Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Most Important 4 Minutes and 34 Seconds for Liberty in the Early Part of the Twenty First Century

Whenever I meet libertarians new to me, I inevitably ask, "How did you become a libertarian?"

Remarkably, a large number respond, "Because of Ron Paul." This is especially the case with young libertarians. But lately when I have been given this answer, I have been paying closer attention to their answers. They almost always go on: "I was watching the presidential debates and saw Ron Paul in the debates."

Then they go even further in their answers from there: "I remember his back and forth with Rudy Giuliani."

Here's the clip of that back and forth, which occurred on Tuesday, May 15, 2008:

Think about this?

Ron Paul at this point in the debate was not afraid to speak truth. He was not afraid to go up against the establishment and he did not hedge his position. He was not attempting to count votes to see what the voters wanted him to say.

That's why Rudy Giuliani felt so comfortable going after Dr. Paul, at that point. He knew that it was an unprotected moment for Dr. Paul, from a political perspective. A politician simply seeking power would never have said what Dr. Paul said. Giuliani smelt blood, but instead, it turned into the greatest recruiting 4 minutes and 34 seconds that libertarianism has ever seen.

Inevitably, those who were influenced by the exchange, admittedly it wasn't all watchers of the debate just the thinkers and the curious, tell me that after the debate they googled "libertarianism," and came across the great libertarian sites: Mises.org and LewRockwell.com.

There are many lessons here, but the most important is not to flinch from speaking truth about liberty. We don't need any "appendages" to the non-aggression principle. Truth is what attracts the thinkers and the curious. These are the kinds of people that will overtime, as they learn more about liberty, become the torchbearers for liberty.

Dr. Paul in this back and forth also displayed how politics should be used, not to hedge principle, but to promote principle, with the political race as merely a marketing tool. Indeed, winning a political race has to be looked at suspiciously at this time, given the lack of general acceptance and understanding of libertarian principles amongst the masses. The way to run is the Ron Paul way, get the platform, speak the truth and lose. Lose the race that is, but win the liberty recruitment effort. (SEE: How to Run for Office Like Ron Paul).

The liberty movement needs many more moments like the moments at the Koger Center in Columbia, South Carolina on May 5, 2008.


  1. I love that clip. I watch it from time to time and I still get stirred up and excited every time. Ron Paul is the man.

  2. I watched that live and said to my wife, "I can't believe he just said that. Unfortunately, it will probably be the end of his campaign." I've never been happier to be wrong about something in my life. For the record, LRC converted me to libertarian in 2002 before I ever heard of Ron. Accepting that liberty requires allowing discrimination was probably the hardest part of my conversion.

    1. Mic-

      That's why gay, black, disabled, Muslims that espouse "brutalist" libertarian thoughts are so valuable.

      If someone who can benefit from The State explicitly attacks The State, it makes things better.

  3. Count me as one of those who underwent a huge and irreversible change in thinking as a result of that exchange between Paul and Guiliani.

    My real time reaction to that exchange: embarrassment for Paul and support for Guiliani.

    But Paul's words gnawed at me and kept gnawing at me, until in spite of the resistance of decades of holding certain views I was dragged to the point where I had to acknowledge: Paul was right, as well as courageous, as well as a man of extraordinary integrity.

    Facing the enormity of my error with respect to the role of the US in the world had other consequences. For example, I had for several years found myself increasingly uncomfortable with government as a monopolist of force within the straightjacket of a moral and legal code, a constitution, limited to protection of individuals against domestic and foreign aggression and to the role of arbiter of contract dispute. I'm amazed and not a little chagrined that it hadn't occurred to me that words on paper, no matter how eloquent, no matter how right, no matter how true, do not defend against violence. It's the logical equivalent of eradicating murder by passing a law against it.

    Hoping that government can be bound by the chains of a constitution is no different from hoping one won't fall when he steps from a tall building. Both hopes fly in the face of reality, of the Law of Identity in the sense that Rand used that term.

    Ron Paul's performance in that 2008 debate began an intellectual avalanche for me whose scope was much greater than the substance of the debate.

    I love the man.

    1. I watched that debate live as well, but was a little farther along my path to principled libertarianism (please don't take that as a boast) so was cheering for Dr. Paul. Not only did he not back down in the face of that pompous windbag, he doubled-down and went for the kill in response. What struck me the most were the comments from those craven members of the press afterwards, especially that creep Hannity.

  4. Ahaahahahaha. They're like "Crap, this guy is making too much sense. CHANGE THE SUBJECT!"

  5. The thing that blows me away - every time - is how calm Dr. Paul responded to Guliani. The whole room was clapping against him, and he let it just fall away, and doubled down.

    Just awesome.

  6. It took me two watches to get it, but this was my "moment of awakening" as well.

  7. Will a Rothbardian libertarian ever sneak on to a nationally televised presidential debate and speak unspeakable truth again?

    Judge Nap might be able to pull it off. He needs to be drafted into service.

  8. This was actually May 15, 2007 in Columbia, South Carolina at the Koger Center for the Arts at the University of South Carolina.

  9. Yes, you are absolutely right... This was probably the greatest moment and I remember it dearly. I have many times tried to get people to watch that clip so they can maybe see something that I saw with regard to liberty, foreign policy, and what Ron stands for. It has usually fallen on deaf ears.

    After this debate, they limited his speaking time drastically, and stayed away from subjects as touchy as this. But this was enough to make me watch the rest of them, even for the 89 seconds he was sometimes allowed. I remember telling those around me, "Shut up, they gave him a question!"