Ron Paul's libertarian ideology is dramatically revealed when you get him started on topics such as the War on Drugs, the FDA and forced immunization that draw on his background in medicine. Paul, a ten-term member of Congress who's hoping to pick up the Republican nomination for president, feels strongly that the federal government, in most cases, shouldn't be telling Americans what they can and cannot put into their bodies.
"I don't think anything should be forced on us by the government, [and] immunization is one thing that we're pressured and forced into," he said. "The other thing they're doing right now is the government's doing this mental health testing of everybody in school and they're putting a lot of pressure, in a way forcing kids to be put on psychotropic drugs, which I think are very, very dangerous. So anything medical that is forced on us I think is bad."
What if a dangerous disease was spreading like wildfire? Would Paul cave and require immunization in such a dire situation?
"No, I wouldn't do it, because the person who doesn't take the shot is the one at risk..." he said. "A responsible parent is going to say, 'Yeah, I want my child to have that,' [but] when the government makes a mistake, they make it for everybody. You know, that's what worries me. They don't always come up with the perfect answer sometimes... and people have had some very, very serious reactions from these immunizations."
Just as Paul wants to limit what Americans are forced to put in their bodies, he also wants to restrict the federal government's dictates of what Americans are allowed to consume.
"I want the [federal] government to stay out of it," he said. "I don't think the federal government should be enforcing laws against the use of marijuana in states like California, where it's been legalized for medical use... I just think the states should regulate it."
Paul compared the War on Drugs to the long-ago repealed Eighteenth Amendment banning the manufacture and sale of alcohol in the United States.
"I think the prohibition of drugs and the War on Drugs has been every bit as detrimental as the prohibition of alcohol," he said. "We probably have more danger in our prescription drugs and more addiction from those drugs--there's a great deal of harm."
He added: "If we accept this notion that the federal government is going to dictate what we can put into our bodies, then it leads to the next step: that the government is going to regulate everything that is supposedly good for us. That's where they are. They have an FDA that won't allow somebody who's dying to use an experimental drug which might speed up the process of finding out which drugs are good and which drugs are bad and the federal government comes in and dictates that they want complete control over vitamins and nutritional products and I just think the whole principal of government telling us what we can take in or not take in is just a dangerous position to take... it's related to the drug industry because they'd like to control all of this."
Although he concedes that some regulation is prudent, the situation under a Paul Administration would be vastly different than where things stand today.
"[When] it comes down to... the use of drugs for kids and other things they have a right to regulate it. They regulate alcohol all the time, not very well but at least they can do it," he said. "[But] I don't think you need the federal government sending their policemen out to try to enforce a law that's virtually unenforceable."
Paul, who ran for president as a Libertarian in 1988, clearly has a strong desire for change, and has done surprisingly well in caucuses and primaries so far -- coming in second in Nevada, for instance. Still, most pundits do not think he'll get the nomination this time around, either. If that turns out to be the case, would he ever consider running for president again in the future?
"Well, I probably wouldn't want to run again, but I can't believe any time in my life I would not want to promote these views, because I'm so firmly convinced that it would be beneficial to all of us," he said.