My long summation of Ron Paul's wide-ranging and interesting farewell speech to Congress yesterday was written on the fly and missed a point that has been looming larger in my mind since I heard it, a fascinating libertarian spin on the occasional conservative focus on the "virtue of a people," on the morals of the civic body, in politics.
I think most people when they hear stuff like that think it means people must behave in some particular traditionalist way in matters of sex, consumption, cultural product, behavior, comportment, etc..
Ron Paul, that most unusual of Republicans, said this about that:
the importance of a virtuous and moral people is either ignored, or not understood. The new reforms serve only to further undermine liberty.... The real question is: if it is liberty we seek, should most of the emphasis be placed on government reform or trying to understand what “a virtuous and moral people” means and how to promote it. The Constitution has not prevented the people from demanding handouts for both rich and poor in their efforts to reform the government, while ignoring the principles of a free society. All branches of our government today are controlled by individuals who use their power to undermine liberty and enhance the welfare/warfare state-and frequently their own wealth and power.
If the people are unhappy with the government performance it must be recognized that government is merely a reflection of an immoral society that rejected a moral government of constitutional limitations of power and love of freedom.....
Many of our religious institutions and secular organizations support greater dependency on the state by supporting war, welfare and corporatism and ignore the need for a virtuous people....
A vision of a moral people as coterminous with one that respects limits of government power and freedom: an inspiring vision and I hope one that can catch on with those Americans who like to think of themselves as promoters of a conservative virtue.
The full transcript.
My November Reason feature on "Ron Paul: Man of the Left."
The video of his full 49 minute farewell speech: