With such a lackluster campaign and the absence of any candidates from either party who I can really get very excited about, at least Ron Paul’s candidacy does keep things interesting. Much of the interest actually comes from events beyond Paul’s actual campaign. The latest such event is a raid by federal agents on an organization which is distributing coins with Ron Paul on them. The Washington Post reports:
The ardent supporters of Rep. Ron Paul, the iconoclastic Texas libertarian whose campaign for the presidency is threatening to upend the battle for the Republican nomination, got word yesterday of a new source of outrage and motivation: reports of a federal raid on a company that was selling thousands of coins marked with the craggy visage of their hero.
Federal agents on Thursday raided the Evansville, Ind., headquarters of the National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve Act and Internal Revenue Code (Norfed), an organization of “sound money” advocates that for the past decade has been selling a private currency it calls “Liberty Dollars.” The company says it has put into circulation more than $20 million in Liberty Dollars, coins and paper certificates it contends are backed by silver and gold stored in Idaho, are far more reliable than a U.S. dollar and are accepted for use by a nationwide underground economy.
Norfed officials said yesterday that the six-hour raid occurred just as its six employees were mailing out the first batch of 60,000 “Ron Paul Dollars,” copper coins sold for $1 to honor the candidate, who is a longtime advocate of abolishing the Federal Reserve. The group says it has shipped out about 10,000 silver Ron Paul Dollars that sold for $20 and about 3,500 of the copper $1 coins. But it said the agents seized more than 50,000 of the copper coins — more than two tons’ worth — plus smaller amounts of the silver coins and gold and platinum Ron Paul Dollars, which sell for $1,000 and $2,000.
Personally I don’t find this terribly important either way. I really doubt that the foundations of our economic system will be destroyed by such alternative currency. I have no personal objections to them using coins with Ron Paul’s image, but this is hardly where I’d place the battleground between freedom and tyranny. I consider the agenda of the religious right a far greater problem, including their opposition to abortion rights, but the so-called libertarians backing Paul are on the side opposing individual liberty on this one.
Paul supporters will undoubtedly become even more excited by this, but it will not impact the election significantly. The type of people who make this a priority of theirs are already in the Paul camp. For others, this might just further demonstrate what type of people back Paul and what their priorities are.
The Paul campaign has no connection to this, but company founder Bernard von NotHaus is a friend and supporter of Ron Paul:
Von NotHaus said that he has known Paul for years because they “move in the same circles” but that he had expressly not talked with Paul about his plans for the special coins so as not to violate federal election laws. He posted a message on the organization’s Web site urging Liberty Dollar supporters to respond to the raid by donating to Paul, saying that “in light of this assault on our financial freedom, it is clear that we need Ron Paul to lead this country more than ever.”
The attitude of many Paul supporters is reflected in Von NotHaus’ comments and the responses of Paul supporters:
“They took everything, all of the computers, everything but the desks and chairs,” the company’s founder and head, Bernard von NotHaus, said in a telephone interview from his home in Miami. “The federal government really is afraid.” Von NotHaus changed the name of Norfed to Liberty Services earlier this year, but affidavits for government search warrants served yesterday continued to use the older name.
News of the raid lit up Ron Paul online forums yesterday, the latest unlikely episode in a campaign that began as an idiosyncratic bid by the veteran congressman but has grown into a cause with the potential to influence the GOP contest. Paul, 72, has attracted droves of disaffected Republicans and independents to his platform, which includes ending the war in Iraq, abolishing the Internal Revenue Service and adhering to a strict libertarian interpretation of the Constitution
I’m certain that many Paul supporters do see this as a sign that “the federal government really is afraid.” This will play into the paranoia of many Paul supporters and fuel many of their conspiracy theories. This will also be seen as a form of evidence of Paul’s importance among those who do not realize that Paul is waging a protest campaign and believe he really has a chance to win.
For many Paul supporters this will be a major issue. They adhere to what they see as a “strict libertarian interpretation of the Constitution” but their interpretation of the Constitution differs considerably from that of most people, including the courts which interpret the Constitution and more importantly the founding fathers who authored it. Unfortunately, while right on issues like Iraq and drug laws, Paul and many of his supporters stress issues such as the gold standard and abolishing the Federal Reserve which most Americans do not see as crucial to liberty. This is contrasted by their interpretation of the Constitution in a manner which would reduce freedom in areas which people would see as actually impacting their daily lives, including Paul’s denial of separation of church and state and the extension of Constitutional liberties to state and local governments.