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Nystrom: What I learned from my conversation with Ron Paul - Part I

Note: As I mentioned yesterday, I got a phone call from Ron Paul yesterday that was very educational, and I want to share it with you. I had to work today, and didn't get to start on this until around 5:30. I also didn't get to specifically address why Sarah Palin endorsing Rand Paul is a good thing, but I think you should be able to figure it out. Anyway, I'll write that probably Thrusday. I won't have the time tomorrow. Thank you for your patience.

Here's how the phone call began:

Me: Hi Ron.
Dr. Paul: Michael! How are you?
Me: Fine, how are you?
Dr. Paul: Not good! he said with his ironic laugh.

We both had a laugh at that one, and the ice was quickly broken. He was calling, of course, about the firestorm that had erupted over the C4L Ken Buck ad. He was not at all happy about it and in fact was personally quite hurt by it. "Don't people trust me?" he asked.

"Of course we trust you. There is no question about that," I told him. "I don't know how many times people have told me that they would take a bullet for you." The problem, I told him, was some of us were less certain about the Campaign for Liberty itself, and the motivations behind the ad.

This is when he gently handed me the grenade, to blow myself up with:

Dr. Paul: Michael, how much do you know about that race in Colorado?
Me: Um....gulp.

Truth be told, I didn't know much, except what I read... on the Internet. But in my mind, I had already spun some fantastic stories and jumped to some rash conclusions without any evidence at all, as many of us did. Rather than waiting for an explanation, we let these spill & fester in public, on the Internet.

At this point, let me reiterate that I am a political neophyte, and my real political education began only three years ago, when I started this website basically on a whim. I am inexperienced both in politics, and in handling a website of this size. This is in no way an excuse, just some objective background information. From my perch behind the screen, I can't say that I understand everything I have seen over the last three years. And this is where Dr. Paul helped me out.

I wanted to take detailed notes of our conversation, but in the end, there were only two items on my notepad, and some doodles. Unfortunately, I cannot reconstruct the entire conversation from memory. For one thing, I was nervous - I was talking to Ron Paul after all, and about this very charged subject. For another, there was a lot of information. Imagine listening to Ron Paul talk on a YouTube for 20 minutes, then try to recall exactly what he said, in the order he said it. I'm just not able to do it. He's smart, he talks fast, and made connections that I only caught up to later. So what I will give you is my interpretation of the conversation. Any errors, or misrepresentations of Dr. Paul's words or ideas are mine, and completely unintentional.

One of the two items on my pad are the scrawled words, "The Campaign for Liberty is a political organization."

This seems like an obvious statement, but I've never considered what it means. Many of us here, myself included, were concerned that the C4L was 'selling out' its principles. In one of my very critical posts, I was quite vocal in stating that "noninterventionism is something that we do not compromise on."

But politics is about getting things done, and you can get things done without selling out principles. "Take for example," Dr. Paul said, "something that you're very interested in - the audit of the Federal Reserve. We have been effective on this issue because I work with people across the political spectrum, people like Bernie Sanders and Alan Grayson."

I doubt anyone could be ideologically further from Ron Paul than Bernie Sanders. Sanders is a self-described socialist. Alan Grayson is a Democrat who believes in big government, and government sponsored health care. And yet Grayson was one of the first Democrats to cosponsor HR1207 and is responsible for getting over 100 more Democrats to cosponsor the bill. Sanders is the sponsor of the Senate version of Ron Paul's bill to Audit the Fed (S604).

I doubt anyone here would think that Ron Paul 'sold out' his principles by working together with either Sanders or Grayson. They don't agree on other issues. Fine. On this issue, they're getting big things done by working together. The Fed has been around since 1913, and no one has made the kind of progress that Ron Paul has made on this issue. Members of Congress have wanted an audit of the Fed for decades, and nothing has ever come of it until now. In December of last year, the House passed a financial services regulatory bill with the full language of Ron Paul's HR1207 as an amendment, called the Paul-Grayson Amendment. Does anyone think Ron compromised his principles because the amendment has Grayson's name on it, and Paul and Grayson are now associated? I don't think so.

(The irony is that as hard as Ron Paul fought for this, the language of his lean bill was rolled into a monstrosity of federal regulation called the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (HR 4173) that he simply couldn't vote for. On principle. But it passed.)

