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Jon Stewart: Welcome my guest tonight. He is a Congressman from the great state of Texas who is also a Republican candidate for president. Please welcome back to the program Congressman Ron Paul. It’s nice to see you again.
Ron Paul: Thank you very much.
Jon Stewart: How are things going, are you feeling the love from the people?
Ron Paul: Oh, all the time. Especially the media, they really love me.
Jon Stewart: What do you think that is? You know, you ran in 2008, you had a nice strong showing, you’ve improved upon that, you came in a very close second in the Ames straw poll – and obviously some of the straws are here tonight. What is it about your candidacy that they so easily dismiss, and are they right when they say Ron Paul is not an electable figure?
Ron Paul: No, they’re wrong on that, I’ve been elected quite a few times already, so I’ve proved I can be elected. I think it’s two things; I think one is some people don’t want to hear the message because it’s a threat to them, because I’m a threat to the establishment. Some, though, just flat out don’t understand what freedom is all about and they don’t understand how the market works and they don’t care about monetary policy and they think that we have to continue to fight wars. They don’t understand the message, and I think that’s the main reason why they’re intimidated by me having a presence on the stage.
Jon Stewart: In these polls you go anywhere from 8% to 15%, but it’s a very enthusiastic group, the enthusiasm for your candidacy is very strong. Can you broaden that out? Your 15% or 12% or 10% will yell harder than Romney’s 30%. His 30% don’t really seem to like him very much, but how can you expand past that?
Ron Paul: Well, keep delivering the message, because the message is necessary and it’s very popular. The country is in big trouble economically, I have an economic message. And the foreign policy is in shambles; perpetual war, American people are sick and tired of it, that message is truly spreading. I also work on the assumption that you don’t always have to convince immediately 51%. You do need a hard core of people who understand the message, those are the people who will volunteer, work hard, donate the money, and then the persuasion comes. And I think that’s where we are. I think once you get to 10%, you have the numbers. We’re 10%, 14%, 15%, so I think we very well could be, and are most likely are on a verge of explosion in interest in this country.
Jon Stewart: It seems like what gets a lot of attention is saying one thing a few years ago, and then changing your position. Have you thought about flip-flopping? Because I feel like, when I watch the debates, a great deal of it is each candidate yelling at the other for things they used to say that they no longer believe in. And during that whole conversation, they really don’t look at you. So is there a way that you could, right now, perhaps, repudiate some of your past positions?
Ron Paul: So, if you were my political advisor, you would say maybe I should try that and get more attention.
Jon Stewart: I would suggest that perhaps what you should do right now is come out for a war on Iran. I feel like if you were to that, it would really generate a great deal of interest.
Ron Paul: And where would my supporters be? They would be gone, and rightfully so.
Jon Stewart: Your consistency has been a really problem for the media, I guess is what I’m saying.
Ron Paul: That is true.
Jon Stewart: Here’s what I’d like to do for you. I obviously have worked in this business for a long time, Congressman. I think I know what I could do for you that could bring some attention. Your look, the consistency of your positions, have you tried something like this? There you go, they all seem to love Chris Cristie, so I thought maybe if you did some of that. But maybe this, more than any other look, might be the way to go; there you go. You’ve served 12 straight terms in Congress, she left being Governor early, but she’s got that bus. Have you thought of anything along the lines of that, changing your look?
Ron Paul: I’ve been thinking about maybe you’ll generate some good idea and I’m not sure I’m going to follow the advice you just shot at me.
Jon Stewart: Here’s what we’re going to do, we’re going to go to a commercial, come back and we’ll talk about those policies when we come back. We’ll get into them a little deeper and figure some of this out. Congressman Ron Paul will be back.
So now we’re back. There’s so much about what you say that appeals, and then I always feel like, “Ron Paul is really telling it like it is, he’s really getting it in.” You’ll go one step and I’ll go, “Ron, oh”. We were talking about the drug war and the legitimacy of the drug war and you seemed to be saying this was failing and I was listening to you and I was thinking, “Yes, Ron Paul is schooling these guys”. And then you went, “Like Heroine, for instance”. And I felt, “No, Ron!”
Ron Paul: No, now listen. I did not bring up that word, never have. But I do talk about freedom of choice and how ridiculous the war on drugs is. We spent over a trillion dollars on this war in the last 40 years, and I fear the war on drugs a lot more than I fear the drugs themselves. And I think drugs are horrible, I think they’re dangerous. Prescription drugs as well as illegal drugs, I think, are very, very dangerous. But the war on drugs, which violates civil liberties, getting people busting into our houses, that is the real danger to our civil liberties and that’s just one example of the violation of our civil liberties.
Jon Stewart: So would you seriously not regulate any drugs, like heroine? Would you allow people to make that choice as well?
