Libertarian icon Ron Paul brings his ‘revolution’ to Starkville

Published 2:06 pm Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Libertarian-leaning U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, is bringing his “revolution” to the campus of Mississippi State University today in an event organized by a group called “Young Americans for Liberty at MSU.” The event will culminate in a 7 p.m. speech in the Lee Hall Bettersworth Auditorium.

Early in the day, Paul will hold a book signing, hold a press conference and participate in a private $100 per person reception in the Colvard Student Union. Reserved seats for the speech are being offered at $30 a throw. Additional information is available at

Students in the Young American for Liberty group have been using social media and passing out cards on campus to promote the event. The last card this writer was handed posed the question “Who is Ron Paul?” and then answered it with this description: “Ron Paul has never voted to raise taxes, never voted for a unbalanced budget, votes against regulation of the Internet, votes against the welfare state, voted against the Iraq War, votes to end the war on drugs, voters to protect civil liberties, and maintains a non-interventionist foreign policy.”

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Paul was a Republican presidential contender in 2008, raising $28.1 million and finishing fourth behind nominee U.S. Sen. John McCain, former Ark. Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney for the GOP nomination. Paul, based in the Houston-area small city of Lake Jackson in Brazoria County, is said to be “close” to making a formal entry into the 2012 presidential race according to a recent CBS report.

In February, Paul was a featured speaker at the Tea Party Patriots American Policy Summit in Phoenix — where he won the presidential straw poll — and is a favorite of many affiliated with both the Tea Party and the Libertarian movements.

Paul has served in Congress continuously since 1997 and a total of seven years prior to that beginning in 1976. He was affiliated formerly with the Libertarian Party in the 1988 presidential election. He is the father of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. The elder Paul ran third on the 1988 presidential general election ballot behind eventual winner Republican President George H.W. Bush and Democratic nominee Mass. Gov. Michael Dukakis. Paul took 432,179 votes in the race or a half a percent.

Paul is a Duke University-educated physician who specialized in obstetrics and gynecology and is a former flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force flight and U.S. Air National Guard.

Over the course of his career in politics, Paul has authored bills seeking to abolish both the income tax and the Federal Reserve and to repeal the 1973 War Powers Resolution. Another fact about the maverick physician is that one scoring method published in the American Journal of Political Science found Paul to have been the most conservative of all 3,320 members of Congress from 1937 to 2002.

There’s a political niche in the country that Paul fills quite nicely for non-mainstream Republicans, or at least conservatives who are disenchanted with Republicans who frequently work across the political aisle with Democrats to reach consensus on the major issues confronting Congress. The most recent federal budget deal was one of those issues.

Although Paul would fail one of the tests of the most ardent of Tea Party conservatives — he’s against federal spending but never turned his head from earmarking spending for his home district — it’s no accident that he won the Tea Party straw poll at the national issues summit in Phoenix.

Mississippi remains for the most part fly-over country for presidential contenders. But conservative presidential contenders and particularly those angling for Tea Party support will have to do well in rural America. Starkville is one of a growing number of Mississippi communities with active Tea Party delegations. Paul’s appearance in smaller venues like Starkville starts to make sense at that point.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at 662-325-2506 or