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January 4, 2008

Bill Moyers talks with Ron Paul

BILL MOYERS: In politics, it's usually the insurgent who carries the discontent of people who feel excluded from the mainstream. This campaign Ron Paul is the insurgent. Congressman Ron Paul from Texas placed fifth in Iowa with ten percent of the vote. But turn on your computer, and you'll find him at the top of the world's most watched video posting site.

STEVE: Congressman Paul. It's nice to meet you. My name's Steve. I'm from YouTube. The news and politics politics center over there. Yeah, welcome. You have quite the following over there.

RON PAUL: I've heard about that.

STEVE: I'm sure you have more subscribers than any other candidate on the platform.

BILL MOYERS: Some seven million viewers at last count had clicked on Ron Paul's You Tube offerings. More viewers then tuned into the first two Republican debates on cable television. Whatever happens now, this libertarian Republican has become a phenomenon in his own right taking on the powers that be in his party to argue against the war in Iraq among other contrarian positions. He stopped in our studio en route from Iowa to New Hampshire. Congressman Paul, Thanks for coming.

BILL MOYERS: You've got quite a following on the YouTube and on the Internet generally. What's your explanation for that and the difference between that and what happened in the primary?

RON PAUL: You know, every time I meet some of the young people who come, you know, and join the campaign, I ask them that question. The answer are generally very similar. And I've been very pleased and very surprised. A lot of them will just say, "Well, you're a strict Constitutionalist. We like your respect for the Constitution." That sort of thing, very encouraging. And others will say, "We like your respect for personal liberties, you know." And even monetary policy. I talk about monetary policy--


RON PAUL: --and they're interested in that. And I think it's very important policy. So, that excites me when I see young people responding to it. But I think they realize the financial condition of this country much better than those who work around Washington they condition themselves to be convinced there's no serious problems.

BILL MOYERS: As you were coming in, I was reading another story on the Internet about Fox News excluding you from the Republican debate this weekend in New Hampshire. What was the rationale they gave you?

RON PAUL: They wouldn't give us one. We kept calling. And matter of fact, even the Fox affiliate in Houston came and interviewed me, and they were interested in the story. And they called, and they couldn't even get an answer. Of course, they were getting a lot of calls from our supporters in Texas wanting to-- why he's excluded. But the affiliate wasn't even told why. They don't tell us what the criteria is. And so it's all speculation. But I think in the long run they're going to be more embarrassed than I will be.

BILL MOYERS: You are in the ABC debate this weekend. Right?

RON PAUL: That is right.

BILL MOYERS: Because you met their benchmarks?

RON PAUL: Well, evidently. But, again, they don't describe them. But I've been in all the debates so far, you know. And we've done rather well, you know. We always do real well in the post-debate polling.

BILL MOYERS: Right. And you and Dennis--

RON PAUL: And even on-- even on Fox.

BILL MOYERS: You and Dennis Kucinich usually are said to be the winners of--


BILL MOYERS: --those debates.

RON PAUL: Yeah. And yet some people, I guess, they don't want to hear our message.

BILL MOYERS: How would you encourage more substantive discussion of ideas by people like you in the mass media that is primarily owned by five or six major companies in America today. And you think that's a free market?

RON PAUL: Well, not really, because the radio waves and the TV waves were never totally free, you know. They're allocated by the government. And then they're licensed by the government. And there's regulations there. So, I see that last week. And I think you could make a case for what you're saying, and I understand what you're saying. But fortunately we have more competition today than ever before. That's what's exciting. All of a sudden, you know, I can get a message out on the Internet.


RON PAUL: And what I fear, and what I talk about a lot is will the government come in and have regulations on what you can say on the Internet like they can have with what you say-- you know, and maybe there's a narrow little group who gets to buy-- all these TV and radio stations, and Clear Channels and thing like that. So, are they going to control it? So, that's why I fear the regulation. I don't want the government in the business of regulating. I don't want them to regulate the Internet, because we've become competitive, just like you've indicated a few minutes ago. We reach a lot of people. We haven't translated that into the conventional polls. We still have a challenge in this campaign. But there's still a wonderful opportunity with the free market in disseminating information.

BILL MOYERS: But it isn't the government that is requiring Fox News to keep you on the air ways. It's not the government making those decisions about who get heard or not. It is these companies with--


BILL MOYERS: --who own, as you say, a lot of the media out there.

RON PAUL: But I think it's still to this philosophy they believe in. They believe in war. And they believe in the military industrial complex. And some of these companies that are mixed in with making profits off war. So, they're not going to have the same attitude about going to war as I might have. But I think that's still a reflection of their philosophy rather than the fact that they're a media company.

BILL MOYERS: You remind me of something you told Tim Russet on MEET THE PRESS-- you talked about fascism. Look at this piece of tape.