The same conventions - of working together on mutual interests - apply to the C4L. This is what it means that the C4L is a political organization. In Washington DC, the name of the game is politics, like it or not. Which brings me to the second word scrawled on my notepad, which is "tactics." Tactics, if you look it up in the dictionary, means 'the art or science of deploying and maneuvering forces for battle.' With Audit the Fed, Dr. Paul got his bill through the House with skillful tactical maneuvering. One of the forces at his disposal was the Campaign for Liberty, which according to Ronnie Paul's statement, played a major role. Tactical maneuvering does not imply sacrificing principles.

Requiring a 100% agreement litmus test on all issues would make it impossible to get anything done. For Buck's part, he is on record as giving 19 good answers on the survey. This is where the tactics come in. Ron Paul is proud of the C4L, and the gains it has made, as we all should be. Sometimes we forget that, but look at the organization, not from your own perspective, but from that of the status quo political establishment: The C4L is huge grassroots army, over 250,000 members strong and growing with great media exposure, big fund raising ability, and a vocal and activist membership with chapters in every state. To any outsider, it is a formidable competitor. The more it grows, the more it is feared. The more it is feared, the more it is respected. The more it is respected, the more influence we have in pushing our own agenda. It becomes a major force in our tactical battles.

This is where the Buck ad comes it. It was a tactic to put pressure on the other candidates, as well as a show of force to the mainstream political establishment. Listen to the interview of Jesse Benton with Kurt Wallace, where he talks about what they're trying to accomplish. Buck is with us on the issue of auditing the Fed. Benton admits the C4L made mistakes in the wording of the ad, and in the lack of communication with the membership. It was also a mistake for the grassroots, myself included, to jump to such harsh conclusions and make unfounded attacks.

This explanation of political tactics might sound trite - I don't know. For me, coming directly from Ron Paul, it was educational, if only because I heard it directly from him. Additionally, what he reminded me of, not with words, but actions, is the importance of kindness and patience. As important as what we accomplish is how we comport ourselves as messengers of Liberty. Dr. Paul sets a high standard, and it is one that I did not live up to.

What was most heartbreaking for me about my conversation with Dr. Paul was how he characterized his feelings over the whole thing. He said it was very depressing to him. This has special significance for me because I once had a conversation with him about this. It was the day before the Revolution March in 2008, and I had gone to DC a day early to meet him. I was riding in the back seat of his car - we were on the way to dinner. Tom Woods was riding shotgun, and Dr. Paul was driving. I told him that I knew people in our movement who were almost crippled with depression over what was going on in the world. I asked him if he ever got depressed about it all. His answer came quick: "Nope. Not at all." I was intrigued. "Why? What is your secret?" I asked. His reply: "Low expectations!"

At the time I thought it was funny, but he was serious about it. He followed up by saying that all the times he was on stage during the debates, when people laughing at him, ridiculing him and jeering him, it never affected him. "I was a little worried that it didn't affect me," he said.

I've had a year and a half to think about his words, and I've thought about them often. How would it feel to be on that stage and not be affected? It made me imagine him as some kind of a zen master, doing what he does not for any expectation of gain or reward, but simply for the doing of it, because it is the right thing to do, unswayed by the criticism of the world around him.

This is why it was particularly crushing for me to hear him say how depressing it was for him.

Imagine working diligently towards something for 30 years, being in striking range, with all the accumulated tactical wisdom under your belt of how to achieve it, having a huge organization that you built up at your disposal, being completely focused on your goal, and then suddenly, some of your most ardent supports turn on you, start second guessing you, rabidly attacking you, and threatening to tear down everything you've built.

I imagine it would be depressing.

I certainly don't want that for Dr. Paul, and I don't think any of us here want it either. I hope we have all learned something valuable from this whole experience, and are ready to move forward, stronger in our understanding and our focus.

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jaseed's picture

Low Expectations - Someone should write a book

... "assuming that we don't quit before the finish line!"
consider this: Rand has YEARS of experience with his father!

“The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time: the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.”

– Thomas Jefferson

What do you think

of a guy who says this:

"I think the foreign policy in this country has to be focused on protecting our interests in this country, and not in nation building in other countries and not in other aspects of foreign policies. I think that we have to take a serious look at whether we can afford the military involvement we have in 130 different countries.

