Ron Paul, the 77-year old Texan congressman who spawned a new political movement in the United States, gave his farewell speech Wednesday afternoon.
The three-time presidential candidate decided not to seek re-election in July.
Paul was an outspoken libertarian in the Republican wing of the House throughout his political career, openly criticizing both parties on stances ranging from monetary policy to foreign policy. He’s perhaps most well-known for his book “End the Fed,” which advocates for the repeal of the Federal Reserve System in accordance with the Austrian School’s belief that the central bank’s manipulation of the national money supply yields dangerous business cycles.
His farewell speech on the House floor Wednesday covered many of these issues and opened with an reflective question: “How much have I accomplished?”
Paul spent a long time talking about a “grand but never-mentioned bipartisan agreement” that Republicans will never have to eliminate one penny from the military budget so long as Democrats can feel protected from similar cuts to welfare programs. He referred to the former belief as “military Keynesianism,” a pejorative term in the libertarian community for politicians who tout military stimulus as a key to job growth while criticizing domestic expenditures as harmful.
The government seems so divided lately, he explained, because there is “no loot left to divvy up.”
“If liberty is what we claim it is,” Paul said, “it should be an easy sell,” adding that he sees fantastic optimism in the tens of thousands of students and teenagers who are now “welcoming the message of liberty.”
Paul, one of the only House Republicans who acknowledges the effect of blowback in foreign policy, touched upon government intervention overseas in his speech. He claimed that the future of freedom in America “burns in the flames of a foreign policy that makes us less safe.”
“Americans now suffer from a culture of violence,” he said. “[Politicians] feel no guilt for the harm they do. . . . They’re convinced what they do is morally justified.”
In other words, he continued, politicians still act as if they’re merely “taking what is rightfully theirs.”
The Texan congressman asked the audience a handful of rhetorical questions, including why sick people are thrown into prison for owning medical marijuana, why it’s illegal to use gold and silver “as mandated by the Constitution,” and, of course, why Americans cannot choose which bulbs light up their homes.
He views these policies as the direct result of politicians bending to special interests, insisting that one of the most unsuccessful lobby groups consists of people “who just wanted to be left alone.”
“We need an intellectual awakening,” Paul said. “Real patriotism is a willingness to challenge the government when it’s wrong.”
You can watch the full speech here.