Ron Paul has had a long and varied career that includes over 20 years in and out of Congress, three intermittent presidential runs and a delivering over 4,000 babies as a gynecologist.
Yesterday his career came to a pinnacle when the House finally passed his "Audit the Fed" bill. His flagship issue throughout his political career, the bill requires a full audit to the Federal Reserve, which Paul says is producing too much money, putting the American economy at risk. This legislative Victory, as well as his esteemed career and character, were honored with the the first annual 'Ron Paul Legacy Award' at a Young Americans for Liberty conference.
Ron Paul is sometimes called the "Godfather of the Tea-Party" Movement, and the truth is that he has been defending the Constitution long before there was a tea party. His Libertarian views have garnered a strong grassroots following, albeit too small to keep him in the 2012 presidential race. Some of his beliefs, like returning to the Gold Standard or eliminating certain Federal Agencies, have kept him from building a following with the mainstream public or in Congress. Nevertheless, he has relentlessly worked in Congress to uphold his values and to rekindle the Liberty that our Founding Fathers envisioned.
To a fast growing group of young Americans, Dr. Paul is an American Hero. Rather than follow party lines, he stands hard on his beliefs and economic principles. He goes against his party and conventional politics with a non-interventionist foreign policy. A Veteran of the Air Force, Paul believes that the U.S. Military is out of line -- especially when it comes to budget expenditures. The U.S. Military spends more than all other Major powers combined, and the 2012 budget alone is over $1 trillion. Paul is known to say that "it's not our job to police the world," and has been an outspoken critic against wars in Iraq and Iran. He thinks there can be no effective deficit reduction without huge cuts to military spending, ostracizing him from the mainstream GOP.
Another value that Paul strongly advocates for is a fair, free market. He believes in American opportunity, and wants Federal regulations out of small business. He believes that people should choose for themselves, and that states should regulate for themselves. He supports Raw Milk, which he says is healthier than pasteurized milk, and allows the farmer to sell locally rather than being forced to sell to industrial dairy processing facilities.
He also is an advocate for industrial hemp farming, which he says is a prime example of how Federal regulations can get in the way of the free-market. Hemp, once grown by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, was a major cash crop for American farmers for well over 200 years. Even in the early 1900's hemp was called a "Billion Dollar Crop" because of it's strength and versatility.
Today, Federal policy bans American farmers from growing hemp, despite growing markets and use in Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Europe, and China. Seventeen states have already passed pro-hemp legislation, prompting a senator last month to call the current Federal policy "Outlandish [and] outrageous."
The policy is certainly outrageous, but more outrageous, that Ron Paul was the only Congressman willing to author such a bill. Until now.
Last year, Ron Paul announced that he would not seek re-election. His son, Senator Rand Paul, is already carrying on his legacy as a value driven freedom fighter in Congress, willing to raise and fight for issues based on values. Both inspired a packed room of young students and activists yesterday. Their message -- carry on the legacy, fight against the status quo. You have a responsibility -- to your children, to your grandparents, to your country, to yourself -- to educate yourself and become engaged. Take a look at cable news, take a look at our current political gridlock, take a look at our economy, at the global economy. At worst, we are in crisis, at best, we are at a crossroads. If we do not become passionate for a better America, who will?