If you haven’t already registered for the Ron Paul Institute’s Peace and Prosperity Conference, now would be a great time to do so. When I spoke to RPI’s executive director Daniel McAdams about the conference a few weeks ago, he said that tickets were going fast and that space was limited. The date is Saturday, September 10, 2016. The time: 10:00a.m. to 3:00p.m. The place is the Washington Dulles Marriott. Only $65, including lunch. Register here.
Ron Paul has long been one of my real-life libertarian heroes. It is a big honor for me to be included among the speakers at this conference. Other speakers include Lew Rockwell, Brian McGlinchey, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Philip Giraldi, and, of course, Ron himself.
Permit me to explain why Ron Paul is one of my libertarian heroes. Four big reasons come to mind.
First, Ron has always embraced libertarianism, openly and unabashedly. Even though he was a Republican congressman, he has always embraced libertarians, the Libertarian Party, and the entire libertarian movement, unconcerned about how all this might be perceived among Republicans, Republican voters, and the mainstream establishment.
Second, when he was in Congress, Ron was unafraid to take lonely positions on congressional bills, even if he was the only one taking the position. What mattered to him was taking what he believed was the right position, not the popular or vote-garnering position. He has always been willing to take on the Republican establishment, the Democratic establishment, and the mainstream establishment for the sake of liberty principles—and always willing to pay whatever price that entailed.
Third, Ron has always been willing to take libertarian positions on the important issues of the day without concern for political expediency. His incessant calls for ending the drug war come to mind.
Fourth, and most important to me, has been Ron’s consistent advocacy of a non-interventionist foreign policy, a position he took in a 2008 presidential debate that he knew placed his entire presidential campaign at risk. He took a non-interventionist position anyway, and, interestingly enough, that was the point his presidential campaign took off, especially among young people.
Why is the fourth one the most important reason for me?
Many years ago — before 9/11 — I was at former Cato president Ed Crane’s annual Salmonfest party at his home. Someone there asked me, “What do you consider the biggest threat to our freedom and well-being?” I didn’t hesitate, responding, “The national security establishment and its foreign policy of interventionism.”
What happened after 9/11 has only reinforced my belief. We now live under a government that wields totalitarian-like powers over both the American people and foreign citizens. The power to assassinate. To incarcerate. To torture. To execute. Secret surveillance. All without due process of law and trial by jury.
None of this is consistent with a free society. And a free society is what libertarians are striving for.
And it’s all so unnecessary. The ongoing threat of terrorism is the direct consequence of the U.S. national-security state’s interventionism in the Middle East. If they hadn’t intervened in the Middle East, there would never have been the 15-year U.S. obsession with terrorism and Islam. The national-security state’s interventionist policies have given us the terrorist blowback, which has then been used as the excuse for adopting “emergency” permanent totalitarian-like powers.
This conference is important for two reasons: It will be addressing how things like foreign interventionism, empire, regime-change operations, coups, foreign aid, Guantanamo Bay, tribunals, denial of due process, torture, surveillance, invasions, and occupations are destroying freedom, peace, and economic prosperity in America. At the same time, however, it will show the way out — the way to a free, peaceful, harmonious, and prosperous society, which is what all of us want.
It would be easy for libertarians to become despondent over the prospects for a free society, especially given the statism of both Clinton and Trump. That would be a gigantic mistake. Ideas matter. They have consequences. They have the ability to bring enormous shifts in society, notwithstanding big and powerful political and bureaucratic establishments.
Look where ideas on liberty have brought us with the drug war. Twenty-seven years ago, when I founded FFF, those of us advocating drug legalization were a tiny bunch. Not anymore. Mainstream people from all walks of life are now endorsing drug legalization. Two states have already legalized marijuana, with more to follow. The feds aren’t even enforcing their own marijuana laws in those states. The drug war is teetering. Drug-war proponents have run out of arguments to justify their crooked, corrupt, destructive, and expensive government program. It’s just a matter of time that the drug war goes by the wayside.
The same thing is happening with respect to foreign intervention and foreign crises. People can see Iraq. Afghanistan. Yemen. Libya. Egypt. Syria. They can see the hellholes that U.S. interventionism has brought all across the Middle East. They are figuring out that terrorist blowback is the natural consequence of all this interventionism. They’re seeing how interventionism initiates new crises, such as in Ukraine, Korea, and the South China Sea.
Increasing numbers of Americans are questioning both of these statist shibboleths—the drug war and foreign interventionism. Ending these two massive federal programs would provide a pathway toward achieving the free society that we libertarians are striving for. Imagine if we were to succeed in the near term of ending both the drug war and foreign interventionism. Imagine the peace, prosperity, and harmony this achievement would produce for America. At that point, all bets for a free society would be on the table because people would naturally be more receptive to other aspects of libertarianism, including economic liberty.
We just have to keep on keeping on. That’s why this conference is so important. Ron Paul and the Ron Paul Institute are leading the American people to think at a higher level, one that asks the most important political question of our time: What is the role of government in a free society? They are leading America to freedom, peace, and prosperity.
The Future of Freedom Foundation and I personally are pleased and extremely excited to be participating in this conference. We hope to see you there. Working together, we can lead America and the world out of the statist morass in which they are mired and onto the greatest reaches of freedom mankind has ever seen.