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Ron Paul, if only we listened

December 2, 2008
Rod Dreher
11/25/2008
Source …..

I didn’t vote for Ron Paul in the Republican primary (I was a Mike Huckabee man), nor did I write him in on Election Day (I penciled in farmer-poet Wendell Berry). But no Texan this year did more good for conservatism and his country than the congressman from the coast.

Lord knows there was no Republican in the 2008 campaign who talked straighter.

Dr. Paul – he’s a physician – never had a chance, of course. He is too peculiar in his opinions and doesn’t know how to spin like a TV slick. What he had was ideas, integrity and authenticity. On the most critical challenges facing America, Dr. Paul was more right than the well-funded GOP regulars who bigfooted the campaign trail.

His best moment came in a May debate aired on Fox News. Dr. Paul asserted that too much U.S. meddling in the Middle East invites terrorist blowback – a conclusion shared by the 9/11 commission and former CIA bin Laden unit chief Michael Scheuer. Rudy Giuliani pounced, accusing Dr. Paul of trying to blame America for the Sept. 11 attacks.

But Dr. Paul’s point – lost on the demagogic New York mayor – was simply that America should rethink its role in Iraq and the region. “We don’t understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics,” he said in the debate.

Who can doubt it today, given an Iraq war debacle conceived and executed by a president and an elite team blinded by ideology? The Iraq war did deep damage to our military, our economy and our prestige – and it has destroyed the Republican Party’s credibility on national security issues.

Ron Paul, who has always stood against U.S. imperial overreach, was right about the Iraq war. And that’s not the only thing he saw that most Republicans did not.

His libertarian economic views are far from mainstream. For example, he’s against income taxes, period, and believes the U.S. should go back on the gold standard. Eccentricities like this keep him from being taken seriously.

But the truth is, if U.S. economic policy looked a lot more like Ron Paul’s ideal than what we’ve had these past decades, the nation wouldn’t be tottering on the financial abyss. Dr. Paul has long argued that an economy built on easy credit, insatiable consumption and deficit spending is a time bomb. He backs a national economic model based on savings, investment and production.

An economy that depends so heavily on government intervention to keep it afloat is one that creates of necessity an ever more powerful state. The nationalization of the banking sector only increases the power of the central government and decreases liberty. Dr. Paul warned for years against what we’re seeing happen today. But nobody – including me – listened to the old crank.

How much better off would America be today if we had? We’ll never know. Poor us.

It’s not true, really, that nobody listened. Dr. Paul had a relatively small but intensely devoted following and raised astonishing amounts of campaign cash for his outsider presidential bid. Unfortunately, that enthusiasm didn’t amount to much of anything in the primaries. So much for the Ron Paul Revolution, right?

Maybe not. The same GOP establishment that mocked and reviled Dr. Paul now lies shattered. Who believes in this Republican Party anymore? The party destroyed itself with its own unprincipled recklessness, both in foreign and fiscal policy. And it has ruined its reputation among the young – the most ardent of Dr. Paul’s supporters, incidentally – who are far more likely to identify with the Democrats.

Out of this destruction, some creative young conservatives may rise up and decide to take back the Republican Party. Perhaps they’ll run against the overweening power of the federal government and in favor of decentralizing power (but unlike today’s Republicans, they’ll actually mean it). Maybe they’ll fight for an America that lives responsibly, within its natural limits both overseas and at home. And maybe, just maybe, they might make the Republican Party worth following again.

If that day comes, it will be thanks to the lifelong labors of Ron Paul and his 2008 campaign based on ideas. If those ideas germinate into genuine reform and restoration of sanity in our government, America will look back on Dr. Paul as a gift from Texas and a worthy nominee as Dallas Morning News Texan of the Year.

And having once given the nation George W. Bush – and given him to our countrymen good and hard – we Texans sure as hell owe them one.

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