RON PAUL (on MEET THE PRESS): Were not moving toward Hitler-type fascism, but we're moving toward a softer fascism. Loss of civil liberties, corporations running the show, big government in bed with big business. So you have the military industrial complex, you have the medical industrial complex, you have the financial industry, you have the communications industry. They go to Washington and spend hundreds of millions of dollars. That's where the control is. I call that a soft form of fascism, something that is very dangerous.

BILL MOYERS: Do you really think that we're heading in that direction?

RON PAUL: Yeah. Now we're living in an age today in this post-9/11 atmosphere where our civil liberties are being undermined constantly. All in the name of safety and security we're supposed to give up our rights for our privacy? We're allowed now to accept the idea of secret prisons and secret renditions, and the lost of habeas corpus. This is very, very dangerous. And I don't want to get to the point where it's hard to reverse. Matter of fact, right now it's getting more difficult everyday to reverse this trend, because the American people seem to so often say, "You know I want to be-- I can't be free, if I'm not safe. So, I want my government to make me safe." And they're willing to give up their liberties. And I'm convinced that you never have to give up liberties to be safe. I think you're less safe when you give up your liberties.

BILL MOYERS: Well, as you speak, I'm curious about how you as a libertarian feel that the winner in Iowa, and a possible leader of your party in the fall in the presidential election is a man who openly identifies himself, defines himself as quote, "A Christian leader." I'm speaking, of course, of Michael Huckabee, who as you know, wears his religion on his sleeve. Talks openly about it. Doesn't proselytize particularly for it. But he is a man who has identified himself as a Christian leader. Does that make you uncomfortable given the fact that most libertarians I know are disturbed about any entanglement between the government and religion?

RON PAUL: Well, it bothers me to a degree. I happen to be a believer. I'm a Christian. And I do write about it. But I specifically say I don't carry my religion on my sleeve. Sometimes I had been annoyed about the prayer breakfast in Washington. I never attended the prayer breakfast in Washington, although I am a believer. I just thought that was more publicity. And, you know, the Bible does teach us that we should say our prayers in a closed room, and not flaunt it, and not to pretend you're holier than-- others. So, I've approached it that way. And I haven't accused anybody of doing that. But when it's overly used, it does annoy me. I mean, the idea of a theocracy very much annoys me. And--

BILL MOYERS: Do you see Michael Huckabee in that direction? You don't--

RON PAUL: He hasn't said anything specifically that I would say we got to defeat Mike Huckabee, because I think he's a theocrat. I haven't said that. But I think that there are a lot of people who may interpret it that way.

BILL MOYERS: And are you nervous?

RON PAUL: I'm nervous about the way the country is going, because they don't understand the First Amendment, you know. Because I'm a strong defender of the First Amendment and then after the Congress shall write no laws, and that's what I think is the most important thing. I sometimes even worry... I don't like the idea that Mitt Romney might lose, you know, because of his religious beliefs. And if you understand the First Amendment, we shouldn't even be asking him what his what his religious belief is. So, I'm sympathetic with that, and I don't like the way he's been treated, or at least subtly behind the scenes and how people might react to that, because with the First Amendment says we're not supposed to dealing in that, and that shouldn't be a litmus test for being elected.

BILL MOYERS: And the Constitution-- you believe in the Constitution, says that there can be no religious test for office. Right? Doesn't some of the things that Mike Huckabee is saying get close to an implied religious test?

RON PAUL: I think that some of the supporters might be doing that. And I think they have a right to know what your religion is. But it doesn't be a test. And I think for some individuals it becomes a test. But I don't think we've quite gotten to the point where we have to make a public statement of what our religious beliefs are, or the rejection of our religious beliefs. I think the most important thing is to make sure they understand the First Amendment.

BILL MOYERS: You're against the war that your party cheered. You're scared of this big debt building up under your party's leadership. You oppose the big spending that President Bush has encouraged on the drug industry, and education. Wall Street thinks you're a crank for your beliefs. Why do you stay in the Republican Party?

RON PAUL: Well I've been elected as a Republican for ten times. And Republicans have a platform, and had a better platform in the past. They expressed these views. Matter of fact, George Bush, if you remember ran on a foreign policy not too far from what I'm talking about. So, it's not like I'm completely a stranger to the Republican ideas of-- you know, they talk about balanced budgets and they're strict Constitutionalists.

