- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 1, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

OP-ED

Most presidential campaign books come at the beginning of the campaign season. This gives even a bad campaign book undeserved relevance. But the increased relevance is generally offset by discernable reductions in candor and specificity, so as not to provide one’s opponent with too many inviting targets.

Ron Paul’s “The Revolution: A Manifesto” defies this convention. Writing at the end of his campaign, and therefore knowing he will not be the next president, Mr. Paul forcefully articulates our bedrock constitutional principles and energetically advances his argument that these principles can restore American greatness for years to come ,if we will only return to them now.

And although Mr. Paul’s presidential campaign is over, this is indeed a manifesto, not a memoir. These are political principles for our future, things Mr. Paul wants us to remember after he has left the rostrum.

Mr. Paul’s central thesis is that we have departed from the principles of our nation’s Founding in ways that systematically make us less free. Consequently, we now have a much larger, more powerful national government, one our Founders would not recognize - or might recognize as an empire doomed to the fate of all previous empires.

Such a thesis could easily become unbearably dark and tedious. But Mr. Paul, a medical doctor, makes his diagnosis in seven concise and lucid chapters that never lose the thread of hope for recovery.

Five of these chapters correspond to broad substantive areas of national policy: Our role in foreign affairs (too imperial); the scope of federal power (too broad); fiscal and regulatory interference with free enterprise (too heavily distorted by “looting”); recent incursions on civil liberties and personal freedom (too lawless and/or utopian); and the foundations of our monetary system (too shaky).

Mr. Paul’s ideas on these subjects are not new, but they are well explained and supported here. Often, he draws on his personal experiences, as a doctor, a congressman and a candidate. He marshals facts. He does not split hairs. (On Social Security: “The fact is, there is no money in any trust fund. The government spent it on other things.”)

Indeed, a great virtue of Mr. Paul’s manifesto is that he states his views strongly and then deals openly with the counter-arguments his formulations invite. He knows, for example, that calling income taxation “forced labor” will raise eyebrows and that most will regard his proposal to abolish it as impractical.

But Mr. Paul counters that income taxes on individuals account for only about 40 percent of federal revenues, and asks, “is it really so radical? In order to imagine what it would be like to live in a country with a federal budget 40 percent lower than the federal budget of 2007, it would be necessary to go all the way back to … 1997.”

Not every argument is equally strong. Despite Mr. Paul’s admirable discussion of inflation and its causes, many will be unpersuaded that a return to the gold standard is the only or even the best answer. But even on this relatively weak point of Mr. Paul’s program, he is surely right to wonder why fundamental questions of monetary policy are perpetually off the table.

Mr. Paul notes that comedian Jon Stewart asked Alan Greenspan why the Federal Reserve intervenes in credit markets at all, but few “serious” journalists share Mr. Stewart’s curiosity.

Interestingly, this complaint goes both ways. Media pundits often criticize the candidates for their vacuities, but here is Ron Paul, raising the questions and attracting a strong following, outperforming media magnets like Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani, yet the press never quite took him seriously as a candidate.

We should all take his manifesto seriously. The McCain and Obama campaigns should both study Mr. Paul’s “Revolution” as they fight for independent votes in November. This would be a closer fight than Mr. Paul’s image as a “far right” Republican would suggest, and one on which Mr. Obama may in fact have the edge.

As for Mr. Paul himself, his presidential campaign has been converted into the “Campaign for Liberty,” an advocacy organization that will try to inject Mr. Paul’s paleoconservative principles into our political discourse and support candidates who share them. Could Mr. Paul’s “Revolution” reverse the “do something” bias in American politics and create a consensus for letting government do less? Mr. Paul puts the choice starkly before us: “If freedom is what we want, it is ours for the taking. Let the revolution begin.”

Mark Grannis is a lawyer in Washington, D.C.

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