On November 14, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who chose not to seek re-election after 12 terms in the House of Representatives spanning three decades, gave a 49-minute valedictory address. Here are some edited excerpts:
My goals in 1976 were the same as they are today: promote peace and prosperity by a strict adherence to the principles of individual liberty.
According to conventional wisdom, my off-and-on career in Congress—from 1976 to 2012—accomplished very little. No named legislation, no named federal buildings or highways, thank goodness. In spite of my efforts, the government has grown exponentially, taxes remain excessive, and the prolific increase of incomprehensible regulations continues. Wars are constant and pursued without congressional declaration. Deficits rise to the sky.
Yet the good news is that compared to 1976, the desire for more freedom and less government in 2012 is much greater and growing, especially in grassroots America. Tens of thousands of teenagers and college-age students are, with great enthusiasm, welcoming the message of liberty.
[Still] our liberties are restricted and government operates outside the rule of law…Here are a few examples:
• Debt is growing exponentially.
• The PATRIOT Act and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act legislation, passed without much debate, have resulted in a steady erosion of our Fourth Amendment rights.
• Tragically our government engages in pre-emptive war, otherwise known as aggression, with no complaints from the American people.
• The drone warfare we are pursuing worldwide is destined to end badly for us as the hatred builds for innocent lives lost and the international laws [flouted].
• It's now the law of the land that the military can arrest American citizens, hold them indefinitely, without charges or a trial.
• Rampant hostility toward free trade is supported by a large number in Washington.
• Sanctions are used to punish countries that don't follow our orders.
• Bailouts and guarantees for all kinds of misbehavior are routine.
Excessive government has created such a mess it prompts many questions:
Why are sick people who use medical marijuana put in prison?
Why are Americans not allowed to use gold and silver as legal tender as mandated by the Constitution?
Why is the Transportation Security Administration permitted to abuse
the rights of any American traveling by air?
Why haven't we given up on the drug war since it's an obvious failure and violates the people's rights? Has nobody noticed that the authorities can't even keep drugs out of the prisons? How can making our entire society a prison solve the problem?
Why do we sacrifice so much getting needlessly involved in border disputes and civil strife around the world and ignore the root cause of the most deadly border in the world—the one between Mexico and the U.S.?
Why does changing the party in power never change policy? Could it be that the views of both parties are essentially the same?
Why is there so little concern for the executive order that gives the president authority to establish a "kill list," including American citizens, of those targeted for assassination?
Why is patriotism thought to be blind loyalty to the government and the politicians who run it, rather than loyalty to the principles of liberty and support for the people? Real patriotism is a willingness to challenge the government when it's wrong.
The immoral use of force is the source of man's political problems. Sadly, many religious groups, secular organizations, and psychopathic authoritarians endorse government-initiated force to change the world. Even when the desired goals are well intentioned—or especially when well intentioned—the results are dismal.
It is rather strange that unless one has a criminal mind and no respect for other people and their property, no one claims it's permissible to go into one's neighbor's house and tell them how to behave, what they can eat, smoke, and drink, or how to spend their money. Yet rarely is it asked why it is morally acceptable that a stranger with a badge and a gun can do the same thing in the name of law and order. Any resistance is met with brute force, fines, taxes, arrests, and even imprisonment. This is done more frequently every day without a proper search warrant.
Government in a free society should have no authority to meddle in social activities or the economic transactions of individuals. Nor should government meddle in the affairs of other nations. All things peaceful, even when controversial, should be permitted.
Our Constitution, which was intended to limit government power and abuse, has failed. The Founders warned that a free society depends on a virtuous and moral people.
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?
If the people are unhappy with the government's 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.
Expect the rapidly expanding homeschooling movement to play a significant role in the revolutionary reforms needed to build a free society with constitutional protections. We cannot expect a federal government?controlled school system to provide the intellectual ammunition to combat the dangerous growth of government that threatens our liberties.
The Internet will provide the alternative to the government/media complex that controls the news and most political propaganda. This is why it's essential that the Internet remains free of government regulation.
Achieving legislative power and political influence should not be our goal. Most of the change, if it is to come, will not come from the politicians, but rather from individuals, family, friends, intellectual leaders, and our religious institutions. The solution can only come from rejecting the use of coercion, compulsion, government commands, and aggressive force to mold social and economic behavior.
The idealism of nonaggression and rejecting all offensive use of force should be tried. What I'm talking about is a system of government guided by the moral principles of peace and tolerance.
A society that boos or ridicules the Golden Rule is not a moral society. All great religions endorse the Golden Rule. The same moral standards that individuals are required to follow should apply to all government officials. They cannot be exempt.
To achieve liberty and peace, two powerful human emotions have to be overcome. Number one is envy, which leads to hate and class warfare. Number two is intolerance, which leads to bigoted and judgmental policies. These emotions must be replaced with a much better understanding of love, compassion, tolerance, and free market economics.
I have come to one firm conviction after these many years of trying to figure out "the plain truth of things." The best chance for achieving peace and prosperity, for the maximum number of people worldwide, is to pursue the cause of liberty. If you find this to be a worth-while message, spread it throughout the land.