Imagine, for a moment, the perfect congressman. Though he works in Washington, D.C., a city of shameless opportunism, shifting allegiances, and flannel-mouthed pieties, he is both deeply principled and wholly uncompromised. He does not bend with the political winds. He does not take money from corporate PACs. Lobbyists cannot sway him; to try is a waste of time. He never bargains with his own deeply held beliefs, nor does he cut backroom deals. Because his political views and his personal convictions are in complete harmony, he seldom faces a “tough” vote. And when the politicking for the week is over, he returns to his district to take up his lifelong occupation, which has nothing to do with politics.
This, of course, sounds like unalloyed fantasy; no one who clung so tenaciously—or so naively—to his beliefs would last in Washington. The grizzled old pols who run the place would grind him up and sprinkle him on their pecan-encrusted mahimahi for dinner. But there is such a man. Whether he is perfect or not is a matter for debate, as you will see, but the plain fact is that a congressman named Ron Paul, a 66-year-old Republican who represents Texas’ 14th Congressional District, otherwise fits this description exactly. The phrase “honest politician” is an oxymoron; yet in the sense that Paul never, ever votes against his stated principles—which are libertarian and include the belief that much of our federal government, from the IRS to the Department of Education, and the massive taxes that support it, should be abolished—the phrase describes him.
Wait. There’s more. The same beliefs that cause him to vote against every single appropriations bill in Congress also carry over to his