Hello, Casey! This is Ani from the Ron Paul for President campaign,” the voice on the other end of the line warmly greeted me as my heart began beating uncontrollably. “Ron is coming to San Francisco next Thursday, and we were wondering if you would be interested in arranging an event at Berkeley. What do you think?” I could have dropped the phone in disbelief right then and there.
It was Wednesday, March 28, and my mind was in an academic haze. Being hopelessly behind on my senior thesis, I dedicated my entire spring break to hiding from the world in intellectual seclusion. Or at least that was the plan. After this phone call penetrated the dark walls of my monklike apartment, I completely cleared my schedule to bring the presidential candidate to UC Berkeley. Sorry, senior thesis, John Locke would have to wait for Ron Paul.
“Absolutely,” I nervously replied with all the confidence I could muster. But, in my mind, I was insecure as all hell. How in the world was I supposed to scramble a respectable event for a major public figure over spring break? What ensued over the next week were nonstop emails, phone calls and appointments with every university administrator imaginable to ensure the smooth execution of this exciting event. I contacted the ASUC, UCPD, CLL, CSL, EHS, ETS, PPS, ABC and XYZ! To my pleasant surprise, the administration was enthused at the idea of the event and flexible with my short timeline — save for a few fickle bureaucrats in Doe Library.
Thanks to the admiration’s understanding and the campaign’s hard work, I was able to introduce one of my heroes to a crowd of thousands of Berkeley students and citizens at Memorial Glade on Thursday. UC Berkeley, the famous (or infamous) bastion of liberalism, had opened its heart to perhaps the strongest proponent of limited government in Congress today. How in the world could this have happened?
I’ve been asked this question many times over the past few days. As much as I would love to say that our student body has woken up to the woes of big government, it would be blatantly false. Cal students are largely liberal and disagree with Paul’s politics. I was reminded of this fact when a sneering stranger approached me inside Doe Library before the event asking if I was responsible for all the “crazy people” screaming on the steps outside. Yes, I was, and I’m proud of it!
But, at the same time, it is seems undeniable that the campus is more receptive to Paul’s libertarian message than ever before. After all, it’s hard to imagine such a free marketeer coming to Cal in the heyday of the hippyism — back when Ronald Reagan famously characterized our school as “a haven for communist sympathizers, protesters and sex deviants.” So, what happened?
I would say that our student body and our generation at large have become aware of the cyclical nature of American politics. Young adults today developed their political consciousness growing up under the presidency of George W. Bush — an administration marred by endless wars abroad, bailouts to big business and intrusions upon our civil liberties.
But, even after Brazilian waxing our country’s Bush in 2008 and starting afresh with Barack Obama, we’re still left with the same outcome. More military intervention abroad in Libya, Pakistan and Yemen. More bailouts to big business in the hundreds of billions. More intrusions upon our civil liberties through imprisoning and assassinating American citizens without due process. Any American with their head screwed on right has seen that these policies have been destructive under the tyrannical bipartisan class ruling our country.
Then there’s Ron Paul. Certainly he’s not the most charismatic politician in the world, but that’s precisely his charm. He comes off as frank and genuine and his rock solid voting record in Congress only attests to this fact. Paul has consistently stood up against our government’s intrusions upon the lives of innocent civilians abroad, destructive meddling in our economy and illiberal attitudes towards civil liberties waged by both parties.
These are the common sense policies of individual liberty that both parties must embrace to remain relevant as our generation grows older. Republicans must realize that social engineering with marriage, drug policy and religion is ineffective and only increases intolerance. Democrats must realize that growing the welfare state is unsustainable and historically has only run up our massive debt. Our generation is beginning to realize these truths and we’ll soon be taking our newfound knowledge to the voting booth.
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that bailouts under the Obama administration have totaled in the hundreds of trillions of dollars. In fact, they have totaled in the hundreds of billions of dollars.