Former Congressman Ron Paul of Texas is a genuine American hero. He stood for a new way of thinking about America’s place in the world and recognized that the war party and its policies were both destructive to the US Constitution and imperiling liberties at home. He is a national treasure. But I sometimes have to wonder why he has surrounded himself with so many grifters? I keep getting emails from the Campaign for Liberty (C4L), which represents itself as an heir to the Paul legacy, even though it is nothing of the sort. It is a money generating machine preying on the millions of Americans who have fond memories of Dr. Paul, constantly promising to do something important tomorrow but never quite delivering. It ultimately benefits no one outside the small group of scalawags that did so little so poorly in the 2012 election campaign, failing disastrously to get Ron Paul either nominated or at least having a seat at the GOP table to advance his views. They cut deals with the Romney campaign and even kept Paul’s unhappy supporters from disrupting the convention’s proceedings. In return Dr. Paul got nothing.
Some of the folks associated with the campaign and C4L have been linked recently to bribery in Iowa and other malfeasance. The campaign manager Jesse Benton, became the $1.1 million dollar man while mismanaging the effort and is now working for the lugubrious Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Benton has stated that he does so holding his nose, which says a lot about the integrity of Benton and also reveals the cunning of perpetual Washington fixture McConnell, who hopes to attract Paul supporters and teabaggers when he runs in 2014.
Ron Paul had enormous appeal in 2012 which was not capitalized on by his handlers. In my state of Virginia, which was the only state where Paul ran head-to-head against Mitt Romney, the campaign was invisible even though well-connected contractor Mike Rothfeld reportedly billed the Paul campaign for $1,196,376 for “advertising, bulk mail, and email services” in Virginia in 2011 alone. I live in a battleground county but did not receive a single mailing, did not hear a radio ad or see a television commercial supporting Dr. Paul. A swing of 10% would have delivered Virginia to Ron Paul and it could have happened. If he had won the state it might have shifted the momentum of the entire campaign.
The C4L email is revealing. It starts off with a letter purportedly coming from Ron Paul himself which may or may not have actually been written by the former congressman. The letter and the following message from Campaign for Liberty look surprisingly like a similar letter and plea that went out in the late summer. It goes like this: the letter describes itself as the “most important” that Dr. Paul has ever sent because 2014 could be the critical year for Audit the Fed. It then goes on to claim that it is interested in my opinion on a “confidential 2014 Campaign for Liberty Membership Ballot,” the text of which is below:
DR. PAUL, PLEASE DO EVERYTHING TO KEEP ALL CRITICAL PROGRAMS IN PLACE, BUT I CHOOSE:
- PASSING AUDIT THE FED to help C4L shine a spotlight on the Federal Reserve’s devastating policies;
- REPEALING THE INDIVIDUAL MANDATE to help C4L fight for full repeal of ObamaCare’s individual mandate;
- STOPPING THE NATIONAL ID DATABASE to help C4L stop the statists’ latest push for a National ID program;
- PROTECTING OUR FOURTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS to help C4L end the National Security Agency’s ongoing violations of our Fourth Amendment rights;
- FIGHTING BACK IN 2014 to help C4L expose Big Government politicians and put candidates on the record on Liberty issues;
- FIGHTING EVERYWHERE. TO HELP C4L EXPAND ITS EFFORTS ON ALL FRONTS AND ENSURE ALL CRITICAL PROGRAMS ARE FULLY FUNDED.
No one is actually interested in my opinion because all the membership ballot offers me is the opportunity to check a box to endorse preapproved items on a somewhat skeletal menu of programs that I might not fully agree with. There is no room for discussion or disagreement or even a channel for communicating with the originators of the message, so I have to assume that it is only a mechanism for raising money. That’s what “fully funded” means. Also, the ballot itself reads like something that might have been produced for Monty Python’s Flying Circus in which the Minister of Housing promises 20 million new homes but only succeeds in building seven, but apart from amusement in reading my way through a lot of hyperbole mixed with empty pledges, why should I care?
The accompanying letter tells us why, because “this year Campaign for Liberty made tremendous progress in its efforts to pass Audit the Fed legislation.” I must have missed that breakthrough and have to wonder how exactly did they measure that alleged success? It also sounds an awful lot like the C4L emails that have been going out at regular intervals over the past four years saying the same thing.
