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Where have all the revolutionaries gone?

Ron Paul looks back to prescribe America’s way forward 

Joshua Longobardy

No truer American exists today than Ron Paul. That, to his misfortune, was a prime reason for his poor standing in the 2008 race to become the next president of the United States.

Paul’s gospel—an old and idealistic one, derived both from the Constitution and the Founding Fathers who wrote it and from his own inflexible faith in the historical document and its authors—was often censored during presidential-primary debates, either by time, other candidates or the general media machine governing politics in America today. At times, Paul, a Libertarian who ran as a Republican, was outright banned from public debates.

And so he wrote this book, a manifesto of sorts, which allows him the time and space to elaborate the ideas which in reality are not his but adopted from America’s nascent times, and which provides him a means for his message to be heard in its entirety. The epitome of which is this:

Government must decrease; freedom must increase.

In this way, Paul wishes to ignite a revolution, just as he strove to do without success during his presidential campaign. “Here is my effort to give [people] a long-term manifesto based on ideas, and perhaps some short-term marching orders,” he writes.

It’s not likely to happen, as the realities of the book, the time and place in which it appears, do not match its grand ambitions. But it is interesting enough to follow the revolutionary Paul as he attempts—with great simplicity—to square the circumstances in which America finds itself today with the edicts prescribed by our nation’s forefathers.

Paul has drunk deeply from the texts of the old patriotic philosophers, such as Thomas Jefferson and William Howard Taft, the former president and Supreme Court Justice who wrote many opinions reconciling the Constitution to the issues of the day. Paul laments our country’s present state of economic, foreign and overall political affairs, and offers the same guiding principle as remedy to them all—that of less government intervention.

Which translates to pulling out of Iraq, retracting America’s 714 military bases worldwide, eliminating the federal income tax and forbidding elected officials any power that is not explicitly ascribed to them by the Constitution.

Many of Paul’s ideas are impractical at this point in time—the exact reason he had been cast off as a non-credible presidential candidate before he could elucidate his vision. Judging by the sound bites, YouTube clips and tiny morsels of his ideas fed piecemeal through the media this year, his message did appear to be, as many of his critics doomed it, “pie in the sky.”

But Paul explains it in The Revolution like this:

“We have lost our belief that freedom works.”

He might very well be right. If Paul’s message is not truth, it is at least the stuff of good discourse, so long as someone is willing to hear him out. 

The Revolution: A Manifesto

****

Ron Paul

Grand Central Publishing, $21

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