“The idea that we’re a lot better off materially, that is true, but it is an illusion,” he says. “Because it’s all on borrowed money.”
He blames the economists who follow the teachings of John Maynard Keynes: “Seventy years of Keynesian economics have taught us to live like drug addicts.”
Does he ever doubt that he’s right about all this?
“No, but I try to instill that doubt in [Federal Reserve Chairman Ben] Bernanke’s mind all the time. I tell him, ‘What if you’re wrong? You just spent 40 years writing all this stuff, and you’re wrong!’ ”
There aren’t many places on the planet that have adhered to Austrian economics. Paul says it has been tried to some extent in Switzerland and Hong Kong. And also Byzantium.
“If you go back to the Byzant, the Byzantine Empire, I think they had like a thousand years that they just used gold coins,” he says. “The Roman empire was stable for a long time, and then they fought too many foreign wars, and they inflated by diluting the metals and clipping coins. They went off sound money.”
The event on the seacoast turns out to be an excellent one, about 200 people filling a generic meeting room in an upscale hotel in downtown Portsmouth. The Paul campaign prefers relatively intimate gatherings. The challenge is finding a way to keep attendance down.
Such is the quirky nature of Paul’s candidacy. His faithful will drive hundreds of miles. They’ll show up wearing their “End the Fed” T-shirts and already knowing exactly what he thinks. But what Paul really needs are the undecided voters. Campaign staffers use direct mail to reach the undecideds and avoid hyping events on the Internet.
The congressman has come a long way from his days as a lonely voice on the fringe of the Republican Party.
“I watched him give speeches to five people and 10 people for many, many years,” his son Ronnie says.
Asked whether he’ll run as a third-party candidate in the fall, Paul said no, then added: “No intention of doing that.” He has run before, in 1988, as the Libertarian Party nominee, and finished a very distant third. Four years ago, he didn’t make a rogue bid for the presidency, but his situation is different this time, because he’s retiring from Congress and wouldn’t have to worry that party leaders would punish him for his apostasy.
His calculations may take into account the long-term interests of his son Rand, now a GOP senator from Kentucky, who is poised to represent the Paul brand in the Republican Party for another generation. If Paul made a third-party run in the fall, his support probably would come primarily at the expense of the Republican nominee.
But these are political calculations, and Paul is not someone who is terribly politic. He’s not a dealmaker and is not interested in forging bipartisan compromises.
When someone in Portsmouth asked him what he’d do to overcome the partisan divide in Congress, he said the gridlock was a blessing. It’s when the Democrats and the Republicans agree on things that he becomes most worried, he said. In his view, the moderates are the most dangerous people in Washington.
Paul has been rooted in place, philosophically. The world of late has been bending his direction. He’s not to be underestimated. He says what he believes, believes what he says.
There is no Ron Paul 2.0. This is the original.