Little things are different for former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, now that his name no longer hangs outside a Capitol Hill office door. He wears ties less often. He writes his own posts on “the Facebook.” He had time to plant tomatoes at his Texas home last weekend. But his role as a libertarian political hero hasn’t really changed since he retired from Congress in January: the outsider status he spent decades cultivating from within Washington is simply official.
He is still anxious to weigh in on the issues of the day. The sequester “is a farce.” Secretary of State John Kerry is “stirring up more war.” And he maintains his distinctive obsessions. In just the first five minutes of a speech to George Washington University students on Monday, Paul struck his favorite themes: individual liberty, the gold standard, the Federal Reserve, the wealth gap, inflation and the future of the Republican Party. He even declared that “We’re all Austrians now!” (a reference to his economic messiah, Ludwig von Mises). The speech could have been pulled directly from his 2008 or 2012 presidential campaign bids. Except now Paul is working purely to change minds, not win votes.
And that’s a kind of liberation. Speaking to TIME, Paul says that he doesn’t miss the Washington job he had, on and off, for nearly a quarter century. He just carries on with his longtime message of personal and economic freedom. “My focus has always been about the same,” he says. “I just look for different vehicles.” His vehicles used to be hearings and speeches aired on C-SPAN. These days, his vehicles include his non-profit group and lobbying arm Campaign for Liberty; a weekly online column called “Texas Straight Talk;” an upcoming one-minute radio program dubbed “Ron Paul’s America;” a book he’s writing on home-schooling; and, of course, speaking engagements. After GWU, he’s heading to Canada and New York where he will continue to spin what he calls the “broken record.”