Former Texas Congressman Ron Paul likes to joke that when he gets invited to speaking engagements in Washington, DC, audiences typically don’t applaud. But at the Future of Freedom Foundation, Paul was right at home, delivering a speech entitled "Enemies: Foreign And Domestic" about how to apply the principles of non-interventionism in domestic and foreign policy.
He spoke about how his stint in Congress made him more skeptical of government and wary of the deep state’s capacity for maliciousness, beginning with his early days in Washington.
“When I went to Washington, I thought I had a pretty good understanding of the Constitution and we went back and forth and it turned out my understanding was completely wrong and they had to convince me. But I had a little trouble listening to their arguments. They told me that the Constitution should be more flexible, it should be a living document, that it shouldn’t be overly rigid, that’s how you get into trouble. I sort of struggled with that tremendously."
Paul says he didn’t strive to be the chairman of an important committee during his time in Congress. Instead, he studied the bureaucracy and concluded that government had become far too large.
"My goal wasn’t to be the chairman of the committee because to do that you have to sell your soul and raise money. In my case, I do believe that when people say I didn’t join the gang, it’s true. Matter of fact the longer I was there, I became more skeptical about the government…the government is way too big, too intrusive and I think it’s important we stick to our principles. I left Congress more opposed to big government."
When it comes to the question of Republicans vs. Democrats, Paul thinks this separation is a false distinction. Both parties share a philosophy of supporting welfare for both corporations and people.
“The bickering we hear has nothing to do with the most important issue and that is philosophy. I don’t believe there are two parties, I think there’s only one party. I think bipartisanship is very bad, everything that’s been done is done on bipartisanship. They agree on funding and not even examining the security documents in the CIA or when we go to war, they say ‘we’ll finance them.’”
"I remember one time one member of Congress he was working to get a credential that he was against corporate welfare and he wanted to cut the export-import bank by 5%, which meant nothing. We tried to cut it and it didn’t pass. The next vote I had, I wanted to abolish the export-import bank, so I supported his amendment to cut it a bit, but then he wouldn’t support mine."
Commitment to free markets should be absolute, Paul says. You can’t advocate for a little bit of intervention, or you surrender to the idea that intervention is right.
"But one problem, whether its foreign or domestic policy, if you concede the principle, you concede 100% of it. If we do such and such welfare program, or a little bit of war and a little bit of intervention, you concede this whole principle that we’re supposed to do it. You should take this principle of noninterventionism, and I love that term because noninterventionism tells you what liberty is all about and it would go a long way for foreign policy as well."
"If we believe in the cause of liberty, we should all be noninterventionist. We should have a government that does not intervene in peaceful activity of all citizens, just let us mind our own business and…if you believe in markets, you should have a noninterventionist market that doesn’t try to regulate the economy, just think of the 1000s of pages of regulations it’s too much regulation and in foreign policy it’s way overblown there’s way too much intervention."
"But there was a time when I started reading revisionist history when I started reading about the lead up to World War Two that there was supposedly knowledge about what was going to happen at Pearl Harbor – but I just didn’t want to believe that of my government it took a long time to soften my stand. I was drafted during 1962 during the Cuban crisis…I was flight surgeon at the airport in San Antonio when Kennedy was killed, but there was no way at that time that I would’ve said ‘well our government might’ve been involved - I wouldn’t have wanted to hear any part of that."
Noninterventionism is anathema to both political parties and many other elements embedded in the US government – the intelligence agencies, for example – which is why Paul warns that those who’ve sworn to uphold the Constitution – i.e. lawmakers – "don’t understand the damage they’ve inflicted."
"This whole idea of defending and supporting the Constitution is pretty important. How many people have said this oath in our government yet there’s not a whole lot of defense and support of the Constitution. The oath says against all enemies foreign and domestic. I’ve concluded if you really want to do that, then you only have about 50% of that responsibility because….there are a lot of enemies that are internal."
Paul singeled out the Department of Education as an example of government intervention gone horribly wrong. By turning on the student-debt spigot, the DOE ushered in the era of cheap student loans, triggering the beginning of the massive inflation in the cost of higher education.
"How did we get to this point where we’re so out of whack for what the intent was with our Constitution one of the most important issues that deals with it is the educational system…we have this totally bizarre monstrosity of cultural Marxism that is pushed by our universities Kid ends up with a degree and $70,000 worth of debt and he can’t get a job and he’s supposedly educated. The longer the federal government has been involved, the worse the education system has become."
"There’s no authority in the Constitution for the Federal government to be involved in education."