Chris Matthews: We’re back. Libertarian Congressman Ron Paul of Texas has spent decades espousing his views. And once again, he’ll do so on the national stage. This morning, today, he announced he’s running for president for the third time. He joins us now from New Hampshire. Welcome, Congressman.
Ron Paul: Thank you, Chris.
Chris Matthews: Well, Ronald Reagan ran three times, maybe this will be the one for you. But here, this has been a sticking point about how far you go with your libertarianism, sir. Here you were, talking about heroine use last week on Fox News; let’s watch your question and answer.
TV Host: Are you suggesting that heroine and prostitution are an exercise of liberty?
Ron Paul: Well, you know, I probably never used those words, you put those words some place. But yes, in instance, if I leave it up to the states, it’s going to be up to the states. Up until this past century, for over a 100 years they were legal. What you’re referring is: “You know what? If we legalize heroine tomorrow, everybody’s going to use heroine.” How many people here would use heroine if it was legal? I mean, nobody would put their hand up and say, “Oh yea, I need the government to take care me. I don’t want to use heroine, so I need these laws”.
Chris Matthews: Well, your people out there in the crowd certainly agree with that. But let me ask you as a citizen of Texas, if that came up for a vote, if you had a vote on that issue as a citizen supporting a candidate or whatever, do you think the state of Texas should legalize heroine and prostitution?
Ron Paul: I think that under the right circumstances, we should legalize freedom, and that is part of it; as long as people don’t force things on other people, I don’t feel threatened by that. It’s sort of like legalizing gambling. I don’t gamble and I don’t get involved, but I’m not going to take that right away from you. So all these things are things that you can do in a free society. But today I gave a long talk about this very issue, and I emphasized the fact that the reason I argue for freedom of choice, is I want people to decide what medications they can take, and whether they want alternative medicine, whether they can drink raw milk, whether they can use marijuana when they’re sick, and that we shouldn’t depend on the government for that guidance. But if do need guidance with children, if a law is there to try to protect children, that’s a different story. But it’s the concept of legalizing freedom, making choices by individuals and assuming responsibility for themselves. And even though that was a special statement about how many people would do it if it were legalized, you know, most people aren’t going to use heroine. More people use heroine because it’s illegal. So making it illegal doesn’t help that much. Kids can go out and get marijuana easier than they can get beer. So beer can be regulated in a way that they prevent the kids from getting it. Most of our history, our early history, there were no laws against this.
Chris Matthews: Well, I guess I have to get down to the question: you’re saying … I’m not sure what you’re saying … if a mother who has children to be responsible for, a husband, a father, should they be allowed to be heroin addicts? Because this is how far you’re going with your libertarianism, it seems, even now.
Ron Paul: Well, the whole thing is that addictions are a disease. We don’t put alcoholics in prison, so I’m just against the war on drugs the way it’s happening; there are other ways you can handle it. But if you treated it like a crime and throw these kids, like we had for decades, in prison, because they smoked a little bit of marijuana and they come out violent criminals. That war on drugs has failed, and believe me, the people know that. And so I’m against the federal war on drugs. I’m not pro-drug usage. As a matter of fact, I’m very critical of the carelessness of doctors who give way too many pain pills. There are more people addicted to prescription drugs than they are to illegal drugs.
Chris Matthews: Okay, just to finish this conversation on this point, we have complete freedom ask this question: yes or no? Should we legalize heroine?
Ron Paul: I want to legalize freedom and I’ll let the states deal with the regulations.
Chris Matthews: Alright. Let me ask you about far you would go in terms of the constitution, because I understand libertarianism. Most of us as young people were very much enraptured with it as kids and in our teens, I think.
Ron Paul: Why did you lose it?
Chris Matthews: Well, I’ll tell you, because the idea of total freedom doesn’t seem to work. Let me ask you this: the 1964 civil rights bill. Do you think a lawyer, a guy runs his shop down in Texas has a right to say, “If you’re black, you don’t come in my store”. That was the libertarian right before 1964. Was it the balanced society?
Ron Paul: I believe that property rights should be protected. Your right to be on TV is protected by property rights because somebody owns that station. I can’t walk into your station. So the right of freedom of speech is protected by property. The right of your church is protected by property. So people should honor and protect it. This gimmick, Chris, its off the wall when you say, “I’m for property rights and states’ rights, therefore I’m a racist”. I mean that’s just outlandish. Wait, Chris. Wait, Chris. People who say that if the law was there and you could do that, who’s going to do it? What idiot would do that?
Chris Matthews: Everybody in the South. I saw these signs driving through the south in college. Of course they did it. You remember them doing it.