And when you're talking about Afghanistan, I think the invasion of Afghanistan was appropriate, they were harboring Al Queda, there was no doubt about the link between Taliban and Al Queda. I think we now have to do our best to extricate ourselves from that situation and not have a prolonged invasion of that country, or occupation, and especially if we're not welcome.

And I can see where if there are more and more civilian casualties, and I certainly don't blame our military for that, we're doing our best to conduct military operations, but there will be a time when the welcome mat will be withdrawn and we need to do our best to make sure we are seen in a positive light in those regions of the world.

I worry very much about where Iran is going with its nuclear program and I think we're appropriate with having a presence in the Middle East, but I worry about the "nation building" objective we have in some of these countries."

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/rocky-mtn-blogs/2009/05/13/rock... beginning at 42:10

I understand

It's important to have allies, as long as we don't compromise our core message and beliefs, and you are right most of us are not that close to politics to fully understand the Washington machine.

Fear knocked on my door and Faith answered!

Dr Paul was out in the sun, Vitamin D relieves depression.

This is nothing that shakes my belief that Dr. Paul is trustworthy. I am looking forward to reading his book "A Foreign Policy of Friendship"

The information that "C4L is a political organization" struck me as odd. I guess I thought of it as an apolitical organization as I think of DP.

Educucation, Information, Analysis, Opinion and Disucsion are apolitical, without politics. Or at least not troops followig orders of Dems or Republican, mmmm... koolaid sweet, koolaid good.

You see, I don't want to replace the old political system and methods but give it the Funeral it has earned and deserves. As I read Rothbard, that system has been a zombie controlled by powerful men since 1896. Before that time 80-90% turned out at the polls.

How do we revive something that no living man has experienced?

One way is the Daily Paul the other C4L and local Tea Parties. There are others. All start with individual liberty and personal responsibility. It ends by giving freedom to others.

Free includes debt-free!

ckpac This comment deserves its own thread!

Cliff notes:

"Furthermore, this post by Michael feels emotionally manipulative to me, especially the melodramatic closing paragraph;
"Imagine working diligently towards something for 30 years, being in striking range, with all the accumulated tactical wisdom under your belt of how to achieve it, having a huge organization that you built up at your disposal, being completely focused on your goal, and then suddenly, some of your most ardent supports turn on you, start second guessing you, rabidly attacking you, and threatening to tear down everything you've built."...

Who is trying to tear down everything he's built? How do blog comments have the power to destroy 30 years of work? And who "turned on" Dr. Paul?...

I didn't feel that Jesse Benson's "explanation" provided real satisfaction or resolution.
$350K from "private donors" for a specific ad. Why?
Why did they come to C4L, why didn't they just do the ad themselves? Were they members of C4L? If so, why were they allowed to act as a special interest group using the C4L brand name?...

They used that brand, which implies our endorsement, to support a candidate who advocates a political position which we deplore.... war. To surrender one's principles by an inch is to surrender one's principle's in total."

"it is good for the establishment to adopt liberty ideology, but it is not good for those who have already adopted liberty to fall to the feet of the establishment." ~ Annica2

Sounds an awful lot like

"go along to get along" or "the lesser of two evils" rhetoric to me.

I've met Ron Paul too (and believe heartily in his principles). But he's too nice, too civil for our adversaries. They don't play by anyone else's rules. He (quantly) still thinks the election process works and that we can "vote the scoundrels out". That train, I fear, has long-since left the station.

We can't beat them by becoming them...

if we do, what have we won?

Ending the Fed is important

Ending the war(s) is important. I can't spend my resources on anything that promotes war although I appreciate efforts against the fed.

I do not condone public policy which does not provide equal protection to gays...and I am not sure if I support state prohibition of abortion. But for me, it does not preclude my support for Medina's governor's race. (If she were seeking federal office and was pro war then I could not support her). We all have our own value systems...our own lines to draw.

So go forth C4L give'm hell. We appreciate any efforts to increase liberty. I will financially support PACs that do not compromise on the foriegn policy issue. That is my choice (and my money). I do not judge the tactics of others.

Michael, how much do you know about that race in Colorado?

I know I can't say this without being a smartass, but Michael, didn't some of us here in Colorado attempt to fill you in on the details of that race?

The time is nearing

were we need to gird our loins and get ready for a great political battle.

Time to get involved on the ground level. Join a meetup. Start a meetup.

P.S. Glad Dr. Paul gave Nystrom a little spanking he needed it.

