Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Tea Party’s Brain

To address these grievances, Paul was ready and waiting. He is not the Tea Party’s founder (there isn’t one), or its culturally resonant figure (that’s Sarah Palin), but something more like its brain, its Marx or Madison. He has become its intellectual godfather—and its actual father, in the case of its brightest rising star, his son Rand Paul, Kentucky’s GOP Senate nominee. The Tea Party has overrun the Republican Party everywhere from Alaska to Kentucky to Maine, and a version of Paul’s bill to audit the Federal Reserve just passed the Senate unanimously en route to becoming law. Today, on matters of economic politics, Paul is at least as significant as any of the Republicans he shared the stage with in the 2007 South Carolina debate. And has anyone noticed that he’s a fixture on Fox News? Paul grew up on a dairy farm outside Pittsburgh and attended Gettysburg College and Duke University’s medical school. Although his libertarian conservatism is characteristic of Texas, he did not settle there until after he had spent five years as an Air Force flight surgeon, part of it stationed in San Antonio. In 1968, he moved to sprawling, rural Brazoria County, and established a successful obstetrics practice. Paul’s passion, however, was not medicine but economics. During medical school, he had happened upon a copy of The Road to Serfdom, the ringing defense of laissez-faire capitalism by the Austrian economist and philosopher Friedrich Hayek. Written in 1944 against the backdrop of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, it argues that state control of the economy leads inexorably to tyranny. (After Glenn Beck endorsed it, Hayek’s book unexpectedly hit the best-seller list last summer.) To Paul, this was an epiphany, and it launched him on a quest to read anything he could find about the Austrian school of economics. The work of Hayek’s mentor, Ludwig von Mises, came to command his singular esteem...more

No comments:

Post a Comment