Republican and Libertarian-leaning Ron Paul won the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) presidential straw poll for the second year in a row, with 30% of the vote. The Texas congressman appeals to younger voters due to his anti-war and pro-civil liberty stance. Other presidential poll results included:
- Mitt Romney – 23%;
- Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie each received 6% of the vote;
- Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is constantly complaining about the influence of secularism, received 5% of vote;
- Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann and Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels were tied at 4% each; and
- Former governors Sarah Palin (Alaska) and Mike Huckabee (Arkansas) each received 2%. They did not attend CPAC.
Gingrich, Pawlenty, Bachmann, Palin and Huckabee all are Christian nationalists who are generally liked by the religious right.
This year, numerous religious right organizations and individuals refused to attend CPAC because the conference would not meet their demands of discriminating against GOProud, a Republican gay activist group that was part of the event.
In his talk before CPAC, Paul said that there is a revolution going on in the country, saying that "we need to change our philosophy about what this country is all about." He talked the Patriot Act, characterizing it as the destruction of the 4th amendment, which bars the government from unreasonable searches and seizures.
He talked about Hosni Mubarak's resignation as president of Egypt and said that the United States needs to stop interfering in other country's governance. He said the U.S. invested $70 billion in "that puppet dictator." Paul is against foreign aid, which he says is taking money from the poor people in a rich country and giving it to rich people in poor countries. He cited the Founding Fathers' philosophy of trading with others and having good relations with them but not getting involved in foreign entanglements.
Paul predicted that instability will continue in the Middle East because the people do not like "us propping up their dictators," no more than we would like having foreign powers finance dictators in our country. He said that when it spreads to Saudi Arabia, there will be real problems which are a consequence of our flawed foreign policy.
It makes no sense for us to keep troops in 135 countries forever, he said. It's time to reassess our foreign policy.
Defense spending is one thing, military spending is another he said, citing Eisenhower's reference to the military industrial complex.
Paul said that the Federal Reserve needs to be audited and it eventually needs to be ended. Since its creation in 1913, the Federal Reserve eliminated 98% of the value of the 1913 dollar, he said, and "we have the moral and legal authority to put checks on the Federal Reserve system."
"We have had way too much bipartisanship for about 60 years," he said, citing the welfare system, the warfare system and the challenge to civil liberties.
As far as American exceptionalism, he thinks we are losing it because we are losing our devotion to liberty. He is opposed to the philosophy of "moral responsibility to use force." "Force never works," he said. Treating others the way we would like to be treated is a philosophy that we should follow.
Paul also talked about freedom of expression, saying that all viewpoints fall under that freedom, including controversial issues. Paul said that it is wrong for people to try to regulate others' economic activity and personal lifestyles. He said we should swear off the use of violence against our neighbors and other countries.
"Liberty comes from our creator, not our government," he went on to say. "Government should never be allowed to do anything you can't do."
He criticized the redistribution of wealth under taxation.
Paul said the ideas for liberty are alive and well in the next generation, talking about the young people who he has encountered in his political career. He asked young people to consider opting out of the system by saving 10% of their earnings for themselves and not asking the government for anything.
The United States faces serious economic consequences, he said, but "the brush fires of liberty are burning," referring to a speech by Sam Adams. The welfare state, the warfare state and the police state have no constitutional authority, he said, and said that we must assume personal responsibility for promoting liberty.
Liberty is the only humanitarian system that exists for mankind, he concluded.