I rise today to pay tribute to my friend, Ron Paul. I have now served in Congress for 24 years, the last 16 of which I have served with Congressman Paul.
During all of that time, I have never once seen him waver or stray from a commitment to liberty and freedom and his promise to uphold and defend our Constitution.
I can assure you that no one runs for office wanting to make people mad. In fact, it may be that people who run for office have a stronger desire to be liked than most people.
Thus, I feel certain that at times it has been hurtful to Congressman Paul to be the only member out of 435 to vote no on some popular bill or seemingly harmless resolution. Yet, on many occasions, he has been the only vote on some issue.
Yet, because of his courage and sincerity and his steadfast belief in free enterprise, private property, and individual freedom, he has earned the respect and admiration of almost everyone with whom he has served, on both sides of the aisle.
When there was tremendous pressure, especially on the Republican side, to vote to go to war in Iraq, only six Republicans voted no. Three of those were very liberal Republicans, and three were very conservative. The three conservative no votes came from John Hostettler of Indiana, Congressman Paul, and myself.
It is probably accurate to say that during the 16 years Congressman Paul and I have served together, no two members have voted more alike than we have.
Most of the time we have arrived at our decisions separately and independently. But we also have discussed many votes over the years, and I have attended most of the meetings of the Liberty Caucus Congressman Paul has hosted in his office with a wide variety of speakers.
One national conservative magazine about four years ago gave just three members 100% ratings on a freedom index – Congressman Paul, Congressman Jeff Flake of Arizona, and myself.
Last year the National Taxpayers Union ranked me as the most fiscally conservative member on all 338 spending votes, but the only reason Congressman Paul was not first was because he missed many votes during his run for the White House.
There have been articles and comments and questions about who would be the next Ron Paul in Congress. But really, no one can replace Ron Paul or fill his shoes or be the next Ron Paul.
He has achieved a fame and a following and a position of influence that is almost miraculous considering his unique independence.
He is such a kind, humble, almost bashful person that I know he has been amazed by the numbers that have turned out to support him and especially the following he has among the young people.
After all, there is nothing cool or hip about him, but several million college students and twenty-somethings love the man.
I think his appeal lies in his principled stands on the issues, the concern young people have for their future and where this Country is headed, and the fact that Congressman Paul is real.
There is nothing fake about him. He believes what he says and says what he believes and then sticks by it even when it is not “politically correct.”
Financial columnist Charles Goyette probably summed up Congressman Paul’s time in office best in a column a few days ago. He wrote:
“Politics has ways of bending such lesser men, and molding even the well-intentioned to become servants of the state.”
“The tools are many: Congressional leadership bribes and bestows its favors from plum committee assignments to nicer Capitol offices. …The parties reward the lockstep-marchers, too. For those who stay in step, there are endorsements and campaign funds. Meanwhile, for those who march to a different drummer,” well.
“And then there is the simple social pressure to which men whose eyes are not focused on a polestar of principle soon succumb. The description you’ve heard of Washington, that you have to go along to get along, is all too true.”
Mr. Goyette concluded by writing that, “Ron Paul never succumbed. He never sold out for a better assignment, a nicer office, lobbyist largesse, or shallow conviviality.”
Finally, Mr. Speaker, I think words written in a 1930 novel called The Lions Den, fit Congressman Ron Paul. The words described a fictional Congressman named Zimmer.
The Author, Janet Fairbank wrote:
“No matter how the espousal of a lost cause might hurt his prestige in the House Zimmer had never hesitated to identify himself with it if it seemed to him to be right. He knew only two ways; the right one and the wrong, and if he sometimes made a mistake, it was never one of honor. He voted as he believed he should, and although sometimes his voice was raised alone on one side of a question, it was never stilled.”