Ron Paul may have retired from the House of Representatives, but he’s hardly stepped out the public eye. The three-time presidential wannabe has recently inserted himself into the NSA-Edward Snowden debate as a vocal opponent of the surveillance program and even launched his own Internet news channel.
“Seeking the truth is a beautiful thing, but it becomes more and more difficult to filter through the lies perpetuated by the U.S. Government, crony corporations and mainstream media,” Paul said in a promo video for his upcoming AMA. “This is my chance to hear from people who share many of my values: ending the senseless war on drugs, fighting for personal freedom, opposing the police and surveillance state, exposing government and corporate collusion, and getting america to stop making war on the world.”
Paul already had pages of questions waiting for him when he signed onto Thursday's "ask me anything," or AMA, session a few minutes. Check out some of the most interesting below.
How do you think Bradley Manning's trial should have been handled?
He should have been punished because he confessed to breaking the law and he did practice Civil Disobedience. So he deserves some punishment, but he has already received (in my estimation) excessive amounts of punishment. He has been in prison for over 3 years as well as tortured, and most military personnel who are caught committing war crimes never receive any penalties. I think he should be released now, that he has done us a great service by letting the people know the truth, he's a whistleblower in my estimation (even the courts did not charge him with aiding the enemy), and I believe his goal was to inform the American people of the truth about what was happening in the Iraq / Afghanistan Wars.
Congressman Paul, why did you vote YES on an amendment, which would have banned adoption by same-sex couples and other couples who lacked a marital or familial relationship in Washington, D.C.? Do you still oppose adoption by gay couples?
Well I don't recall that particular vote but my position on it is that the government should be out of it. Sort of like the marriage issues, and adoption issues, I do not like the idea of any government writing prohibitions in these areas. I may have personal preferences and all, but it should be handled through contracts rather than government prohibitions. I was involved with adoptions when I was doing medicine, and it was always a voluntary contract - we would find a family who would take a baby and the mother would sign a voluntary contract, and it got more complicated with more legislation.
What can I go about doing to change away from the destructive two-party system that currently dominates politics?
I think the first thing that we have to do is recognize that we don't have a two party system. I sort of kid about this by saying that we have a one party system, and someday I'm hoping for a second party! Because my experience in Washington has showed me that the 2 parties are much more closely aligned than the people realize. Both of them support our foreign policy of wars overseas (which is wrong), both parties support the Federal Reserve System and the banking cartel, both parties have endlessly supported deficit financing, and both parties unfortunately have supported the attacks on our personal civil liberties. Now the problem is, if we don't have a process whereby you disagree with the two parties, you don't have anyplace to go because it is very difficult to get on the ballot, it's difficult to get in the debates unless you participate in the "so-called" two-party system we have today, and ultimately the changes come about not by tinkering with either political party - it only comes through education and getting people to understand the wisdom of non-intervention in foreign policy, non-intervention in personal liberties, and non-intervention in the economy.
If you could reverse one decision Obama made in office, which would it be and why?
Taking his oath of office! No, I don't have any one because I believe he is just continuing a process that has been going on for a hundred years of government ever-growing. So there is no one thing that he has done other than (in a very general sense) continue the process. Continue the wars, continue the attack on our liberties - so it has to be a broad answer. Sometimes people would like me to say just one thing like "Obamacare" but it's not just one thing. It's the continuation of Big Government and the attacks on our personal liberties.
While you were a congressman, you voted against an amendment that would have solidified net neutrality into law. As you would expect, many people on this website would be in favor of such a measure, so can you explain why you ultimately decided to vote against this?
Well, it's a complex issue, but I saw that legislation as an intrusion and controlling the internet - and that's been my promise to do anything and everything to keep the government out of doing ANYTHING with the internet, and not giving any one group or any one person an advantage on the internet. But I will admit it was a complex issue.
[From The Daily Beast's own Brian Ries] Hi Ron Paul your name is an anagram for "Our Plan." What's that mean? Who are you? Did we create you? Please explain.
Well, I hope OUR PLAN is a good plan and the plan that I describe is that of defending individual liberty and limited government - so I think that's a good plan!
Do you have any plans for running for Presidency of the United States of America in 2016?
No I do not. I do not have any plans like that. I am going to pursue what I have been doing since the 1970s which is to promote the cause of liberty - the format and the technique will be different. But I have done the same thing for many years, but I have no plans to run for office at this time. (and I'd like to add that I will continue to build the Ron Paul Channel http://www.ronpaulchannel.com)
My question is with Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning exposing government abuses, and subsequently being hunted - and prosecuted in Manning's case - what do you think needs to be done to protect whistle blowers?
Well they obviously ought to be protected and politicians pay lip service to that and pass laws to protect whistleblowers - but then they disobey the law, disobey the Constitution, and arrest people who actually reveal the truth. The only way that it can work is that the people themselves have to want the truth and tolerate the truth and understand that whistleblowers are trying to help us and not believe the propaganda of those who are trying to defend the Empire.
There's a saying that I use quite often - "Truth becomes Treason in an Empire of lies." It's a change in attitude where people don't want to live in an empire, or with a government that is abusing our rights or pretending to police the world and doing all these wonderful things. So we should do everything we can to protect the whistleblowers, but we need better people in government to achieve that.
We have seen the expansion of libertarianism over the past several years. How much of it do you think is enabled by the internet, and what are your thoughts on the recent, repeated attempts to limit the freedom of the net and our right to privacy?
Well that's a great threat - the attack on the internet - because the internet is our best vehicle. It has been the best thing for us to have to spread our message. So it has been VERY instrumental in being able to get the message of libertarianism out. The other thing that has helped us with this message is the evident failure now of our Keynesian economic system which we've had now for close to 100 years, and also the obvious evidence that our foreign policy is a complete failure and people are looking for answers, especially the young people, because they see it deeply flawed.