Former Rep. Ron Paul speaks about American liberty at Rutgers
Retirement from a more than 30-year tenure in Congress has not wavered former Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s (R) lifelong libertarian vision for America.
On Saturday night, Paul, a three-time U.S. presidential candidate, spoke about individual liberties, freedom of speech and what he sees as failed domestic and foreign policies in his address to a convention hosted by Young Americans for Liberty in the College Avenue Student Center.
“In the last 100 years, it is pretty accurate to say that personal liberty has been diminished greatly. But not the spirit of liberty, not the understanding of liberty,” Paul said.
In what he believes is a representation of the peril that liberty faces in contemporary America, Paul shared his thoughts on Apple’s refusal to comply with the FBI and unlock the cell phone of one of the perpetrators of the recent shooting in San Bernardino, California.
“They are claiming that Apple is unpatriotic … but what about the hypocrisy in saying that we are going to mandate that this company does something to undermine our liberties for safety and to enforce the law,” he said. “What about enforcing the Constitution?”
Paul said political groups advocating for gay, women's and religious rights also do a disservice to liberty. Everyone should be equal under the law anyhow, he said.
“We have to have a full understanding of what liberty is all about,” he said. “For me, liberty is an individual thing, not a group thing. Nobody should benefit by belonging to a group and saying there is a collective right.”
The former representative said freedom in America continues to be threatened by an expanding federal government, an intrusive National Security Agency and an ill-fated War on Drugs.
Matthew Boyer, New Jersey state chair of the Young Americans for Liberty and a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said there is a similar hindrance to liberty on campus, especially concerning the First Amendment.
“The free speech zones here (on campus) are blatantly unconstitutional and blatantly antithetical to higher education,” he said. “They come out of a desire to be politically correct, when in reality they don’t protect anyone from anything and they really just coddle students.”
The convention and other events have not only increased the awareness around the organization and its ardent beliefs in liberty, but they also ushered a much-needed debate in the University, Boyer said.
“If Young Americans for Liberty didn’t host Milo (Yiannoupolos) last week, then there would be no one talking about the fact that everyday, students’ First Amendment rights are being trampled on by the University,” he said. “At least people are talking about free speech.”
Paul, who has been labeled as an isolationist by some of his opponents, emphasized the absence of distinctions between Democratic and Republican administrations on foreign policy.
The numerous conflicts in the Middle East involving the United States government have done nothing to quell the rise of terrorism, Paul said.
“Someday this country has to wake up and realize that if there is a threat from terrorism, we ought to look to our foreign policy and understand the real issue of blowback,” he said. “We are responsible for some of those problems.”
Paul discussed the popularity of Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on college campuses across the country and attributed it to a lack of political information on what Sanders says is a futile economic system.
“(Socialists) say that we need to give free education, free medical care and free housing, but nobody really quizzes the people who are passing that,” he said. “Where are you going to get the money?”
Lauren Evans, director of events for the Young Americans for Liberty, said students at Rutgers and around the country should instead resonate with Paul’s ideals of freedom and vision for America.
“We shouldn’t inherit a society that is overspending and spying on our emails,” she said. “Young people get that and they know they have a responsibility to spend their money wisely.”
To conclude his address, the former Texas Congressman championed the libertarian values promoted by the Plymouth colonists.
“They said socialism doesn’t work,” he said. “Freedom does.”
Camilo Montoya-Galvez is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student majoring in Spanish and journalism and media studies. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum. Follow him on Twitter @camiloooom.