Ron Paul just turned 80.
Ronald Ernest Paul was born on August 20, 1935 in the midst of the Great Depression. He served as an obstetrician-gynecologist from the 1960s to the 1980s. The term “serve” is used too loosely with government workers. Ron Paul really did serve as a doctor and perhaps he is one of the few you could say served as a politician.
He was first elected to Congress in 1976 in a special election after first losing in 1974. Later that year in 1976, he lost his election by just a couple of hundred votes. He then went on to win a rematch in 1978, and then won again in 1980 and 1982.
Ron Paul won the Libertarian Party’s nomination for president in 1988. He ended up receiving just over 430,000 votes – just under half a percent of the vote – at a time when libertarianism wasn’t all that popular, to say the least.
Paul returned to the House of Representatives after winning election in 1996. He served from January 1997 until his retirement from Congress in January 2013.
His biggest claim to fame now is his run for president on the Republican Party ticket in 2008 and 2012.
In 2007, he surprised much of the nation with his libertarian message that motivated tens of thousands of people to get active for his campaign. He went head-to-head with Rudy Giuliani in a debate where Paul said that the September 11 terrorist attacks were a result of blowback from decades of U.S. government intervention overseas.
All of a sudden, there were money bombs where Paul was raising millions of dollars in a day. These were spontaneous events, not originally orchestrated by the Paul campaign.
Paul ended up making a big impact, but fell far short of beating the Republican establishment. Amazingly, for the few states that counted his votes in the general election, he still received over 42,000 votes while not running.
He tried again in 2011/ 2012, but again came up short against the establishment. When all of the votes were totaled for the primaries, Paul received over 2,000,000 votes. This is quite an astounding number for just primaries. He had come a long way from 1988.
I don’t think young libertarians today understand just how popular libertarianism is today compared to just a decade ago. I started reading Ron Paul’s material around 2002 or 2003. This was at a time when the only people who knew of Ron Paul were libertarians (which were few), or people who lived in his district, or the parents of the babies that he delivered.
As a libertarian today, I am far more optimistic than I was just 10 years ago. The movement has grown by leaps and bounds. We owe it to a variety of reasons. Some of it is technology and the internet. Some of it is general discontent with government. Some of it is because of Ron Paul’s presidential runs, starting in 2007.
We also cannot ignore the vital importance of the groundwork that was laid. Libertarians get frustrated because of a lack of progress. Most libertarians feel like they are either speaking to the choir, or they are speaking to people who don’t care or just don’t get it.
Sometimes it is like pushing a big truck. You push and push at the beginning and it barely moves an inch. But as you push more, and more people join in, all of a sudden the wheels start turning and gaining momentum.
The groundwork was laid by Ron Paul in his earlier years. It was laid by people like Lew Rockwell. It was laid by some people who are no longer alive, such as Murray Rothbard, Ludwig von Mises, and Ayn Rand (who wasn’t a self-described libertarian). There are many people who have contributed throughout the years.
Ron Paul will probably go down in history as the most influential person in the move towards liberty in the history of the world. Most people don’t recognize this now, but I believe that will be the case.
He has retired from Congress, but he hasn’t slowed down. He puts out almost-daily videos, he has a homeschool curriculum, he has a Peace and Prosperity Institute, and he continues to write books and articles. He is probably working as hard now as ever.
Thank you Ron Paul for all you have done for the cause of liberty. You stood up when most everyone else would not. You refused to sell out to the special interests. You stood on principle. You used your political office, not as a way to pass laws, but as a platform to educate others.
Happy Birthday Ron!