From Everyday Republican to Educated Constitutionalist - One Man's Journey

I often refer to the tea party movement as an "Awakening". If you would have asked me on February 27, 2009 what the 17th Amendment is and how has it affected the relationship between the states and the federal government, I wouldn't have been able to tell you.   But since that time, as we have faced issue after issue, We The People have learned so much. For more on this perspective, please visit my blog post at Harper Collins' eBook division, Broadside Book's, as they feature "Voices of the Tea Party".

From the blog post, I write:

Did we rise up because we knew what James Madison wrote about federalism in The Federalist Papers? Or because we understood the purpose of the legal system from Bastiat’s The Law? No — but like me, the American electorate arose from its slumber because, simply put, we knew something was wrong. Policies enacted in the Bush administration that continued with Obama’s approach to governing were contrary to the kind of common sense on which America was built.

Since the tea party movement began, however, many leaders and members have sought to quench a thirst for greater knowledge of American History, for understanding our founders’ original intent, and for an overall study of the proper role of government.

In a recent post on Facebook, I shared a link of an interview with Congressman Ron Paul where he talked about the Federal Reserve, how their policies are affecting the value of the dollar which is affecting gas prices and food among other things.

My comment was "Is it me, or is this guy sounding more and more "on the money"?? (pun intended). Yes, I know what your answer will be."

The answer I was expecting was that Ron Paul isn't sounding more on the money because he is changing and therefore finally having a correct view of the world. In fact, I was anticipating someone saying that I am the one changing in that I'm finally learning what he's talking about and understanding how correct his views have always been.

During the comment thread that ensued, a local liberty-minded friend-of-the-movement chimed in and shared his story, his journey, if you will, from an "everyday Republican" to an "educated constitutionalists". I find his journey fascinating, one on which we all find ourselves. Matt White, however, simply took the appropriate steps much earlier than most of us and added an element of initiative from which we all could learn.

Matt White: At one time I thought Ron Paul was bat crap crazy. I was firmly supporting Romney in '08. I was in the home building industry and saw what was coming. I knew the economy would be the #1 issue by that November and it was. Ho...wever, in my support of Romney, it was little more than he was a Republican and he was a businessman. That was it. I honestly hadn't read the Constitution or other founding documents. I hadn't truly studied history. My understanding of American politics was lacking. I looked past Romneycare and his other positions.

I knew something was wrong on a broad scale, but I didn't know what. The first time I saw Paul in the debates, I would think, you know he has some really good things to say, but he's crazy on the wars or some other issue. I really didn't take him seriously, then I saw this in the debates:

At first I laughed with everyone else, but as he answered the question I listened. His response made me second guess everything I thought. I thought maybe there is more to the Republican party than I realized. Maybe I was just furthering the talking points of the day without knowing what I was talking about. Still, we had to beat Obama, because he was going to 'bring socialism to America' (I was very naive as I later learned that Socialism came to America in the late 1800's and has been implemented since the early-mid 1900's. A socialist, Francis Bellamy wrote our Pledge of Allegiance). I went on to vote for Romney in the primaries and McCain in the general.

As time passed after the election, I continued to hear different people talk about the financial meltdown. I watched as things fell apart and people like Ron Paul and Peter Schiff (who I saw on Glenn Beck pretty often) were the very few who got it right. So I began to read up on free market economics and their sources such as "economics in one lesson", by Hazlitt and "The Law", by Frederic Bastiat. I realized there was a lot my finance degree didn't cover. Especially the Federal Reserve, capital creation and business cycle theories. I then went back and started watching some videos of Paul talking about the Constitution. More things started to make sense, but I didn't really know it for myself so I couldn't be sure.

I recognized that I ran around championing the Constitution and founding fathers, but had no idea what any of it meant, because I had never read the Constitution or even Declaration of Independence. Since then, I've read and read some more. I've studied the Constitution, federalist papers, anti-federalist papers (currently), the declaration of independence, John Locke, Montesquieu, letters from our founders and other writings from that period to get a better understanding of it all. I've studied free market economics, history and our founding philosophy. It has all lead me to the conclusion that Ron Paul is one of the very few that actually echo our founding principles from economics, to domestic and foreign policy. He is the closest thing to Jefferson in American politics.

I continue to learn more, but I've read the founders' own words enough to know that most Americans today would reject those like Jefferson, Madison, Mason, Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry. They were radicals in their day and now in ours. That is why many reject Ron Paul.

“Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged against provisions against danger, real or pretended from abroad.” – James Madison, Letter to Thomas Jefferson, 1798

”Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” – James Madison, “Political Observations” 1795

“I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.” – Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Archibald Stuart, Philadelphia, December 23, 1791

“An honest man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of power over his fellow citizens… Power is not alluring to pure minds and is not with them the primary principle of contest.” – Thomas Jefferson to John Melish, 1813

“On similar ground it may be proved that no society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation. They may manage it then, and what proceeds from it, as they please, during their usufruct. They are masters too of their own persons, and consequently may govern them as they please. But persons and property make the sum of the objects of government. The constitution and the laws of their predecessors extinguished them, in their natural course, with those whose will gave them being. This could preserve that being till it ceased to be itself, and no longer. Every constitution, then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of 19. years. If it be enforced longer, it is an act of force and not of right.” – Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, Sept 6 1789

“The error seems not sufficiently eradicated that the operations of the mind as well as the acts of the body are subject to the coercion of the laws. But our rulers can have authority over such natural rights only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to our God. The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” – Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia Q.XVII, 1782

I'd like to make a very clear point. My post here today is not an endorsement of Ron Paul for President in 2012. That's not my purpose. My point is simply that I want to encourage everyone to listen to him. Yes, there's still a debate out there as to his approach to earmarks, yes some folks still have a problem with legalizing drugs, yes there are questions as to what affects an isolationist (er...sorry, a non-interventionist) foreign policy would have in the immediate future....but he has always supported individual liberty, strict adherence to the constitution and can teach each and every single one of us something about the Federal Reserve and how they've affected our economy.

On Wednesday, April 17th, 2011, when most people were focusing on Obama's Certification of Live Birth and on the tornado's in the midwest (which were Bush's fault, by the way), Ron Paul was doing his best to bring us back to focus on the fact that the Federal Reserve was having their first ever, in their 97 year history, press conference.

The video below if from Glenn Beck's Insider Extreme broadcast of his radio show with guest Ron Paul.

What Congressman Ron Paul will bring to the 2012 campaign season is a level of debate and discussion from which I hope many will learn. Let's not be so quick to react and reject even listening to him because of perceptions of year's past fed to us by establishment Republicans. In the tea party movement, at the end of the day, we seek the truth. And in this great "Awakening", our responsibility is to just do the next right thing.

Bottom line: Each of us must seek the truth, don't be so quick to judge, we must educate ourselves on the constitution, what Liberty really means and what the proper role of government is, and let's drive the 2012 debate and learn from it.