Between the Lines

Ron Paul, Now and Then

People don’t usually get more radical as they get older; it’s almost always the reverse.  And the successful politicians were never radical to begin with.

The one exception to this rule is Ron Paul.

Ron has been around a long time.  The 75-year-old 11-term U.S. representative from Texas ran for president on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1988, and before that was a fixture in the broader libertarian movement.  He was our Vito Marcantonio, our congressional Achilles who, in his younger days, never came across as a radical, either temperamentally or rhetorically.  His temperament remains admirably calm, but his rhetoric has shifted, over the years, emphasizing the one issue we former members of the Libertarian Party’s “Radical Caucus” had always feared he was soft on: foreign policy.

Watching the GOP presidential debate the other day, I was startled to hear Ron’s answer to a question about Iran’s nuclear weapons.  Why wouldn’t they want nukes? he asked.  After all, they’re surrounded by nuclear powers—Pakistan, Israel, the United States—with the latter two constantly threatening them.  Why is anybody surprised that they’d want to deter these threats?

I wouldn’t have put it quite that way, but he’s right.  What a long way Ron has come since the 1980’s, when he was supportive of the...

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