Ron Paul speaks at Colgate

Ron Paul speaks to a full house at Memorial Chapel. (Photo by Janna Minehart ’13)

Former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul may not be making another run for the White House, but that did not dissuade the three-time presidential candidate from answering student questions after his speech on Wednesday at Memorial Chapel.

“There is no one I know that serves as a symbol of liberty better than Ron Paul,” said Kyle Gavin ’13, president of Colgate’s College Republicans, the student group primarily responsible for bringing Paul to campus.

As a libertarian, Paul’s message centered on the idea of personal liberties and how an irresponsible and overly large U.S. government is endangering these liberties. Paul entreated students in the audience to step up and tell Washington, D.C., to respect their freedoms, saying, “Things down in Washington haven’t been going so well, and I’m looking forward to your generation doing something about it.”

During his lecture, several of his speaking points, including his desire to abolish the income tax and Federal Reserve System, and shrinking U.S. foreign policy by becoming less involved overseas, elicited hearty applause.

Paul also said the proliferation of laws directed at harnessing and manipulating personal liberties is not what Americans deserve from their democratically elected government, saying, “Freedom will take care of the people a lot better than a bunch of bureaucrats and politicians.”

In a lengthy question and answer period after his lecture, proponents and opponents of Paul’s political beliefs took to the microphone.

Javed Narejo ’14 asked Paul about whether or not America has a humanitarian responsibility to intervene in Syria. Paul, a supporter of decreasing the U.S. presence overseas, responded, “We don’t have a moral or constitutional authority to meddle in Syria.” Adding, “It sounds good, but may well backfire.”

A questioned posed by Janna Minehart ’13 detailed a system where a “loss of talent will occur when hardworking and intelligent, but poor people are not encouraged to succeed,” honing in on Paul’s stance on reforming the welfare system. “This is a perfect point on how we are giving stuff away that we don’t have,” Paul responded. “People have to have [their own] incentive. There are going to be inequities.”

Austin Collier ’15 asked about the dangers of martial law and the burgeoning national prison system. Paul responded by saying there are “too many laws and too many unnecessary laws,” especially laws criminalizing recreational drugs.

The event was sponsored by the College Republicans, the Center for Freedom and Western Civilization, the Institute for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, The Budget Allocation Committee, Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, and The Colgate Entrepreneurs Club.