The front desk called called nervously as we closed in on a half hour before the press conference start time on April 17th. Two young men fully dressed in Ron Paul regalia, but unfortunately of the t-shirt and shorts variety, were desperate to get in to the press conference announcing Ron Paul's new Institute for Peace and Prosperity. Unfortunately the venue had a dress code, and shorts and t-shirts were definitely out, Ron Paul fans or not. The young men were dejected, pleading with the front desk as I arrived downstairs.
"Please please if we can put some better clothes on can we come in to the conference," they asked desperately. They pointed to a small group going upstairs in only slightly-more-formal-than-shorts jeans and casual button-down shirts, who somehow squeaked through the watchful eyes of the establishment.
I smiled and joked, "surely you can do better than that, but sure come back when you have changed."
I rushed back upstairs to try and handle the million and one details and forgot about it.
After the conference up to me came two beaming fellows in matching but hilariously goofy khaki pants and pink shirts (one not very well-fitting). Twins of very different races.
"Hey, do you remember us? We were the guys who showed up in shorts! We ran as fast as we could to Union Station, grabbed some decent clothes, told the clerk not to bother to fold them or put them in a bag, dressed in the street as we ran back to the press conference! And here we are!"
I was so impressed with these young men. With their dedication and their determination. These are the types of supporters that Ron Paul has motivated and excited throughout the country and beyond. What a thrill to have people like that interested in Dr. Paul's new venture. We will strive to live up to their hopes and expectations.
The press conference went off without a hitch, as can be seen in the video. It was standing room only and there were so many friends and colleagues who came out to see us, including a healthy delegation from the former Ron Paul Congressional office. Many of these are spread by the winds to different fields. But as we have all discovered, in a strange way we are all still colleagues and when we get together we still speak very much the same language. Even Dr. Paul has noticed this, remarking the other day how pleased he was that we all seemed to have a shared identity and retained collegiality.
My friend Oleg Kravchenko, acting Ambassador from Belarus, showed up to the event. Regardless of what one may feel about the internal political and economic dynamics of Belarus, my friendship with Oleg dates back to our shared opposition to the constant US intervention in the internal affairs of that country. How many millions of our tax dollars have been wasted trying to overthrow a leader in Belarus who means the US no harm and in fact would love to cultivate better relations? But US foreign policy is a zero sum game – do what we say and we will subsidize you, resist and we will overrthrow you or bomb you. There is simply no place for those who would rather pursue their own economic and political destinies – a phenomenon thhat logic would suggest is a natural development at the end of communist forced conformity.
Even many who call themselves "libertarian" refuse to consider this part of non-interventionism – leaving the other guy alone even if you disagree with how he is doing things. Like a know-it-all neighbor, they demand countries like Cuba and Belarus and China, and so on, do as we say or else. This is the point where they toss the non-aggression theory out the window and become indistinguishable from the neo-conservatives.
Oleg was one of the speakers at Dr. Paul's regular Thursday luncheon group back in the Congressional office, delivering a message about the millions of dollars in lost trade and business opportunities for Americans in his country because of the wrong-headed US policy of sanctions to force "democratization." Is it any more moral for the US government to deny its citizens the right to invest and profit from business activity in Belarus than any policy pursued by the government in Minsk?
This will be a focus of the Institute – the unintended consequencess of interventionism. Opposing an interventionist foreign policy is far more than simply being antiwar. US war on a foreign country is most often the last stages of a long policy of interventionism and internal manipulation. Non-interventionism begins with the first stages of attempted manipulation. From the National Endowment for Democracy, a thirty year plus neo-con regime change piggy bank, to cut-out funding of NGOs by USAID, who endeavor to influence elections overseas or to undermine governments who do not do as they are told, interventionism is at its core a violation of the golden rule and as such is to be resisted from its very conception. No more color revolutions in Ukraine, Iran, Moldova, Georgia, Venezuela, and so on. The track record is a disaster. And it is immoral. We must do better.
More on the press conference soon, but in the meantime you can now follow the Institute on Twitter @RonPaulInstitut and on Facebook as well.
Daniel McAdams is Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute.