Our Guide to the Best Coverage of Ron Paul and His Record
by Lois Beckett
ProPublica, Aug. 23, 2011, 2:19 p.m.
This is the second installment in a series of reading guides on 2012 presidential candidates. Our first one was one Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul is consistently disregarded by the media, a point made recently by comedian Jon Stewart and confirmed by a Pew Research Center analysis of news coverage.
But the 76-year-old Texas Republican congressman's tiny-government ideals have become increasingly relevant to the national debate. And despite some eye-rolling by television anchors, there's been plenty of substantive coverage of Paul's ideals and track record. Here's our guide to some of the best reading on Ron Paul.
The best place to start is a 2001 Texas Monthly profile by Sam Gwynne, who explains why Paul remained such a viable Republican congressional candidate despite his refusal to toe the party line.
Paul, an obstetrician who has delivered an estimated 4,000 babies, is a pro-life Libertarian who believes that much of the federal government is unconstitutional. (His son, Kentucky Republican Rand Paul, is a U.S. senator and Tea Party favorite.)
Ron Paul's 2012 campaign website summarizes his policy views, which include abolishing the Federal Reserve and the IRS, eliminating income and capital-gains taxes and refusing to raise the debt ceiling.
On principle, Paul supports ending federal bans on marijuana, heroin, cocaine and prostitution, although he says he’s never used marijuana himself, and is so conservative in his personal life that he does not travel alone with women. He says on his website that he avoids discussing his Christian faith publicly because he wants “to avoid any appearance of exploiting it for political gain.”
As a doctor, he would not accept Medicaid or Medicare funds, reportedly treating patients for free instead. (He has argued that Medicare and Medicaid are unconstitutional.) He does not believe members of Congress should receive pensions, so he has opted out of receiving his own.
As an Atlantic profile explains, Paul’s views are defined by his affinity to Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, who opposed central banking and argued that most problems with the economy result from government interference. Paul believes that the United States should return to the gold standard, and describes Aug. 15, 1971, when President Nixon ordered that U.S. dollars no longer be backed by gold, as a watershed moment that inspired him to begin his career in politics.
Overview of his record as a congressman:
The Texas Monthly profile explores the tension between Paul’s principled approach to politics and his ability to get things done in Washington. He earned the nickname “Dr. No” for his tendency to vote against bills with wide Republican or bipartisan support. He voted against the USA Patriot Act and the federal ban on same-sex marriage—and also against congressional gold medals for Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks and Mother Teresa. (“It’s easier to be generous with other people’s money,” he noted at the time, and suggested that if his fellow legislators wanted to award medals, they should contribute $100 each.)
You can see the highlights of his congressional voting record on his Washington Post profile page, or look through the full list of his votes at GovTrack.us.