Five and a half years ago, throughout the state of Minnesota, something peculiar happened. Introverts and other nerds started crawling out of their parents’ basements to voluntarily make contact with unknown life forms, life forms who were luckily also introverts and a little nerdy. People who had never known each other started to talk, eventually started to meet. No, not just on forums and facebook, but in real, live person.
The Zombie Apocalypse, you ask? Even, better. The word in the underground was that a most unusual man was to run for President. But, wait! These people hated politics. A lot. The lying, the empty promises, the ever-encroaching government, distinctions without any difference, always two sides of the same coin.
So when word started circulating that a politician who dared to talk about forbidden topics such as the Federal Reserve and our inability to afford unconstitutional wars and, above all, had consistently upheld his oath to the Constitution, was going to run for the highest office, tens of thousands of people who had previously checked out of politics in disgust sat up and took notice.
Those early headwaters formed the streams and tributaries that formed the river, and when it all came together, we saw some modest political success in MN in 2008. But 2008 was not the end point. That message flowed stronger, farther and wider each year.
We used to joke about how we needed to clone Ron Paul. We don’t joke about it anymore. We’ve done it. Where there was one man carrying the message alone, there are now many thousands, perhaps millions of us working together to spread the message that we live better when we live free. So where did these thousands and thousands of clones come from?
No, not all from their parents’ basements. Someone, somewhere told each of them the truth, patiently and in small doses, and opened their eyes.
We will be hearing a lot this week about “our nation’s leaders.”
What are leaders? Our leaders are not in Congress or state legislatures. Congressmen and Legislators are followers. They are representatives. They change their views to fit that of the population. Most of them.
The leaders are in urban neighborhoods, suburbs, rural townships. They are the ones discussing ideas with their co-workers, family and neighbors.
Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that, when an idea is held by less than 10% of society, its growth is slow and difficult, but when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society. The leaders, in their neighborhoods, are those that get us that 10%.
We have been seeing the changes. You’ve seen them in many ways locally. We’ve seen the issue of the Federal Reserve quickly go from zero to 10%, then tip into overwhelming disapproval of that secretive body in the last few years.
We even saw the changes this week at the RNC. While we were beat with the political stick in the Rules and Credentials Committees, there was acceptance of some of Ron Paul’s ideas on the Platform Committee, from sound monetary policy to a more secure, more humble foreign policy. The IDEAS are succeeding. And, of course, there were still some areas like indefinite detention where we need to do more educating.
Our goal is not political power. Our goal is to live free, because we know that means we live better. Politics is something we do defensively, out of necessity. When political power becomes the goal, we have lost the mission.
In this movement, everyone has a different taste for their level of political involvement. For some that level is zero. I understand. Some in our movement believe we need to take over the party. I understand that too. Some people think if we control the system, we can use it to our benefit.
Government power is like Tolkien’s One Ring that controls them all. Some Republicans think we can use power only for good. We know better. We know power corrupts. Our goal is not to win elections so we can impose on people our version of what is good. Our goal is to throw the One Ring into the fire of the constitution.
To even attain that goal, we must do as Ron Paul has sought to do and as he’s taught us. We must change the hearts and minds of the population, of our neighbors. The political end will follow. If we focus only on the politics and try to force that system to fit our paradigm, but if the people are not ready, we will be disappointed. However, as we work to change the hearts and minds of our neighbors, the politics will happen.
In Minnesota, where this year we won 80% of the national delegates to the RNC, we weren’t successful because we fired up the campaign last summer and worked hard. That too. We were successful because we came together five years ago, networked, organized, began sharing the message of liberty with neighbors and co-workers, adding them to our networks, and have been working together ever since.
Were we working together on politics all this time? Not particularly. Some. We were also getting together for Austrian meetups – my friend Nik Ludwig is a fantastic Austrian evangelist and is now working on getting these meetups going all over the state. We were setting up ham radio clubs. We were buying and splitting sides of steer and bison. Drinking raw milk off our friends’ farms. We were helping each other with our businesses. If we weren’t networking in person, we were networking on Facebook. Because the overriding thing we had in common was that we wanted to live free. As Ron Paul says, freedom brings people together.
To continue the impressive progress of this movement, we practice living free, we network in our communities.
We trade with each other. We work to be physically and mentally fit so that we are self-sufficient. We self-employ. Maybe we home school, but we teach our children to be self-sufficient and to live free.
We may run for our city council or township board, not to exercise political power, but to recapture liberty for ourselves and our neighbors. As candidates, we may campaign door to door on the merits of working things out as neighbors, relying on ourselves and each other instead of asking government to step in, because that makes us a stronger, safer community when we rely on each other. We teach as we campaign.
And we have encouraged liberty people in MN to run for local offices. Not to exercise political power, but to take back local and personal liberty. There may be only one inimitable Ron Paul, but some of these candidates might turn out to be reasonable facsimiles. Some won’t. Some will get a high off the power and climb the ladder for its own sake. But some will stay humble and keep in their sights that the goal is to live free.
Each of us needs to always keep the principles of liberty in mind when supporting candidates. This movement is not about winning a single election. Regardless of who that person is, if they’re going in the wrong direction, we must never be afraid to call them out or even, if they continually fail to heed, drop our support. Some would call that being disloyal, but when a candidate is disloyal to our fundamental principles, we must first remain loyal to the principles. Stay awake.
Ron Paul labored tirelessly for decades in obscurity, never wavering. He may not have foreseen the fruits of that dedication bringing us to that 10% tipping point, but we are just about there. There was no shortcut. Without that drudgery, he wouldn’t have earned the respect we have for him.
So stay true, stick together, stand strong for your principles. Share them at every opportunity, because YOU are a leader. Don’t settle. Live better. Live free.