Ron Paul: Yea, I but also know that the Jim Crow laws were illegal and we got rid of them under that same law, and that’s all good.
Chris Matthews: But you would have gone against that law.
Ron Paul: Pardon me?
Chris Matthews: You would have voted against that law. You wouldn’t have voted for the 1964 civil rights bill.
Ron Paul: Yea, but I wouldn’t vote against getting rid of the Jim Crow laws.
Chris Matthews: But you would have voted for this, and you know it. Oh common, honestly congressman, you were not for the 1964 civil rights bill.
Ron Paul: Because of the property rights element, not because you got rid of the Jim Crow law.
Chris Matthews: If there is a bar that says, “No blacks allowed”, you say that’s fine.
Ron Paul: No. Oh Chris, you’re demagoguing it now.
Chris Matthews: No, I’m asking you a question, what is the answer.
Ron Paul: You know, segregation was created by government laws. Slavery was created by government laws. Segregation in the military was created by government laws. So what we want to do as libertarians, is to repeal all those laws and honor and respect people … But for you to imply that a property rights person is endorsing that stuff, you don’t understand that there would be zero signs up today saying something like that, and if they did, they would be an idiot and they would be out of business. So I think you’re just getting overboard in order to try to turn it around and try to accuse somebody of being a racist.
Chris Matthews: I’m not calling anybody a racist, I’m saying the laws are racist.
Ron Paul: That’s what you’re implying.
Chris Matthews: Let me ask you this. I once went to Laundromat when I was at a peace corps training in Baker, Louisiana. A Laundromat had this sign on in glaze: “Whites only on the Laundromat”, just to use the Laundromat machines. This was a local shop saying no blacks allowed. You say that should be legal.
Ron Paul: That’s ancient history, that’s over and done with.
Chris Matthews: Because it being outlawed.
Ron Paul: Segregation on buses and all was done by laws, so it was the culture. That’s over and done with, Chris. Why do you want to go back to ancient days and ancient history? It’s past. It’s past, and nobody’s advocating it.
Chris Matthews: Because you’re running for president as a libertarian believing we don’t need laws to protect people.
Ron Paul: Well, you’re concocting and you’re reading much more into it, and you’re trying to imply certain beliefs that I don’t have.
Chris Matthews: No. I think you’re a libertarian. I think you’re a total libertarian. I think that’s what’s appealing about you. I think people like you. You know why they like you? They want to live in a simpler society.
Ron Paul: Listen, the comparison to being a total libertarian is believing in liberty versus being a totalitarian. So if you want the opposite, just look around, that’s what we have. We have a totalitarian world. That’s what most of history has being about: totalitarianism, dictatorship. We’ve only had a small taste of freedom of choice and the principle of private property and contract rights. And we’re blowing it. So this whole thing that we are going to give up on that – what we’re doing is trying to emphasis that something good and wonderful comes from freedom, and freedom of choice. And that we should not say this that total liberty is disgusting, as you imply, and totalitarianism should be the way we run our country.
Chris Matthews: No, no. Let me ask you this. We’ve had a long history of government involvement with Medicare, Social Security, Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act. And I think you’re saying we would have been better off without all that.
Ron Paul: I think we’d be better off if we had freedom and not government control of our lives, our personal lives, and policing the world, and running the economy.
Chris Matthews: Well, that’s what I like.
Ron Paul: Hey Chris, let me finish. We’re facing a calamity because of that. We have a financial crisis, we have a crisis in our foreign policy, we’re losing thousands of people, 100s of thousands are coming back sick because of our foreign policy. And we’re at a point where we cannot sustain this, and we’re on the verge of runaway inflation, because there’s too much acceptance of big government. That is the problem. No matter how noble you try to make it, you’re good intentions will not compensate for the mistakes that people make that want to run our lives and run the economy and reject the principle of private property and making up our own decision for ourselves.
Chris Matthews: Thank you congressman. I love your foreign policy, don’t be getting me wrong. I love your foreign policy. Thank you.
Ron Paul: Well, you’ll come along, Chris. You’ll come around, you will. Once you see and you put it all together, it’s all one package: personal liberty and foreign policy and economic liberty is one package.
Chris Matthews: You have a great following out there, good luck in the campaign.
Ron Paul: And it’s growing.
Chris Matthews: I know it’s growing, and you may well win this thing. Just remember, Ronald Reagan got it on the third try. Thank you, Congressman Ron Paul of Texas.
Ron Paul: Alright.
Chris Matthews: Well, that’s what Hardball was all about, I’ll tell you, that’s what we do here.