Trust but always verify


There has got to be at least

There has got to be at least ONE Libertarian that would step up to run in this race in Colorado! Not one?

would that have not solved all the problems of the world instead of propping up a neocon?


The US Senate race is still in its primary. The time to go looking at candidates outside of the party is during the general election.

is it fair to say

The basic summary of part I sounds like Dr. Paul and CFL compromised on nonintervention to support a candidate that was against the fed.

I personally feel that if we accomplish any one thing is that the FED and Fiat money die. Without these two things then all items like war, socialism, etc will wither on the vine.

I concur

End the FED first. Stick to the one thing we all agree on regardless of why. We'll have plenty of time afterwards to argue about our differences.

Thanks Michael!!!

Thanks Michael!!!

"You are not what you think you are, but what you think............. you are".
-Earl Nightingale

Mr. Nystrom just curious?

I can not get enough of Dr.Paul's wisdom,Just curious, will there be part two or is this enough said?as it would be understandable.

If I disappear from a discussion please forgive me. My 24-7 business requires me to split mid-sentence to serve them. I am not ducking out, I will be back later to catch up.

Michael Nystrom's picture

There will be a part II. It

There will be a part II. It is in my head. I have to find the time to write it. I had something unexpected come up today. I'd hoped to have it done today, but if so, it won't be until late this evening.


He's the man.



Thank you sir

I was only curious because part one actually put it all in perspective.Thank you for your time Sir.

If I disappear from a discussion please forgive me. My 24-7 business requires me to split mid-sentence to serve them. I am not ducking out, I will be back later to catch up.


Easy there big fella!

What is a perceived mistake is a great opportunity!

I really appreciate your dictation of the conversation and sharing your vulnerable thoughts.

Lets keep this in perspective.
-you said you were a political neophyte just opening up on whim 3 years ago. Well I gotta say most of are. 3 years huh?

Imagine the trial and error a 3 year old must go through to learn the pitfalls, hazards and joys of life. It's all good. It made us stronger and wiser.

The American Political Theater is a mine field of hazards. We are bound to take a little shrapnel from time to time.

- Depressed is a heavy word, but lets think about it. Mr.Nystrom whether you like it or not you have started something instrumental and influential in this movement your impact on the Liberty Community will remain historic for what you have done.

Ron Paul knows how important your work is to all of us because it is the think tank, the incubator and the fertilizer for his support. You make it so easy for us to relate and express our growing spirit on this site.

For that, Ron Paul meant to unload that statement on you. He knows you can handle it. He wants to remind you (US) how important it is that we stay together and how powerful this site is to the movement. Most importantly he wants us to consider the gravity of what say and how it is interpreted and how it can be measured.

-We are not the only ones responsible. C4L has got to be better with communicating their agenda to the supporters.
We just helped them realize that!

Lets seize this great opportunity to rally the people and turn this thing into a real possitive learning experience!

Were with you Michael. I am your brother and we will win this struggle. We need your wisdom and creativity to pull it off...


For Freedom!
The World is my country, all mankind is my brethren, to do good is my religion.

I feel most depressed when I don' meet my expectaions for myself

Like proofreading. I tend see what I wanted to write not what I actually wrote.

People in groups have expectations. When one's expectation does not conform to reality, one must hold a funeral for a faulty dream. Or else one can get stuck in moral quicksand. It's a process.

Robot Chicken -Giraffe

One way out?

With a little help from my friends -Beatles

What to expect?
If government were the proper size there would be no money for it to hand out. If lobbying is unprofitable then the ugliness of high stakes big money politics would take it's place besides the Soviet system in the dustbin of history. What will replace it? Free markets can find the way by trial and error. Viable ideas survive or are revived. Funerals for the rest.

Frodo went to throw away the ring of power. The Fellowship of the Ring, in the end, all rejected the One Ring's temptation. We cannot win with force and power. We don't need to.

Star Trek Next Generation -Booby Trap

For a more technical historical investigation here's Hoppe. I've listened to it several times. He explains how we get out of Marx's quicksand. Frodo and Giordi dramatize Hoppe's solution


Free includes debt-free!

Ron Paul's defense of the C4L is very discouraging.

His leading of with "dont people trust me?" which would indicate that the C4L is doing what Ron Paul wants them to do is even more discouraging.

I am much more troubled by this matter than before.

ph, a2 and r76 Excellent comments +10


"You are a den of vipers and thieves."

