Despite my animus towards Ron Paul over the years, you have to hand it to the guy; his ideas attracted a following far beyond his limited political abilities would have justified.
Yesterday, Rep. Paul gave what he billed a farewell speech:
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) delivered a blistering farewell speech on the House floor Wednesday in which he ripped the drastic tilt of the U.S. toward expanded government, a devalued currency, persistent wars and the constant erosion of personal freedoms.
Paul, who ran for president and decided this would be his last term as a House member, said at the start of his 16-page prepared speech that, by many measures, he accomplished very little during his 23 years in office.
"In spite of my efforts, the government has grown exponentially, taxes remain excessive, and the prolific increase of incomprehensible regulations continues," he said. "Wars are constant and pursued without congressional declaration, deficits rise to the sky, poverty is rampant and dependency on the federal government is now worse than any time in our history.
"All this with minimal concerns for the deficits and unfunded liabilities that common sense tells us cannot go on much longer."
But he said these failures show that people who favor big government have succeeded in convincing people that an ever-expanding government is necessary.
"[I]n the early part of the 20th century, our politicians promoted the notion that the tax and monetary systems had to change if we were to involve ourselves in excessive domestic and military spending," he said. "That is why Congress gave us the Federal Reserve and the income tax.
"The majority of Americans and many government officials agreed that sacrificing some liberty was necessary to carry out what some claimed to be 'progressive' ideas."
But he said this has led the U.S. down a path in which people now need an "intellectual awakening."
"If it's not accepted that big government, fiat money, ignoring liberty, central economic planning, welfarism, and warfarism caused our crisis we can expect a continuous and dangerous march toward corporatism and even fascism with even more loss of our liberties," he said. "Prosperity for a large middle class though will become an abstract dream."
We will have to wait and see, but the movement he started is probably a permanent fixture in American politics and could very well form the basis of a third party if his son and heir apparent Rand wants to take it that way. At the very least, they have the opportunity to transform the Republican party as the movement Paul headed continues to grow.
Can the movement make an electoral impact? Probably not in 2014. But if Rand Paul decides to make a go of it in 2016, he may surprise a lot of political professionals with his support at the grass roots level.