When Ron Paul campaigned for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, I had no idea who he was nor did I care much for politics, let alone his. Like many recent high school grads, the extent of my interest in politics didn’t go much further than the U.S. Government class I was required to take to graduate. I was what you would call a single issue voter.
The only issue that I really cared about at the time was, admittedly, marijuana legalization. Yes, I was one of the kids that spent his days before–sometimes during–and after school smoking weed. I literally sat through school sleeping until I could leave and go smoke. You could say I was bored with my education. I tired of listening to teachers and their sometimes ludicrous assignments and consigned myself to sitting in the back of the classroom so that I would be allowed to sleep, undisturbed. Apathy dictated my high school years. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy learning, but I was bored and didn’t really give a shit.
Fast forward to the 2012 Republican primaries. It was campaign season, and the debates between Republican candidates Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul were just starting to heat up. To be honest, I was mostly interested in seeing if any of these candidates embraced marijuana legalization. President Obama had never actually opined for the plant’s legalization, but his pro-marijuana statements were enough to get many young peoples’ votes, crucial to his being elected in 2008. This somehow led to the erroneous belief that Obama would push for legalization of the plant, which never happened.
Personally, I wasn’t disappointed. I mean, it’s not like he had promised to legalize. No promises were broken. With the Republican primary race in full swing, I wanted to see whether I actually had any real hope of seeing marijuana legalized, or if I would have to wait yet another four years to get my hopes up. It was soon after that I started to pay attention to Dr. Paul.
Here was this stoop-shouldered, old Texan with a slight stutter who spoke with such passion and reason I couldn’t help but pay attention. Mostly, he talked about economic and foreign policy issues that I had little knowledge of. Even before I knew his stance on ending the War on Drugs, for some reason Dr. Paul’s honest delivery and conviction stood out to me. I knew that he had been in Congress for years, but beyond that I defected to my parents’ opinion of him: crazy.
I started to do some research on Dr. Paul’s background and found that he was a man of extremely reputable character. He was an anomaly from the get-go. Defying conventional opinion of politicians; a brief look at his voting record betrayed the saying that all politicians are liars. With voting records now published online and easily accessible, I would have been able to find out right away if he had voted contradictorily to what he said. Here was a politician that held an ideology that sometimes went against his personal views, yet defended it to the death because of his conviction in its power to affect widespread positive societal improvement.
I suppose at this point it’s important to iterate my own opinions on liberty. Mostly, I don’t think it’s proper to glorify the idea of liberty to the extent that some do, and I think that it even hurts the movement as a whole when some consider themselves missionaries of the ideology. I don’t worship liberty, but I do see it as a fundamental right for humanity—and liberty to me means the ability to make decisions regarding your own social, economic, and political lifestyle, as long as they’re peaceful.
I researched Dr. Paul online, found YouTube videos of him speaking, and was instantly hooked. Beyond marijuana legalization, I found that I agreed with everything that he pushed for: his main issues that stood out to me were a non-interventionist foreign policy, ending the War on Drugs, returning to some semblance of budgetary balance, accountability of the Federal Reserve, and free markets. As I know now, these very ideas form the primary backbone of the liberty movement. Before, liberty was just something I included in the Pledge of Allegiance and was told that it was somehow crucial to being American. I had never bothered to ask why. Once I did, I came upon entire organizations devoted to spreading the ideas of liberty. They’re dedicated to educating any who might listen on the importance of social, economic, and political freedom.
Since initially paying attention to Ron Paul and happening upon the liberty movement, I feel like it is almost my civic duty to at least inform others of these ideas, even if they disagree. These ideas are founded in reason and logic. These days, you’ll find me telling any like-minded friends who will listen how a lazy stoner like me was motivated by liberty not only to get off my ass, but to learn. I’ve come to the conclusion that the ideas are ultimately important beyond me. Although I find it wrong to tell others they hold erroneous opinions, all I can do is to try to help inform and see where that takes them. I don’t think I’m alone in finding Dr. Paul’s passion contagious. At the same time, I’m not glorifying the man, but the ideas that he manages to deliver are powerful, and it’s these ideas that are worth paying attention to.
Even though Dr. Paul did not win the 2012 Republican primary, he instilled something far more important, affecting an entire generation still in its intellectual infancy. I truly believe that these ideas will come to reach more people in the future and will affect many in the same way that they have moved me.
I think it’s only fitting that I end this article in Dr. Paul’s own words:
Ideas are very important to the shaping of society. In fact, they are more powerful than bombings or armies or guns. And this is because ideas are capable of spreading without limit. They are behind all the choices we make. They can transform the world in a way that government and armies cannot. Fighting for liberty with ideas makes more sense to me than fighting with guns or politics or political power. With ideas, we can make real change that lasts.