Ron Paul delivered his hard hitting farewell address on the House floor Wednesday in which he called out the “psychopathic authoritarians” who have eroded our individual liberty and plundered our wealth. As Dr. Paul readily admits, conventional wisdom may say that he has “accomplished very little” in terms of legislative successes during his 12 terms in Congress. Maybe so, but Ron Paul has accomplished something far more important and enduring. He has inspired an entire movement dedicated to the ideas of constitutionally limited government, free markets, and a non-interventionist foreign policy.
Ron Paul’s legacy should not be measured by the number of his bills passed by Congress. His main objective was never to get his bills signed into law. There are no federal buildings or highways named after Ron Paul. “Thank goodness,” he says; he never wanted that.
Ron Paul’s accomplishments should instead be measured by the number of hearts and minds that he has changed. Throughout Ron Paul’s entire congressional career, spreading the message of liberty has always been his first and foremost priority. He ran for president three times to bring more attention to our continual loss of liberty in this country. And for that message, we all owe him a great debt of thanks.
Dr. Paul said in his farewell address that, “political action, to be truly beneficial, must be directed toward changing the hearts and minds of the people.” Unlike many politicians, Ron Paul didn’t seek political office for personal gain, power, or money. He entered politics to raise awareness to the serious problems that this country faced right after Nixon took us off the quasi-gold standard.
Ron Paul’s legacy will live on in the minds of millions of people across the world that are motivated by his message. A popular grassroots sign at Ron Paul rallies reads: “Dr. Paul Cured My Apathy.” There are countless numbers of once politically apathetic young people, like me, that literally had their lives changed because of Ron Paul’s message. Once we heard Ron Paul speak about the dire state of our nation, we felt obligated to educate ourselves, get politically involved, and spread the message of liberty and peace.
Many of us admire Ron Paul because of his principled stance on the issues. Unlike most politicians, he does not flip flop based on political whims. That’s a true rarity in Washington. He stays true to what he believes in, no matter what.
In the early days of his career, Ron Paul’s warnings about the coming economic meltdown were largely dismissed. He often gave long speeches on the danger of the Federal Reserve to a nearly empty House chamber. Some laughed at him. Some called him nasty names. But Ron Paul never wavered on his belief that huge trouble was ahead, if U.S. monetary policy wasn’t changed.
Ron Paul sounds the exact same today as he did three decades ago. The difference is that Ron Paul’s previous economic predictions have now been proven correct and more people are willing to listen. Most of us already know that the Federal Reserve is in large part to blame for the 2007 financial crisis. Since Dr. Paul is too modest to mention that his predictions were true, Ron Paul supporters feel the need to brag for him.
While Ron Paul has adoring supporters all around the world, Washington insiders aren’t too fond of him.
All lobbyists in Washington know that Ron Paul cannot be bought off. House leadership knows that pressuring Ron Paul to vote a certain way is a waste of time. Ron Paul has never been afraid to vote against unconstitutional bills, even if doing so will hurt him politically. He has regularly introduced bills that had virtually no chance of making it out of committee. But he introduced them anyway to spread the message.
There is something distinctly American about a man that sticks to his guns. Yet, it is rare that a person so lives up to his principles that he actually becomes a hero.
Ron Paul could easily be named the most important political figure of our era. He is living proof that one person can inspire an entire movement of millions of people. Even though Ron Paul will soon be out of politics, the Ron Paul inspired Liberty Movement shows no signs of slowing down. Many candidates who won in 2012, like Justin Amash, Thomas Massie, Kerry Bentivolio, and Ted Cruz – were .
The Liberty Movement is more than one presidential election. As Ron Paul said, "it's not like I'm just trying to win and get elected - I'm trying to change the course of history." Even when Ron Paul conceded from the presidential race, he was still drawing large, enthusiastic crowds on college campuses with students eager to hear his message. Some might say that the roar of the crowd at a Ron Paul rally compares to a Beatles concert at the height of their fame.
The results of the presidential election should have been a wakeup call to the GOP. The youth vote gap between Obama and Romney suggests that the Republicans risk losing an entire generation to the Democrats. The GOP would be wise to embrace more of Ron Paul’s libertarian views since he overwhelmingly won the youth vote in the GOP primaries, taking 48% of the youth vote in Iowa and 47% in New Hampshire.
Simply put, the GOP needs to adapt or die. As Senator Jim DeMint has said, "if Republicans don't understand the important aspects of what Ron Paul is saying, we won't be able to exist as a party, certainly not a majority party.” He’s right. It’s time for the GOP to listen to us.
Ron Paul will be sorely missed in Congress. But the intellectual revolution that he inspired is not going anywhere. Thank you, Dr. Paul, for setting “brushfires of liberty in the minds of men.”
Julie Borowski is a policy analyst and Staff Writer for FreedomWorks