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For Liberty - Review

By Michael Nystrom | December 2, 2009

It's hard to believe that it is almost three years since the beginning of the Ron Paul Revolution. Back in late 2006, when rumors began circulating online of his potential presidential candidacy, Ron Paul was not even a blip on the national mainstream media radar. The events that would transpire over the next three years would catapult him to national fame, casting a global spotlight on his never-ending campaign for Liberty.

Chris Rye and Corey Kealiher have done a tremendous service for us all with their documentary For Liberty: How the Ron Paul Revolution Watered the Withered Tree of Liberty. Not only is it a wonderful memento for all of us who were involved in the campaign, but it serves as an exceptional teaching tool for those who still don't get it about Ron Paul, especially those who may call themselves Republicans. In fact, at the recent West Coast premier of the film, many such Republicans had their first taste of who Ron Paul really is and what he stands for. One audience member had this to say:

I enjoyed the movie, and find it hard to believe that Republicans so marginalized Ron Paul during his candidacy. Quite simply, he is promoting that we get back to the basics of following the Constitution and principles on which this country was founded. That should be embraced, not rejected.

Comments such as this are typical from Republicans, and For Liberty shows us why: From the beginning, the Ron Paul campaign was ignored, ridiculed and marginalized by the mainstream media. But this is not the story of the film; it is only the beginning. The real story is about Ron Paul's message, why it resonated with millions of Americans across the political spectrum, how the mainstream media attempted to silence it, and what his millions-strong army of supporters did in response during the 2008 presidential campaign.

The film takes the form of a documentary, told by the activists who were instrumental in the movement, including exclusive interview excerpts of Dr. Paul himself. In a candid moment early in the film, Dr. Paul explains how he was the most reluctant person to get involved in the race, cataloging the litany of arguments that ran through his head:

I was the most hesitant to get involved - the time isn't right, people haven't heard about this, I'm not the right guy, we need more education…because I believe that ideas move the country, not individuals - unless they're in the right place at the right time.

Dr. Paul was in the right place at the right time. He just didn't know it yet. But what if Ron Paul had talked himself out of it? Pondering that thought for a few minutes can truly boggle the mind. Where would we all be today? None of the activities that are cataloged in the film - the memorable debate clashes with Giuliani, Huckabee, and Fox's Wendell Goler, Ron Paul's Iowa tax rally that outdrew the Tax Forum next door, all the money bombs, the homemade signs, the blimp, the High Tide video, all the other tribute videos, and the Rally for the Republic - would ever have taken place. There'd be no Daily Paul, there'd be no film to record it all, I never would have written this review, and you wouldn't be reading it right now. What would you be doing instead?

Thinking about this reveals how much Ron Paul has changed history already, for each and every one of us, and how the historical forces that have been put into play by his decision remain unfinished. This brings to mind an early conversation I had with Chris Rye about the project. Everyone who lived through the campaign knew that it was something special, and Chris kept thinking to himself, 'someone ought to make a documentary about it. Someone ought to do that.' That someone, of course, turned out to be him and Corey Kealiher. And what they've created is a gem, crafted with love, that will stand the test of time and preserve this story for posterity.

The cast list for the movie tallies close to 50 people, all of whom Chris & Corey took the time to personally visit and interview. They drove across the country in Chris's beautifully preserved, gold colored, vegetable-oil powered, 1984 Mercedes 300D, sleeping on fellow patriots' floors, and using waste fry-oil from Chinese restaurants along the way to power their trip. This is dedication and love in action. There should be a documentary about them making the documentary! When they showed up at World Headquarters of the Daily Paul (my house) (you'll see it in the film - apparently it gets a laugh, as its not what you might expect), they had Michael Maresco in tow and we all had a great time. After my interview, Mike and I piled into one of the back seats of the car (the other seat was filled with equipment) drove off to Larry Lepard's house for his interview, where we sat on the couch and listened as they interviewed Larry.

If you followed the progress of Ron Paul's entire 2008 presidential campaign, the film will bring back all of the highs and lows that are already starting to recede into the dark crevices of memory. If for no other reason, this DVD should be in your personal collection as a reminder of why we're here. It is sometimes easy to forget that and get caught up in petty squabbles, diversions and lose focus our ultimate goal. If you're new to the movement, this film is the back story of how it all got started, a reminder of the energy that once animated this movement, and a preview of what is to still come on a much larger scale in the near future.

Like I said at the beginning, it is hard to imagine that nearly three years have passed since all of this started. One more year makes four, which means that we should get definitive news from Dr. Paul on his plans to run again within the next year. And while I have no inside information, I see absolutely no reason why he wouldn't run again. He remains sharp, energetic, and in good health, and he is in the sweetest spot of his career to effect the kind of change he's been working for his entire life. The difference between last time and this time is like night and day. Then he was an unknown; today he is a household name; he's been proven right on the economy, has two best selling books under his belt, and the awe and respect of his fellow lawmakers in Congress. And of course, he has us. To put it very succinctly: This time he actually has a chance to win.

Watching the film reminded me of when I set up the Daily Paul, back in January 2007. I had heard an interview podcast with him on the The Korelin Economics Report, discussing his potential run. One of the interviewers asked him whether he was running to win, or simply running as an educational campaign. Ron said, "Oh, I'm running to win…but you have to be realistic." I knew it right then and there that he didn't have a chance and he knew it, too. It was an educational campaign, but of course he couldn't say that. I decided to play along and set up the Daily Paul because I'm a sucker for lost causes. But as the momentum built through the campaign season, I got swept up in it like everyone else, and I began to believe.

Late in the movie, I talk about how I really expected him to finish first or second in New Hampshire. By that time, in January of 2008 (nearly two years ago now) I really did believe it. When he came in fifth, it was crushing not just for me, but for all of us. Super Tuesday in February was the finishing blow. It really is heartbreakingly bitter sweet, if you allow yourself to start thinking back, which is what this movie will make you do…

Everyone was disappointed except, I think, for Ron Paul. And the reason he wasn't was because he went so much further than he ever expected. But this time around will be a different story, something I'm sure he understands. "I believe that ideas move the country, not individuals - unless they're in the right place at the right time."

Again he's in the right place at the right time, but this time he knows it. It's the bottom of the ninth, and he's at the plate, the count is 3-2 with two outs against the Republic and there's a big, fat, juicy fastball coming right down the center of the plate called 2012. Yes ideas move the country, but these ideas have been lying around for ages collecting dust until Dr. Paul came along to breathe life into them once again. Anyone can talk about Liberty and the Constitution because words are cheap. Ron Paul has lived the message and remains the living, breathing embodiment of the message for our generation.

For Liberty is a precious reminder of what we're doing and why we're here. Watching the end of the movie, seeing myself crying on the screen, I realized that to some extent, I've been suffering from, and slowly recovering from, a broken heart. Many others have told me that the movie made them cry, too. There remains a deep, untapped wellspring of passion in our movement, ready and waiting to explode. That is why my feeling at the end of the movie was not one of sadness, but one of joy. The first thought that popped from my mind in the powerful, closing scenes of the movie was that we would do it all over again - in a heartbeat. And I'm sure we'll get that chance.

Do yourself a favor and get a copy of the movie for Christmas. You'll be glad you did.


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