That is Congressman Ron Paul, speaking to a surprisingly large crowd of supporters on the extremely wet lawn of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania the day before today’s Republican presidential primary. The site where this nation’s founding charter was drafted was an apt forum for a candidate whose entire campaign is based upon a return to Constitutional, i.e. limited, government. As it turned out, the city of Philadelphia provided the perfect venue for illustrating the chasm between the country conceived by the nation’s founders-whose powers were circumscribed and few, and chiefly designed to ensure the protection of personal liberties-and the nation in which we currently live, whose government endorses the confiscation of private property and mandates the purchase of health insurance in order to enrich well-connected corporate interests.
The diminution of traditionally enjoyed freedoms was illuminated by my friends’ encounter with a security guard policing the Federal Detention Center of Philadelphia. As they began to snap a photo in front of the building-an activity universal to out of towners-they were admonished not to take pictures, lest they have their cameras and recording devices seized. Although taking photographs of federal buildings is a perfectly legitimate, legal activity-news that hasn’t reached the City of Brotherly Love, evidently-we were told that we couldn’t take any pictures in that vicinity. When asked why this activity was prohibited, we were told it was because of “terrorism” concerns, which engendered a five minute-long argument that resembled a scene from Family Guy.
After debating the criminalization of constitutionally protected behavior, we proceeded to walk to the End the Fed rally held in front of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, which preceded the day’s main event, Philadelphia Phreedom. Luckily, we found a fleet of vans and cars that pointed us in the right direction.
As the slogan above indicates, one of the sponsors of the End the Fed rally was Veterans for Ron Paul. Although the crux of this event’s message consisted of a critique of the Federal Reserve’s manipulation of federal monetary policy,
Another recurring talking point was the consistent support Ron Paul receives among active duty service members and veterans of the Armed Forces, a fact attested to by the large number of donations these two groups collectively give to Ron Paul’s presidential campaign.
There was an attempt by the rally’s organizers to bring the two seemingly divergent themes together.
The scheduled roster of speakers included a number of military veterans, including insurgent congressional candidate Karen Kwiatowski and Adam Kokesh, late of Russia Today.
Kokesh emphasized the foreign policy and national security dimensions of Rep. Paul’s campaign, referencing his promise not to engage in any military conflict that hasn’t explicitly been authorized through a congressional declaration of war.
The policy of non-intervention and national self defense espoused by Paul was invoked repeatedly throughout the day, a particularly resonant theme in an election year where two major military incursions were undertaken in pursuit of goals that are ambiguous, and potentially counterproductive to American security interests.
The backdrop to this city provided some interesting optics for anti-war activists in general, illustrated by this statue of a Civil War Era officer whose steed’s hindquarters have been affixed with a poster ridiculing the bipartisan consensus on warfare. In this case, the overwhelming congressional support given to an open-ended search for Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, the target of an effective viral video campaign by Invisible Children, a dubious non-profit opposed to the Lord’s Resistance Army.
Interestingly enough, this statue preceded another one honoring President William McKinley, the man who presided over the Spanish-American War. For those of you who may not recall, America’s involvement in that conflict was precipitated to a large degree by yellow journalism, a less interactive-but equally potent-predecessor to Youtube and social media websites.
Not every piece of art was relevant to the themes of Philadelphia Phreedom though, as this amorphous, abstract sculpture demonstrates.
In addition to the issues of war and peace, a number of other significant problems with our current government were identified, including the current Internal Revenue Code, which-as the sign below illustrates-Ron Paul has promised to do away with, should he be afforded the opportunity as President.
Beyond highlighting specific policy planks, the overriding message of both the End the Fed event and the larger Philly Phreedom rally was the revolutionary message of the Paul campaign, insofar as his beliefs are in contradiction to not only what the two presumptive presidential nominees-and their respective parties-believe, but in opposition to the current mindset that animates Washington D.C. and how the federal government operates.
One thing that I took away from the day’s events was the impression that supporters of the Ron Paul campaign were not merely content to champion the presidential ambitions of a single man-even if it was a man who embodied their beliefs and hopes for this country-but instead were committed to building a much broader and more resilient liberty movement for future generations of Americans.
Like most Ron Paul rallies, this event took some jabs at the perceived media bias against his presidential campaign, a criticism echoed, albeit in a more calculated way, by supporters of the Media Research Center, who used the occasion to distribute Don’t Believe The Liberal Media signs. However, I was gratified when attempts by Alex Jones fans to exploit the event for their own purposes were met mostly with indifference-perhaps a sign of the growing maturity of the liberty movement-although, as you can see below, they were not completely unsuccessful in promoting their website.
After the rally in front of the Federal Reserve had concluded, the participants began to march around the Center City District of Philadelphia, a procession that would ultimately end up in front of Independence Hall for the main portion of Philadelphia Phreedom, which culminated in a keynote address by Rep. Paul.
As you can see, the weather conditions were far from ideal for an open-air event.
Although some individuals used the inclement weather to their advantage.
The demands for abolition of the Federal Reserve continued after leaving for Independence Hall, with many of the same protestors enthusiastically shouting, ‘END THE FED.’
The crushing national debt placed upon ordinary Americans by the actions of the Federal Reserve and Congress was creatively illustrated by this man:
The historical significance of both the setting and the campaign for which they were assembled was reflected by this man’s hooded sweatshirt-probably more appropriate attire than the t-shirt and thin dress shirt I was wearing for most of the day.
In my next post I’ll give you my thoughts on the rest of Philadelphia Phreedom, including the speeches made by Ron Paul and his surrogates on the lawn of Independence Hall.