Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) delivered his farewell address on Wednesday, setting the stage for the upcoming conclusion to his 36-year career in Congress.
A strong and at times solitary voice for libertarianism in the House, Paul promoted many of the traditional themes that have motivated his fervent fan base throughout his lengthy congressional career and presidential campaigns.
In his speech, Paul passionately delivered his archetypal arguments for unrestricted personal liberty, unregulated free markets, uncomplicated monetary policy, minimal taxation, personal responsibility over welfare and, more broadly, a limited or perhaps entirely non-existent federal government.
But Paul also spoke about many of the views that have made him a thorn in the side of his Republican colleagues, as well as a fascinating and influential figure for many others across the political spectrum. His strong defense of civil liberties, opposition to the war on drugs, disapproval of foreign intervention, frustration with the status quo and skepticism of expanding executive power all made appearances in his nearly 50-minute address.
Below is a sampling of quotes from Paul's speech that exhibit some of the congressman's most compelling tenets and policy ideas. Whatever your personal political leanings, did the controversial yet principled congressman get some things right over the course of his career?
(Watch the entire speech below, or watch Paul's conclusion below the slideshow)
The Two Sides
"One side doesn't give up one penny on military spending, the other side doesn't give up one penny on welfare spending. While both sides support the bailouts and the subsidies for the banking and corporate elite, and the spending continues as the economy weakens and the downward spiral continues."
"Some decide what and whose freedoms to be limited. These are the politicians whose goal in life is power. Their success depends on gaining support from special interests. We don't need more isms. The great news is the answer is not to be found in more isms. The answers are to be found in more liberty, which costs so much less."
"The insidous nature of the erosion of our liberties and the reassurances our great abundance gave us evolved into a dangerous period in which we now live. Dependency on government largess. Today we face a dependence on government largess for almost every need, our liberties are restricted and government operates outside the rule of law, protecting and rewarding those who buy or coerce government into saving their demands."
Erosion Of Rights
"The PATRIOT Act and FISA legislation passed without much debate, resulted in a steady erosion of our fourth amendment rights. tragically, our government engages in preemptive war, otherwise known as aggression with no complaints were 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."
"It's now the law of the land that the military can arrest American citizens, hold them indefinitely without charges or trial."
Medical Marijuana & Hemp
"Why are sick people who use medical marijuana put in prison? ... Why can't American manufacturers make rope made from hemp?"
"Why is it the TSA is permitted to abuse the rights of any American travel by air?"
Drug War & Prison System
"Why should there be mandatory sentences, even up to life for crimes without victims as our drug laws require? ... 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?"
Foreign Intervention & War
"Why do we sacrifice so much getting this -- getting necessarily involved in border disputes and civil strife around the world and ignore the root cause of the most dangerous deadly border in the world -- the one between Mexico and the United States? ... Why can't people understand that war always destroys wealth and liberty?"
"Why did the big banks, the large corporations and foreign banks and foreign central banks get bailed out in 2008 and the middle class lost their jobs and their homes?"
Trust In Government
"Why should anyone be surprised that Congress has no credibility since there's such a disconnect between what politicians say and what they do? Is there any explanation for all the deception, the unhappiness, the fear of the future, the loss of confidence in our leaders, the distrust and anger and frustration? Yes, there is. And there's a way to reverse these attitudes. The negative perceptions are logical and a consequence of bad policies bringing about our problems. Identitification of the problems and recognizing the cause allow the proper changes to come easily."
"Why does the use of religion to support a social gospel and preemptive wars, both which require authoritarians to use violence or the threat of violence, go unchallenged?"
Strangers With Badges
"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 is it morallly acceptable that a stranger with a badge and gun could do the same thing in the name of law and order. Any resistance is now [met] with brute force, even imprisonment. This is done more frequently every day without a search warrant."
"Since 9/11, monitoring speech on the Internet is now a problem, since warrants are no longer required. The proliferation of federal crimes. The Constitution established four federal crimes. Today the experts can't even agree on how many federal crimes are now on the books. They number into the thousands."
"Due to the ill-advised drug wars and the endless federal expansion of the criminal code, we have over 6 million people under correctional suspension, more than the Soviets ever had and more than any other nation today, including China. I don't understand the complacency of the Congress and willingness to continue their obsession with passing more federal laws. More sentencing laws associated with drug laws have compounded our prison problems. The federal register is now 75,000 pages long and the tax code 72,000 pages, and expands every year. When will the people start shouting enough is enough and demand Congress to cease and desist?"
"Those who take us into undeclared wars with many casualties resulting never lose sleep over the deaths and destruction their bad decisions cause. They are convinced that what they do is morally justified in the fact that many suffered just can't be helped. When the street criminals do the same thing? They do have no remorse, believing they are only taking what is rightfully theirs."
Productivity & Creativity
"I never believed that the world, our country can be made more free by politicians if the people had no desire for freedom. Under the current circumstances, the most we can hope to achieve in the political process is to use it as a podium to reach the people to alert them of the nature of the crisis and the importance of their need to assume responsibility for themselves. If it is liberty that we truly seek, without this a constitutionally protected free society is impossible. If this is true, our individual goal in life ought to be for us to seek virtue and excellence and recognize that self-esteem and happiness only comes from using one's natural ability in the most productive manner possible, according to one's own talents. Productivity and creativity are the true source of personal satisfaction."
Changing Hearts & Minds
"It's also become clear why progress is best achieved while working with coalitions which bring people together without anyone sacrificing his principles. Political action, to be truly beneficial, must be directed toward changing the heart and minds of the people, recognizing that it's virtue and morality of the people that allow liberty to flourish. The Constitution or moral laws, per se, have no value if the people's attitudes aren't changed. To achieve liberty and peace, two powerful human emotions have to overcome. Number one is envy, which leads to hate and class warfare. Number two is intolerance, which leads to bigoted and judgmental policies. This must be replaced by a better understanding of love, compassion, tolerance and free-market economics. Freedom, when understood, brings people together. When tried, freedom is popular."