Just days after scaling back his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.) railed against the mainstream political establishment in Gaston Hall last night, advocating his libertarian philosophy of limited government and personal freedom.
“People don’t have rights to jobs and they don’t have rights to medical care or rights to education,” Paul said. “What you have is a right to your life. That’s what you have.”
“We’re told that’s not compassionate,” he added. “But if you look at all of history you’ll find out that the most uncompassionate system of all is socialism and welfarism.”
The event, sponsored by the Lecture Fund, College Republicans and GU Vote ’08, attracted a sizable crowd that filled Gaston’s first floor and part of its balcony. When Paul entered the room to an announcer who would have sounded more at home at a boxing match, he received a standing ovation.
Paul began his speech by addressing his campaign’s failure to translate his support to the voting booth, despite his sizable online following and the fundraising record he set with a one-day haul of nearly $6 million.
“Why aren’t we getting more votes?” Paul asked. “It is a problem. I don’t have it fully explained, but there’s only one law I’m proposing … From now on we’re going to have our elections on the internet.”
Paul called the nature of his support “a two-edged sword for us. It was an independent campaign but it was laissez-faire,” he said.
William Galston, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, said that Paul lacked relevance to the 2008 election because of his failure to expand his base or effectively use the money he raised.
“This guy has been flying solo all his life and the idea of building an organization and actually making strategic investments in a campaign is just not the way he’s ever thought,” he said.
Paul dedicated the majority of his speech to criticism of “big government,” including the war on drugs, the U.S. government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Reserve and America’s interventionalist foreign policy. He often contrasted his views with what “they,” the mainstream establishment, believed.
“If we don’t support the war, they’ll say we don’t support the troops,” he said. “What about supporting the troops by keeping them out of these no-win wars?”
The one contentious moment of the evening came when Nick Sementelli (SFS ’09) questioned Paul about a newsletter published in the nineties under Paul’s name, which contained seemingly racist statements.
“It was neglect,” Paul said. “Some people are imperfect.”
“A true libertarian is incapable of being a racist,” Paul added.