I mean to rout you out!

-Just because you are among us, does not make you with us

-The door is wide open, anything can slither in

Let's NOT confuse

Paul/Grayson/Sanders with running ads for Ken Buck.

HR1207/S604 is legislation that Paul/Grayson/Sanders ALL agree on. Dr Paul "sold out" NOTHING in that alliance. I doubt Dr Paul would be co-sponsoring any Grayson/Sanders health care bill anytime soon for the sake of reaching out. On the other hand Senator Buck will be voting to expand and fund the Afghanistan war, and who knows about Pakistan and Iran.

As for "tactics",... the man voted against the very bill that included his own HR1207 out of principle for heaven's sake! Political expediency and tactics are not in the good doctor's vocabulary.

I am as certain Dr Paul had no hand in this mess as I am that he didn't pen those racially charged newsletters. But always the gentlemen, Dr Paul is out there answering for a debacle he had no hand in.

absolutely. there's no room

absolutely. there's no room for ron paul to take the blame on this one. there are many circumstances where i have openly disagreed with ron paul, but i don't even think he is a factor in this.

i get the principle behind working with others outside the movement, and it works, but there's something in my mind telling me that has absolutely nothing to do with what happened in this case.

You took the words right out

You took the words right out of my mouth phatphing. The whole time I was reading Michael's sincere post here I kept saying to myself, "I still don't see it man..." The comparison between the HR1207 thing and this is simply non-existent. THEY came to HIS bill here. The wording was very specific and concise. It's perhaps the most monumental achievement of Dr Paul's career and out of PRINCIPLE he voted against it when it got attached to a typical BS bill.

The fact remains that going "political" is not how I saw this movement going when I began my educational Pentecost after being introduced to RP as his campaign was getting underway. I speak as a former Michael Savage neo-con here. Since, I learned from not only Dr Paul, but Murray Rothbard, Lew Rockwell, and all the great austrian economists that there are things you just don't compromise on.

There SIMPLY IS NO WAY this can be explained away as "tactical" or "for the greater good." It's everything I've come to stand against. Against everything Dr Paul stood against in the past. I'm heartbroken by this whole debacle and I wish there was some magical explanation that could make it all seem clear. Even RJ Harris, after a brilliantly written response has caved and now sounds like an organizational kool-aid drinker. I just don't get it.

Choose the Individual over the Collective

We in the liberty movement share a healthy distrust of collective bodies from the UN all the way down to your local GOP chapters, because we understand that concentrating power, money and influence, however good the intention, never works. Look at CATO, now chaired by Rupert Murdoch. Or the Libertarian Party,... Bob Barr?... Really?!

Yet we are so quick to accommodate those who want to lead us down the same path. And while we plead for die hard GOP or Obama backers to awake from their partisan stupor, in the same breath, we pledge allegiance to our own establishment.

I would rather see each individual contribute to candidates of their choice than turning that decision over to any collective body including C4L. My guess is liberty candidates like Kokesh, Harris, Medina, Dennis, Towne et al would outraise Buck from C4L readers any day.

Thanks again, Michael...

I have always appreciated your willingness to share the details of your personal journey. And now we have the bonus of a lesson from our hero.

I have many times thought of how Dr. Paul would feel reading some of the threads on DP, and I guess that bit of empathy has made me more sensitive to the WAY we express our opinions.

"As important as what we accomplish is how we comport ourselves as messengers of Liberty."

How true, and how sobering is that responsibility.
As a member of a couple of "oddball" minorities (Osteopathic physician vs. M.D.; Latter Day Saint vs. Member Of Almost Any Other Religion In The World) I am more aware of the image I project as a REPRESENTATIVE of those minorities.

Sometimes on the DailyPaul we forget just how small a group we are compared to society as a whole.
Concepts and facts we take for granted are completely alien to the masses.

We NEED each other for comfort and support.
It can get pretty lonely being the one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind.

I think that is why Ron became "depressed". We have RAISED his "expectations". We have shown him that he is not alone in his convictions; that there are many more who would share his burden.

While he was curing our apathy, we were curing him of his skepticism.

He now actually believes that he could live to see America change course.

But with hope comes the possibility of disappointment.

Let's not disappoint him.

The Virtual Conspiracy

well said

He was especially encourage by the young students.

RP R3VOLution