February 15, 2008
Republican Presidential Candidate Calls For an End to Federal Income Tax and Less Concentration on Foreign Matters
Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul called for stricter adherence to the Constitution during an impassioned speech about his political ideologies on Feb. 13 at Georgetown.
The Texas congressman positioned himself as leader of a revolution that would tout a return to constitutional principles with a small federal government, no income tax and more concentration on domestic, rather than foreign, matters. He blamed many of the country’s problems on a willingness to ignore the founding fathers’ intent and a willingness to weaken the Constitution with amendments.
“We’ve made one serious mistake — we’ve ignored our Constitution,” Paul said in a speech frequently punctuated by cheers and chants from the audience. “If you want to get back to the basics and restore the principles of this country and this republic, we have to obey the Constitution.”
Though he is running on the Republican ticket, Paul identifies as a Libertarian, who advocate minimal government and social programs in favor of individual rights.
Freedoms are rapidly disappearing, Paul said, and Georgetown students should ask themselves one question: What should the role of the government be?
“The founders asked themselves that question and came up with a pretty good answer. They said the role of government should be one thing, to protect liberty,” he said. “That should be the only purpose of government.”
Freedom used to mean “freedom for you. You were in charge of your life and if you messed it up, it was your fault,” he continued. “If there is one thing I hope to achieve in this campaign, it’s to get people thinking what freedom is all about. The purpose of freedom is for us to lead our own lives, to promote our own virtue … Government interest destroys everything.”
He pinpoints the start of trouble when the government declared rights to include access to education, jobs and medical care.
“What you have is a right to your life. That’s what you have,” Paul said. “If that were fully understood, you’d have a right to the fruits of your labor, and you would be able to keep everything you earn and not have to share it with the big government.”
Paul came to Georgetown as part of the university’s presidential candidate lecture series. He is the second candidate to speak after Democrat Bill Richardson, who has since dropped out the race.
Enthusiastic supporters greeted Paul in Gaston Hall by chanting his name. Much of Paul’s base includes younger voters who have flocked to his Web site and set donation records — a $4.2 million take on Nov. 5, 2007 is most a GOP candidate has raised on a single day. The congressman said his message resonates strongly with Americans who want a different form of government that puts its citizens above foreign engagement.
Paul said military personnel are embracing that point in particular, and claimed he has received more donations from that group than all other candidates combined. However, research from the Houston Chronicle found this is only from donors who self-identified as military personnel, something that is not required, and many donors are civilian employees.
In a wide-ranging speech that touched everything from the war in Iraq to abortion to tax policies, Paul reiterated that the current generation of Georgetown students will pay the price for what he called mistakes of the government. He pointed to overspending, borrowing money from foreign governments and a financial strain on the middle class as unsustainable practices that will have significant fallouts.
While acknowledging he is not the front runner for the Republican nomination, Paul said his principles are stirring supporters’ passion about what the United States could accomplish.
But the night was not without detractors. To a mix of applause and boos from the audience, one Georgetown student questioned the candidate about racist and homophobic slurs that appeared newsletters published by Paul in the 1990s. Though Paul has since said he did not write the articles in question, the student pushed to know why Paul did not denounce the writings years ago when first confronted.
The congressman said it was a mistake and blamed the comments getting published on time constraints during his time as publisher. Paul also called himself “probably the biggest champion of rights for everybody.”
“A true Libertarian,” he said, “is incapable of being a racist.”