And I think the ones who are in charge right now have left the Republican Party and the platform, which makes it more difficult, because people in the party, the hard core base, which unfortunately for the Republicans is getting smaller. But they stick their loyal to the leader. And they're loyal to maintaining power. They're not loyal to a principle or the Constitution and saying doing what is right, you know. They can't reverse their trend, you know. If we're in a bad situation in Iraq, "No. We can't be disloyal." And so they're not objective enough. So-- but I think I can be a good Republican and fight for these ideals, because they have been in the Republican Party in the past. And the question is, is will these ideas be revived once again in the Republican Party? Will people like myself be excluded? There's indeed a lot of people would like to exclude me from the Republican Party. But the party is awful small. Why would they want to exclude is, if we want to work within the Republican Party?

BILL MOYERS: Because it seems hard to reconcile the presence of the libertarian Party. you know, you've got a pretty substantial guerilla army out there of libertarians with a government-- with a party of big business, a party of war, a party of God. That seems hard for someone outside to reconcile.

RON PAUL: Yeah. It is. And yet I imagine you could find some inconsistencies with all the parties. I'm sure some of those that-- you know, the idea that liberal Democrats are supposed to protect our civil liberties and keep us out of war, they don't do a very good job either. So, when you get up on the leadership ladder, it seems like policies aren't a whole lot different.

Foreign policy never changed. Domestic fiscal policy, the welfare entitlement system never changes. Monetary policy won't even be discussed. And that's both parties. And the vehicle that you use I think is not as relevant as the message. And that has been what has driven me is the fact that we need to change course in this country. I highly respect the Constitution. But I'm not even overly rigid about the Constitution. There's a vehicle for changing it. I just I'm not overly rigid don't ignore it. Don't go to war without declaring it. And you know, you listen to the Fourth Amendment. Listen to what it says about the privacy rights of the American people.

BILL MOYERS: How do we get these ideas into the public debate given the tendency of the big media to want to narrow discussion? I mean, they say that in Iowa, in these debates in New Hampshire, they just want to try to get the conversation down so it can be more intimate among the real candidates.

RON PAUL: Yeah. Well, you have to just go where you can. And like I said, there is more competition. We might have Fox, which is tied deeply the war more so than, say, a Wolf Blitzer. Wolf Blitzer gives me a fair shake. He interviews me. And I think he's a very decent journalist. So, I think that we just have to use the tools that we have, and I try no to concentrate on those brick bats that they're throwing at me. I'll just go run and do my best to get a run.

I still think there's enough freedom in this country, even though it's shrinking all the time, where we can get our message out. And I see the young people. I am so enthused about the young people who are excited about these views and what they see on YouTube and the Internet. And they're not coming here because they're asking for student loans. They come to me and they're excited, because I tell them that, you know, "You're not going to get a thing out of Social Security. All you're going to do is pay for 50 years. The whole thing is broke." I say, "I have an idea and a way we can get you out of it. You can take care of yourself once again." And they love these ideas.

BILL MOYERS: You know, it's views like that that cause some people-- I've pulled stories from the Internet, that's what I mean. Some people think some critics think you're a hero to liberals, because you're against the war and you constantly are on the charge against George W. Bush. And they say, you know--

RON PAUL: Okay. But they don't like these views. Not--

BILL MOYERS: No. They don't-- no, they don't. But there's just-- there's some pieces I've been reading on it that accuse you of illiberal sentiments on race, Israel and other topics. They say that you've demeaned black perhaps by some of your references, the Civil War and to slavery. And that you are always attacking the Jewish lobby-- the Israeli lobby--

RON PAUL: Oh, I think that that's completely wrong. And, you know, libertarianism is the enemy of all racism, because racism is a collectivist idea is that you put people in categories. You say, "Well, Blacks belong here, Whites here, and women here." Well, we don't see people in form-- or gays. You don't have rights because you're gays, or women, or minorities. You have rights because you're an individual. So, we see people strictly as individuals. And we get these individuals in a natural way. So, it's exactly opposite of all collectivism. And it's absolutely anti-racism, because we don't see in those terms.

BILL MOYERS: Do you think your views have been misunderstood?

RON PAUL: Oh, I think purposely some people who finally get nervous about what I'm saying. But, you know, it's back to this idea that some liberals will say, "Oh, yeah, we like him on foreign policy, but some of his welfare. We like our welfare." But the point is, is if we don't do something with our financial thing, everybody's going to go broke. I mean, how are we going to keep up with the cost of living increases for the people on retirement when they're losing at a ten percent rate, and they get a two percent increase?

I'm saying cut all this money overseas. Save hundreds of billions of dollars. I'm against throwing anybody out in the street. Take care of the people that are dependent on government. Help them out. But spend this money here at home, but introduce some new ideas, and sound money, and good economic policy where we can allow the next generation to get a foothold and be able to take care of themselves once again. Because today, when you have a dollar crisis and the currency crashes, everybody goes broke.

BILL MOYERS: What is it like trying to get these ideas out in a campaign driven by press that's in love with sound bytes?

