I’d like to take the credit that I was the organizer. But no, it’s the spontaneity of what we have and that’s the Internet. And those individuals who like the message, who just get together. Like the fund raising where we had 6 or 7 million dollars raised in one day and broke all records; that wasn’t because we had central economic planning. It was because people got enthusiastic.
I say it’s the message. I just happen to be at the place delivering that message. But people are looking for something, and they see that I talk about personal liberty, personal responsibility, free markets, sound money. People are very interested in the Fed. I’m shocked that there is so much interest. And I talk about a different foreign policy. When you talk to especially the young people, it makes a lot of sense when you talk about personal liberty.
And when you talk about, “I’m not going to go up there and I’m not planning to give you a lot of stuff”, they don’t care because they know the government can’t deliver. The government’s bankrupt. That’s what the problem is on the Hill: nobody admits the bankruptcy. That’s why this whole debate on medical care; the people think it’s so foolish. And endless war and endless welfare. And we’re going to raise the national debt this year; 2 trillion dollars. The people understand that, but there’s very, very few on the Hill that have the vaguest notion what that means; and that means trouble for this country if we don’t straighten up our act.