Ron Paul: I would, but under our system, especially the federal government … see, I’m dealing with a federal office … for most of our history we didn’t do that. Somebody sent me and advertisement the other day, it was just an advertisement in a magazine for cocaine for cough. And I worked in a drug store when I was a kid, and I sold codeine over the counter. And not one of my friends, I don’t remember anybody ever drinking codeine to get high. So I don’t think…
Jon Stewart: I should introduce you to some of my friends then. I’ll be honest with you, you and I travel on very different circles.
Ron Paul: But I don’t think the laws make people better people, I think that’s a waste of time and it destroys liberty, it destroys freedom of choice.
Jon Stewart: Do you worry that you trust us more than you should? Because one of the things I have trouble with is, I have trouble trusting the market. And I don’t know, has the market shown itself to be a good regulator of itself or not to create conditions. These regulations of cocaine and heroin or something other things, they didn’t occur in a vacuum; they did occur with some real world implications.
Ron Paul: Yea, but you’re still trusting people, you’re trusting people who’re regulating: the bureaucrats and the politicians, you’re not exactly their best friend.
Jon Stewart: That’s a good point.
Ron Paul: But you want to deliver all these decision-making to the post offices and the CIA and the TSA group, and then you want the budgeting to be done by the Pentagon? That doesn’t work very well. So I would say that, yes, I do trust the people a lot more. But when I talk to young people, and I talk to a lot of them, I asked them, “If we can get your freedom back, just remember, the decisions you make affect yourself and you can’t come crawling to the government for some help”. When I make a decision, when the government makes a decision, it’s for everybody. When you make a bad decision, it only hurts you. So if you have great faith in people, then you have to say, “Well, the people are the politicians”, and quite frankly, the people I know in Washington aren’t capable of telling you what you ought to do.
Jon Stewart: Good point.
Ron Paul: Doesn’t trusting the people also, then, accept the fact that people won’t let their fellow man be in a position where they fail, and they’ll want to step in and help. Because they will, you know, in this country, people without medical insurance will get medical care because doctors won’t let them die. And how do we deal with that fact?
Ron Paul: Well, I think that is the point. But if you come to the conclusion, which I have over studying this for many years, is that a free market system is the only true humanitarian system. When there was a time when you had only government tyranny, you had famine. But no, if you truly care about solving these problems, you have to understand how the market works, how personal choices work. But it doesn’t mean that people won’t be helped. If you want less people to be sick and without care, you don’t want a totalitarian government, it doesn’t work. It’s the kind of system we have now. Our problems in medicine today is the result of 40 some years of government which delivered the care to the bureaucrats and to the corporations. The corporations, the drug companies and insurance run medicine. So all this good feeling doesn’t the problem.
Jon Stewart: What would stop them from running it? First of all, in your mind, has there ever been a time when the market did regulate itself? And was there a time in our history of capitalism or anything along those lines that you could point to and say, “That was a better system, that was a more humanitarian system”. Because my understanding of those days, the 1800s is that they were incredibly rapacious and these protections arose from the failings of the market.
Ron Paul: No, it’s the failure of government. Take the railroads, for instance. The government gave them all our free land and they got in bed with the government. No, I think the best example for this is the way we treat people in the media and comedians. I want to eliminate all prior restraint. How would you operate if you had prior restraint and we had to monitor your words? You probably wouldn’t be allowed to have me on your programs if there was prior restraint?
Jon Stewart: Is that true?
Ron Paul: Yes, it’s true.
Jon Stewart: I’m a very brave man.
Ron Paul: I don’t believe in any prior restraint, I want to treat everybody like we can treat you. And this is a good example; you deal with very important matters, you deal with the truth, and we hope you’ll always bring the truth out.
Jon Stewart: Right, sometimes no.
Ron Paul: Yea, you’re at risk, but the market will regulate you. You can’t lie to the people. But no, I really do believe this: if people would see the manufacturing and delivering goods and services, like we see how we treat people in the media with no prior restraint, and yet you can do a great deal of harm. Think of intellectually the damage done by bad ideas. We don’t restraint professors at the university, and they can teach communism and fascism and they can teach about the Fed and we don’t close down the university because they teach about the Fed. So I would say that’s the …
Jon Stewart: But that’s different than putting dioxin in the river.
Ron Paul: But whoever got this idea? I think, the environment would be better protected by strict property rights. I was raised in a city in Pittsburg where the sewers were the rivers, and the corporations did it in cohesion with the government, and the government puts the sewer. All you have to say is you have no right to pollute your neighbor’s property, water, air or anything. And you wouldn’t have the politicians writing the laws and exempting certain companies. They write the laws and exempt themselves, and then they trade permits to pollute the air.
