I took away two significant impressions from the event. First, the diversity of the crowd was incredible. And I don't mean diversity of ethnicity or race; I mean diversity of everything: occupation, background, outlook, political and religious affiliation. I'm not one to worship at the altar of diversity. per se. Too often it is nothing more than a smoke screen used to obfuscate the relative weakness or insignificance of ideas; a form of argumentum ad populum dependent on classes, rather than numbers. But in this case it was different. We had jokingly expected that, in light of the event's location (next to the campus of the University of South Carolina), there would be a big crowd of college students simply interested in drug legalization. But the reality which greeted us was altogether unexpected: other families with young children, elderly veterans, bikers, Southern gentlemen, hippies, and hipsters. college students. And at least two Murray Rothbard t-shirts, which warmed my anarcho-capitalist heart. The diversity which greeted us was significant because they were brought together, not by charisma or the promise of an endless variety of free lunches, but by a set of transcendent, shared ideals: Liberty. Peace. Personal Responsibility. These shared value unified a group that represented nearly every demographic category one could think to define.
Of greater significance was the message, and the crowd's response to that message. No one swooned, spouting drivel about “not having to worry about paying our mortgage or put gas in our cars.” Indeed, the man of the hour spoke of the inflationary danger that virtually guarantees that we will have to worry about such matters in the near future. That Paul's message is dramatically different is no great revelation; it is the way his message is received that is a surprise. Most politicians tell the crowd what they think they want to hear. “I share your values,” “Our country is the best, no matter what,” or “a chicken in every pot, a fancy car in every driveway.” Ron Paul tells crowds the truth; that which they need to hear. He explains Austrian business cycle theory, which is the only plausible explanation for the recent economic malaise from which we've not recovered. He warns of the threat of hyperinflation and the negative ramifications of artificially lowered interest rates. On this particular evening, Dr. Paul made a statement that was decidedly different; and the crowd reacted with raucous applause. He pointed out that there is no such thing as liberty without personal responsibility. And we roared with applause. He is running, not to govern us, but to restrain the state to the extent that it will allow self-governance. That's what makes Ron Paul different. On this night, this crowd understood that, and gloried in it. Let's hope that a majority of Americans follow suit.