Ron Paul: The federal government is Nero

Ron Paul gave a one-hour speech on the floor of the House of Representatives yesterday. Paul is leaving Congress in January and said that this address is likely “the last time I speak on the House floor.” In typical Ron Paul fashion, he left no doubt as to what he thinks about the current state of America and about the disastrous effects of big government and wild deficit spending; what he referred to as “a major financial crisis and… a foreign policy that would overextend us and undermine our national security.”

Say what you want about Ron Paul, but the guy is nothing if not consistent. Paul has been given the nickname “Dr. No,” both a reference to his profession as a medical doctor and to his insistence to never vote for legislation that is not expressly authorized by the Constitution. The fact that his “No” votes far outweigh his “Yes” votes points to a major conflict: either Ron Paul doesn’t understand the Constitution, or the vast majority of legislation is unconstitutional. I will leave the reader to decide on this, although I am quite certain that you already know the answer.

Early in his speech, Paul made the following declaration:

A grand, but never mentioned, bipartisan agreement allows for the well-kept secret that keeps the spending going. One side doesn’t give up one penny on military spending, the other side doesn’t give up one penny on welfare spending, while both sides support the bailouts and subsidies for the banking and corporate elite. And the spending continues as the economy weakens and the downward spiral continues. As the government continues fiddling around, our liberties and our wealth burn in the flames of a foreign policy that makes us less safe.

Notice his subtle reference to “fiddling” and “flames.” This is an allusion to the popular legend about the Emperor Nero playing the violin while Rome burned in a massive conflagration in A.D. 64. Suetonius, the Roman historian, records that Nero actually started the fire and played his music in a tower as he sang about the destruction of Troy. Tacitus, a Roman senator and historian, claimed that Nero needed a scapegoat for the fire and blamed the Christians in Rome. This began a long pogrom of persecution against the followers of Christ as being “enemies of the state.”

In Ron Paul’s use of these words in his speech, he is essentially comparing the federal government to Nero and our freedoms and finances to the Christians. What Paul is not so cryptically saying is that things have gotten so far out of whack in this country that the government actually views free people as a threat and will do whatever it must to keep them in subjection, even to the point of burning their “liberties” and their “wealth.” In Paul’s mind, just as Christians were cast as the scourge of Rome, so liberty-loving Americans are being cast as the scourge of America. If Paul’s warnings sound bleak and alarming, it is only because they are. The harsh truth is seldom easy to hear.

With Ron Paul not running for re-election, who will be left to sound the warning? He has served in Congress for 23 years and has had the same basic message. His voice of strict constructionism and limited government has been unwavering, but has anyone been listening? With Dr. No gone, will there be any to rise up and take on his contrarian mantle?