Published on 01-12-2013 06:09 PM
Ron Paul is officially no longer a congressman. Gone from the Washington scene is his tendency to cast lone votes, his unique willingness to point out that government is inherently based on violence. Paul will continue to be a public spokesman for libertyóabout the only part of his job as congressman he liked anyway.
He leaves behind a contested legacy. As Paulís detractors will tediously point out, being one of 435 in Congress with views vastly different from your colleaguesí means you will neither pass many laws, nor prevent many laws from being passed, nor shape the ethos of the House. Paul did, though, succeed in shifting ďAudit the FedĒ from an issue no one knew or cared about to a bill that has passed the House twice.
Through his Republican presidential runs in 2008 and 2012, he conjured a large and dedicated army of libertarian activists and politicos where one hadnít existed before, though we donít know how many of the 2.1 million people who voted for him in GOP primaries in 2012 are as hardcore libertarian as Paul. Two thriving organizations, Campaign for Liberty and Young Americans for Liberty, arose from those campaigns and survive his congressional career.
But can lasting change within our sclerotic political system arise from a movement as insurrectionist and outside the mainstream as Paulís? And will he have any heirs to keep what he started rolling? A vote total of 2.1 million is a surprisingly impressive number, to be sure, especially for such a harsh critic of empire, drug wars, and fiat money. But it still represents a decidedly losing portion of what was, nationally in 2012, a losing party.
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