Ron Paul Is the Anti-Politician

Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

One of the
most thrilling memories of the 2012 campaign was the sight of those
huge crowds who came out to see Ron. His competitors, meanwhile,
couldn’t fill half a Starbucks. When I worked as Ron’s chief of
staff in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I could only dream of such
a day.

Now what was
it that attracted all these people to Ron Paul? He didn’t offer
his followers a spot on the federal gravy train. He didn’t pass
some phony bill. In fact, he didn’t do any of the things we associate
with politicians. What his supporters love about him has nothing
to do with politics at all.

Ron is the
anti-politician. He tells unfashionable truths, educates rather
than flatters the public, and stands up for principle even when
the whole world is arrayed against him.

Some people
say, “I love Ron Paul, except for his foreign policy.”
But that foreign policy reflects the best and most heroic part of
who Ron Paul is. Peace is the linchpin of the Paulian program, not
an extraneous or dispensable adjunct to it. He would never and could
never abandon it.

Here was the
issue Ron could have avoided had he cared only for personal advancement.

But he refused.
No matter how many times he’s been urged to keep his mouth shut
about war and empire, these have remained the centerpieces of his
speeches and interviews.

Of course,
Ron Paul deserves the Nobel Peace Prize. In a just world, he would
also win the Medal of Freedom, and all the honors for which a man
in his position is eligible.

But history
is littered with forgotten politicians who earned piles of awards
handed out by other politicians. What matters to Ron more than all
the honors and ceremonies in the world is all of you, and your commitment
to the immortal ideas he has championed all his life.

It’s Ron’s
truth-telling and his urge to educate the public that should inspire
us as we carry on into the future.

It isn’t a
coincidence that governments everywhere want to educate children.
Government education, in turn, is supposed to be evidence of the
state’s goodness and its concern for our well-being. The real explanation
is less flattering. If the government’s propaganda can take root
as children grow up, those kids will be no threat to the state apparatus.
They’ll fasten the chains to their own ankles.

H.L. Mencken
once said that the state doesn’t just want to make you obey. It
tries to make you want to obey. And that’s one thing the
government schools do very well.

A long-forgotten
political thinker, Etienne de la Boetie, wondered why people would
ever tolerate an oppressive regime. After all, the people who are
governed vastly outnumber the small minority doing the governing.
So the people governed could put a stop to it all if only they had
the will to do so. And yet they rarely do.

De la Boetie
concluded that the only way any regime could survive was if the
public consented to it. That consent could range all the way from
enthusiastic support to stoic resignation. But if that consent were
ever to vanish, a regime’s days would be numbered.

And that’s
why education – real education – is such a threat to any regime.
If the state loses its grip over your mind, it loses the key to
its very survival.

The state is
beginning to lose that grip. Traditional media, which have carried
water for the government since time began, it seems, are threatened
by independent voices on the Internet. I don’t think anyone under
25 even reads a newspaper.

The media and
the political class joined forces to try to make sure you never
found out about Ron Paul. When that proved impossible, they smeared
him, and told you no one could want to go hear Ron when they could
hear Tim Pawlenty or Mitt Romney instead.

All this backfired.
The more they panicked about Ron, the more drawn to him people were.
They wanted to know what it was that the Establishment was so eager
to keep them from hearing.

Ours is the
most radical challenge to the state ever posed. We aren’t trying
to make the state more efficient, or show how it can take in more
revenue, or change its pattern of wealth redistribution. We’re not
saying that this subsidy is better than that one, or that this kind
of tax would make the system run more smoothly than that one. We
reject the existing system root and branch.

And we don’t
oppose the state’s wars because they’ll be counterproductive or
overextend the state’s forces. We oppose them because mass murder
based on lies can never be morally acceptable.

So we don’t
beg for scraps from the imperial table, and we don’t seek a seat
at that table. We want to knock the table over.

We have much
work to do. Countless Americans have been persuaded that it’s in
their interest to be looted and ordered around by a ruling elite
that in fact cares nothing for their welfare and seeks only to increase
its power and wealth at their expense.

The most lethal
and anti-social institution in history has gotten away with describing
itself as the very source of civilization. From the moment they
set foot in the government’s schools, Americans learn that the state
is there to rescue them from poverty, unsafe medicines, and rainy
days, to provide economic stimulus when the economy is poor, and
to keep them secure against shadowy figures everywhere. This view
is reinforced, in turn, by the broadcast and print media.

If the public
has been bamboozled, as Murray Rothbard would say, it is up to us
to do the de-bamboozling. We need to tear the benign mask off the

That is the
task before you, before all of us, here today.

Begin with
yourself. Learn everything you can about a free society. Read the
greats, like Frederic Bastiat, Ludwig von Mises, and Murray Rothbard.
As you delve into the literature of liberty, share what you’re reading
and learning. Start a blog. Create a YouTube channel. Organize a
reading group. But whatever you do, learn, spread what you’re learning,
and never stop.

it is through propaganda that people thoughtlessly accept the claims
of the state, then it is through education that people must be brought
to their senses.

With its kept
media on the wane, it is going to be more and more difficult for
the state to make its claims stick, to persuade people to keep accepting
its lies and propaganda.

You’ve heard
it said that the pen is mightier than the sword. Think of the sword
as the state. Think of the pen as all of you, each in your own way,
spreading the ideas of liberty.

Remember that
insight of Etienne de la Boetie: all government rests on public
consent, and as soon as the public withdraws that consent, any regime
is doomed.

This is why
they fear Ron, it’s why they fear you, and it’s why, despite the
horrors we read about every day, we may dare to look to the future
with hope.

This article
is based on remarks delivered at the Paul Festival in Tampa, FL,
August 25, 2012.

27, 2012

H. Rockwell, Jr. [send him
mail], former editorial assistant to Ludwig von Mises and congressional
chief of staff to Ron Paul, is founder and chairman of the Mises
, literary executor for the estate of Murray N. Rothbard,
and editor of
See his

© 2001 by Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

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