The letter and ballot also endorse overturning the key component of Obamacare, stopping any attempt to introduce a national ID card, and working to “protect our Fourth Amendment rights” against NSA surveillance, but there is no depth or plan to what is being proposed and the letter and ballot together comprise little more than a short list of libertarian fantasies. And the reality is quite different. The Fed will not be audited and Janet Yellen will be confirmed to head it because it is not in the interest of the GOP or Democratic leadership to do otherwise.
Obamacare will not be overturned and, as awful as the individual mandate truly is, I would be interested in learning what Campaign for Liberty would do about the tens of millions of Americans who currently cannot get health insurance in a system in which we have allowed for-profit insurance companies to determine who lives or dies. I would like to learn the insurance status of C4L’s senior employees. Are they relying on charity when their children get sick or do they have a generous group plan paid for by Campaign supporters?
Likewise the NSA will pretend to reform itself but will continue to surveil all of us because the two parties in power would have it so, and it will do so secretly, just as it has been doing for the past twelve years. A national ID card? It already exists de facto in the form of the social security number and state drivers’ licenses but making it truly national and tamper proof might help control illegal immigration and could also help prevent the massive fraud in existing welfare, unemployment, Medicare, and social security programs. What alternative solution to these serious problems is Campaign for Liberty proposing apart from saying “no?”
But what is most significant about the email is what is completely missing – America’s overseas wars which have generated the two Patriot Acts, the Military Commissions Act, and the three most recent National Defense Authorization Acts. Founder James Madison observed correctly that “Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.”
Anyone who has followed Ron Paul, as I have, would know that he sought the presidency because of his concern over America’s aberrant foreign policy. Dr. Paul bravely opposed foreign aid and foreign interventionism as endorsed and practiced by the two mainstream parties, raising challenging questions about the status quo in the Republican debates and also in his speeches. He understands how central what occurs overseas is to America’s malaise, note his comment “If I didn’t have the foreign policy [views] I do, I don’t think we would be here tonight” delivered in his farewell speech to his supporters in as sports stadium in Tampa during the Republican convention after he was denied any access to the convention floor.
But go over to the anemic Campaign for Liberty website and you will detect nary a whiff of genuine Paul, nothing on foreign affairs, no mention of Syria, Libya, Iran or the domestic lobbies demanding more war. Nothing about the congressmen trying to undermine peace with Iran. It is as if multiple exhortations to audit the Fed and defeat Janet Yellen will solve all the problems actually caused by America’s evolution into an imperialist police state, but even there one tantalizing bit is curiously missing. Stanley Fischer is being promoted under the radar by the Israel lobby to take over the number two spot at the Fed. Fischer is head of the Bank of Israel and is a dual national Israeli-US citizen who has aggressively advanced Israel’s interests vis-à-vis the US Treasury. Something smells awfully bad about that appointment, but there is not a squeak coming out of C4L.
Campaign for Liberty’s public record speaks for itself. When it sponsors its annual “event” the Liberty Political Action Conference (LPAC) in Chantilly Virginia in September there are no panels on foreign policy and normally only one or two speakers who might peripherally address the issue. This is deliberate. This past year when I tried to pay for a table in the exhibitors’ hall to hand out information criticizing the US role in the Middle East I was turned down because the hall was reportedly full. In fact, it was half empty. So C4L is saying let’s not talk about America’s shameful behavior overseas, but I’ll bet there were some hot discussions about deregulating light bulbs and washing machines and lots of armchair revolutionary talk about how to get organized to stop things like national IDs and healthcare.
Which is all to say if you really are concerned because a brutal and brutalizing foreign policy is at the heart of the cancer afflicting our Republic some of Paul’s largely self-designated heirs and successors are a waste of time. So ignore those constant email solicitations for funds to continue to fight the good fight because the pleas are mostly designed to maintain the status and incomes of those who have already failed so miserably to deliver on Ron Paul’s promise. You might begin by emailing back and asking exactly how the money being raised is actually used. Who gets paid how much and for what? But if you dare suggest that America’s foreign policy mess is the driving force in our national decline, you will be ignored. If you observe that genuine Liberty is impossible for a nation that is constantly at war they will ask you for $50 to help them someday audit the Fed.