Ron Paul Promotes Libertarian Ideals

Julia Herbst, News Editor

Ron Paul, former Congressman and three-time presidential candidate, spoke to a packed house in Finney Chapel on Sunday night, the first of two speakers hosted this week by the Oberlin College Republicans and Libertarians. He covered a range of topics in his address, titled “Liberty, Defined,” including his views on the economy, foreign policy and personal freedom.

Paul, who was introduced by Nick Miller, College senior and president of the OCRL, received a standing ovation by much of the crowd as he walked onstage. He began by directly addressing the college students in the audience.

“All the young people and all the young at heart who love liberty, thank you for inviting me,” said Paul. “It is great to come to college campuses. I did a lot of that in the campaign and I continue to do this. Now, I’ve been asked rather recently, by your president [Marvin Krislov], ‘What are you doing these days?’ And I told him I’m a lobbyist. … I lobby for liberty by going to the campuses of America who are interested in liberty.”

As a member of the House of Representatives, Paul frequently voted against government intervention in foreign countries, including U.S. involvement in Iraq in 2002 and sanctions against Iran in 2010. Much of his talk on Sunday focused on his policy of non-intervention.

“America was never a perfect country, but we got around to a point about 100 years ago where we called ourselves an exceptional nation. Well, I like to think of ourselves as being exceptional in the way that we had, not a perfect, but a pretty darn good Constitution. … But today, we have a whole philosophy that says our American exceptionalism means that we have this moral obligation to police the world.”

Another key element of the speech involved his desire to limit government intervention in the personal lives of citizens.

“I happen to think the best way to make sure the maximum number of people have a house and have a job is to protect civil liberties and economic liberties alike and make the government minimal, and make sure people can’t rob, steal or hurt anybody,” said Paul.

He connected this idea of minimizing the role of government to his belief in the legalization of drugs — a statement that was greeted with loud applause.

“We have … intellectual freedom. But why is it, for a hundred years now, why is it that people have accepted the notion that those bureaucrats and the politicians know exactly what you should or should not put in your mouth or in your body? I think if you have the right to think about your eternity or your intellectual mind, you ought to have the right to determine what you put into your body, whether it hurts you or not. That’s your decision, and we don’t need the War on Drugs.”

The talk concluded with Paul answering questions from audience members regarding his viewpoints on topics such as environmental protection and the limits of a two-party system.

The discussion of liberty continued on Tuesday night in West Lecture Hall, when the OCRL hosted William Flax, OC ’56, who delivered a talk called “Defining Liberty Continued.” Flax, an attorney from Cincinnati, published a book titled, “The Conservative Debate Handbook” ran for Congress in 1974.

He currently runs a website promoting his ideas on government and social issues, including feminism, which is described on the website as “an attack on femininity … ultimately an attack for our capacity for happiness, even on life itself.”

Flax said that he was happy to return to Oberlin to complete his “unfinished business” of promoting a conservative viewpoint.

“I was here from ’52 to ’56, and in those days Oberlin was about ideologically where it is now, but you didn’t have a strong counterforce like you do now with [OCRL]. I won’t say I was the lone wolf. I had a sizable bunch of closet support.”

In an interview with the Review, Flax expressed concern about the nature of political rhetoric in the country.

“We have what I call the politics of the 30-second sound bite today. Now I cannot imagine anybody, no matter what their political ideology is, anybody with any kind of optimistic or hopeful view of the future who could possibly justify our present politics: the politics of the 30-second sound bite and people throwing slogans back and forth. If this is the future, it’s a very dismal future,” said Flax.

During his talk, he spoke favorably on Paul’s politics, but spent the majority of the lecture taking a historical approach to explain his critique of the government, including nationalized healthcare.

“This Obamacare is to basically revise the plantation medical system. The slaves on the Southern plantations had twice yearly medical examinations and their health was much better than it was after freedom. The government does not have the power to treat us like its serfs.”

Though the talk ran for approximately two hours, including a question-and-answer session, there were only approximately 10 people in attendance. Taylor Reiner, Conservatory senior and vice president of the OCRL, expressed disappointment in the number of attendees, which he felt limited the ability to have a more significant discussion.

“With an event that had as much interest as the Ron Paul event, selling out Finney within a week, we figured [there would be more attendees],” said Reiner. “One of the complaints people have had in the past is that a lot of our events are just a lecture and a question-and-answer [session] and there isn’t much opportunity for a discussion afterwards. That’s what we had in mind when we put this event together, but not that many people showed up.”