Jon Stewart: Does the failure of government to protect adequately, though, make it a failure of government having that responsibility? Does their inability to do it ineffectively make it so that they shouldn’t do it?
Ron Paul: In a way, especially at the federal level. You know, under our constitution, ….
Jon Stewart: Aren’t they a market system, is what I’m saying? Wouldn’t you rather have people regulating that are accountable to voters, than corporations regulating themselves accountable only to share holders? Isn’t our system, I guess you could say, as unfair or maybe not as good as it may be, at least they’re accountable to us.
Ron Paul: But the regulations are stricter in the marketplace. For instance, the regulators have been very much involved in the housing industry, we print a lot of money and we have mortgage companies, and they had a big bubble and they made a lot of money because we wanted to make sure everybody had a house. Well, they go broke, so the regulators got bailed out. The people who control the regulations bail out the big companies, the middle class lose their jobs and they lose their houses. So all this desire and trust in the government to make sure that big corporations won’t hurt them actually is a backfire on them. The regulations are much tougher in a free market because you cannot commit fraud, you cannot steal, you cannot hurt people. And the failure has come that government wouldn’t enforce this. In the industrial revolution, there was a cohesion and you could pollute and they got away with it. But in a true free market in a libertarian society, you can’t do that, you have to be responsible. So the regulations would be tougher.
Jon Stewart: When you say “In a true libertarian society, you have to be responsible”, has that ever been tried? I think it’s an honest question to say it sounds like when you say, the free market would actually regulate that much better. But I think it’s hard for people who know the history of the industrial revolution to feel like that is in any way not a pipedream. And I don’t mean that as disrespect to the idea, but …
Ron Paul: No, it’s been tried, it’s never been perfect. But has socialism and authoritarianism ever been perfect?
Jon Stewart: No.
Ron Paul: No, it’s horrible. You lose all your freedoms that way.
Jon Stewart: Is that our choice? Is our choice authoritarianism and tyranny or sort of a free market that we must trust? Isn’t there a ground of competent …?
Ron Paul: Yes, I think if you plant the seed, it tends to grow. I used to never be able to get away with telling one of my patients, a woman comes in and she’s pregnant, and I say, “Don’t worry about it, it’s a touch of pregnancy”, it doesn’t work that way. If you get government involved, there tends to be a little bit of income tax, 1%, then before you know you have a monster out there. So no, it grows. We give up a 100% of the principle if you start saying the government ought to do it. But under our system, since I don’t expect the perfect society and a perfect free society, but we had a grand experiment, the best ever and the freest and the most prosperous. But one of the rules they had to sort of take care of this blend that you might be looking for, is if we have no prohibitions against the state. So if you sort of like this stuff, let Bloomberg write all the regulations, let somebody else do it.
Jon Stewart: So oppression is not okay from the federal level, but if your state wants to oppress you …
Ron Paul: But you have more control over it if it’s local. You were arguing the case that you have to have a little big government to rescue the people that really need it. Well, do it at the local level because, let me tell you, we’re not very efficient in Washington. You know, we’ve run up the debt.
Jon Stewart: I’ve heard about that, it’s been on the news.
Ron Paul: So just think about if you have trouble with a few of these things, think about it like the Pentagon. You want to turn it over to the Pentagon or the CIA or the TSA and see how good they are at taking care of it.
Jon Stewart: And you wouldn’t worry that the states would just develop their own mechanisms for that type of thing.
Ron Paul: Well, let’s hope the people would work out and make it decent. Some states would do better than others and that was the wonderful part about our country. Look how the financial systems in some of the mid-western states destroyed their jobs, and they move south because they had more favorable working conditions, less taxes, so people migrated down. But unfortunately the whole country..
Jon Stewart: Well, now it’s a global correction, we’d have to go down all the way down to what China’s conditions are now.
Ron Paul: Yea, what has happened now is that we’ve undermined our whole environment, our monetary system, tax system, regulatory system, so there’s no place to go so they do go overseas. We chase our jobs overseas and that’s strongly related to the monetary system, too. When you print money it’s a good export, just export our money and as long as they take it, we can just buy stuff for free; that’s our big problem.
Jon Stewart: Alright. Well, listen, it’s always great to see you and I always enjoy our conversations.
Ron Paul: Thank you very much.
Jon Stewart: And you really are one of our last consistent politicians that we see in this world, so really appreciate it. Congressman Ron Paul.
Ron Paul will return to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart this Monday, September 26, at 11 pm EST.
Last month, Jon Stewart had famously called out the mainstream media’s disconnect from Ron Paul:
Ron Paul Paul thanked Stewart for the media attention, insisting that it was “great that somebody like that comes to defend us.”
Below are videos of Ron Paul’s previous appearances on The Daily Show from 2009 and 2007.