Longtime congressman and two-time Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul turns 79 years young today. Since announcing his bid for the White House in March 2007, Paul has become a household name in the liberty movement and has inspired countless numbers of individuals, particularly students, to believe in the cause of liberty.
Paul’s own belief in liberty came at an early age. The son of dairy farmers, Paul was born in 1935 at the height of the Great Depression. The big-government ideals of Franklin Delano Roosevelt were prominent, with Social Security introduced only a week before his birth. Yet Ron Paul ignored the overreach from Washington and instead learned the values of hard work from his family dairy business. He inspected the glass bottles before they were filled, earning one penny for each dirty bottle he spotted. In addition, he delivered the Pittsburgh Press, mowed lawns, and worked at the drug store. He shared a bedroom with five brothers and his family lived frugally despite their hard work.
Ron Paul carried this hardworking, independent spirit throughout his life. He graduated from Duke University Medical Center and delivered over 4,000 babies in his tenure as an obstetrician. He then shifted his focus to Congress, winning his first term as a Congressman in 1976. He spent the next few decades alternating between working in Washington and delivering babies. He served a total of 12 terms as a U.S. Congressman, retiring in January 2013. Despite his retirement, he has kept his work for liberty alive with Campaign for Liberty, the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, and Voices of Liberty.
Dr. Paul has fundamentally changed the way millions of people perceive the role of government and markets in everyday life, and I’m no different. I first heard about Ron Paul when he formed an exploratory committee for the Presidency in January 2007 and began having television appearances. Like so many others, I was intrigued by how he elicited a much different perspective on issues than any other Presidential candidate within either major party. I wasn’t old enough to vote at the time as I turned 18 the month after the 2008 election, but I still watched the GOP Presidential debates and eagerly awaited his few-and-far-between moments in the spotlight.
Shortly after the 2008 election, I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. Paul at an End the Fed rally in Houston, TX. The rally took place in a park across from the Federal Reserve branch and had several hundred in attendance. After Dr. Paul spoke, a line formed to meet him and I took this picture with him, immortalizing the long hair I had from high school in a photo with someone who had influenced me more than anyone who wasn’t a parent or schoolteacher.
Since then, I have continued my efforts for liberty, founding a chapter of Young Americans for Liberty on my campus and attending several SFL conferences while studying in college. Just over a year following my graduation, I’ve begun writing articles like this one for SFL. None of this would have happened if it weren’t for Ron Paul, and who knows what my and many other libertarians’ political views would look like had Dr. Paul not shared his ideas of limited government and respect for the Constitution with so many across America and the world.