RON PAUL: Well, it's difficult. There's no doubt about it, you know.

BILL MOYERS: Is there anything we can do about that?

RON PAUL: Once again, its raising up a new generation that understands what freedom is all about, what the founders were up to when they want a minimal government. What they meant when they didn't want a whole a centralized strong government. These are all things that I believe in, and that individuals... We want government, but we want self government, or local government, or family government. But we don't want the nanny-state to tell us to deal not only with economic matters, but also in the area of virtue. If you think the nanny-state is okay to make the society more fair economically, you use the same force there as you say, well, the conservative comes along, and we say, "Well, we're going to legislate virtue." It's the same issue. And this is what we're trying to put this issue of freedom back together again. It's not two parts of it, economic freedom and personal freedom. There's only one freedom.

BILL MOYERS: THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE has a headline, "Paul, a seller of ideas. They call him Dr. No. No big government. No big spending. No flouting the Constitution. And no interest in the slick political image." And the lead of the story is "No more Department of Education. No more Federal Reserve Bank. No more Medicare, Medicaid. No more membership in the United Nations or NATO. No more federal drug laws. And no more U.S. troops in Iraq or anywhere else on foreign soil." Does that pretty well sum up?

RON PAUL: Yeah. It's a pretty good idea. I have transition programs for everything, because I think the Federal Reserve is a monstrous idea. This whole idea that if your government needs money, and the politicians spend too much, to run wars. Oh, we'll print up the money. I mean, it's a silly idea. But I still, I have a transition program, just like I said about taking care of Social Security recipients, or money. You can - introduce competition. There's a lot of ways we can work our way out of it. Yeah, but that is basically it. So, you can everyone of those "nos" into a "yes." Yes. I'm for freedom. Yes, I am for sound money. Yes, I'm for free markets. And, yes, I'm for sensible foreign policy. I sure am for bringing the troops home, because I am against American empire. I'm for defending the country and having a strong national defense.

BILL MOYERS: You keep coming back to the war. Since the violence in Iraq has diminished, the war has, for all practical purposes, disappeared from the news. What do you make of that?

RON PAUL: They hope that it does. But, you know, isn't it amazing at the end of last year they turned this into almost like another mission accomplished, you know. It was our worst year, you know. If you go by years, it was our worst year. We lost 900 men in Iraq, over 100 in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is blowing up. It's coming unraveled. We're involved in two countries they are trying to nation build. At the same time, it looks like we'll be in Pakistan. So, this whole idea that there's some type of victory going on over there, and it's a disaster.

And they would like us to not talk about it anymore. But we cannot hide from it, because it's tied into the finances. All great countries end when they extend themselves too far overseas. And the litmus test is what do they do to their currency? We did not have to fight the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union because of economic reasons. That is what's going to happen here. We willfully invaded. You know how many weapons we have. We have more weapons, probably twice as many as everybody else put together. Nobody would dare touch us. And yet everybody's frightened. "Oh, who's going to attack us? And who's going to deliver us?" But it's the financial thing that will finally bring us to our knees.

BILL MOYERS: Has our two party system run it's course?

RON PAUL: Well, it's meaningless. And I think you know, we send boys over there to promote democracy in Iraq. But we don't really have democracy here because, you know, if you're in a third party-- if you're in the Green Party, or Libertarian Party, you don't get any credibility. You can't get on debates. You can't get on the ballots hardly at all. And it's very, very difficult. And the two parties are the same. You don't really have a democratic choice here. So yes, I think we have a long way to go to set good standards here.

This is my whole argument. I think there's a lot of goodness in America. And we should spread our goodness. But never through force. We should be talking about what we can do here at home to set a good example, have a healthy, vibrant economy. Protect civil liberty. And have a foreign policy where we're minding our own business. But have trade with people, and talk with people. Why is it we don't even talk and trade with Cuba? Everyone else is. I mean, why don't we do it? And this is what we have to do.

BILL MOYERS: But are you ever going to get ideas like that through a media that is dominated by the very corporate mentality that you so often deplore?

RON PAUL: With difficulty. But once again the message is getting out. It hasn't turned into, you know, a total revolution. But there are revolutionary ideas going on there right now. And it's not a throwback to the old ways, because the old ways are always tyranny. We've had tyranny most of all of history. It's only been in this recent introduction, last couple of hundred years, where true freedom emphasizing the individual has only been tested. And we're throwing it away. So, whether I have an obstacle with the media or not, which I'm sure I do. And I face up to it, since I look like I'll be excluded, you know, from the Fox debate here-- this weekend. But nevertheless, the amount of things we left in this country, we still have it, and we have to maximize it's use.

BILL MOYERS: Thank you for being with us Congressman Paul.

RON PAUL: Thank you very much.

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