Ron Paul’s “Rally for the Republic” in St. Paul, Minnesota

Economically speaking, the Democratic and Republican conventions were exercises in massive self-delusion. Barack Obama and his party acolytes bragged about how they would spend money we don’t have (we’re $10 trillion in the hole, by the way), and McCain and the Republicans promised to balance the budget, strengthen the dollar, and close the $70 trillion Medicare/Social Security shortfall, all without a tax hike or fundamental changes to the monetary system.

Yeah, right.

Neither party talked about the Federal Reserve. The “debate,” if it can be called that, is between a top tax rate of 39.5% (Obama) or 35% (McCain). On economic matters, there is considerably more agreement between the two, supposedly competing American political parties than between factions within the Communist Party of China – and the ChiComms are considerably more economically literate, too.

But ten miles down the road from the Republican Party’s Orwellian big-government love fest, Ron Paul’s Rally for the Republic drew more than 10,000 economically educated patriots, who stood and cheered at the mention of the “Austrian theory of the business cycle,” and repeatedly broke out into impromptu chants of “End the Fed!” Imagine asking John McCain what he thought of the Austrian theory – “we might as well be speaking Chinese,” said author and historian Thomas Woods.

The speakers at Ron Paul’s Rally were a little more diverse than those at the GOP’s official convention, from which Paul – a Republican congressman – was banned. There were arch-conservatives such as Howard Phillips, the founder of Constitution Party, and John McManus, president of the John Birch Society; there were “paleolibertarians” such as Lew Rockwell and the aforementioned Thomas Woods, both of the Ludwig von Mises Institute; and there were fairly mainstream Republicans, such as former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and a pair of former Reagan aides, who have come to believe that their party has been hijacked by a dangerous cabal known as the neocons. Oh, and there was the unpigeonholeable Jesse “The Mind” Ventura, who railed against the two-party system for giving us our national debt and also floated some questions about 9/11.

Yes, it was a bit of a motley crew assembled in St. Paul, but that’s what’s great about America: it’s not the land of the lame and home of the homogeneous but the land and home of the free and brave. The conformist conventions of the duopoly, with all of their rules and restrictions, represent an America I don’t want to visit, let alone live in. But if you want diversity, look to the Ron Paul movement: there are pro-lifers and pro-choicers. There are Christian fundamentalists and gay-rights activists. There are border hawks and free-immigration libertarians.

What the heck could unite all these people?

The answer: a sound understanding of economic reality. The Paul crowd is not agitating for an income tax of 35% or even 25% but zero percent. Why? Because they know that the power to tax is the power to destroy. And they don’t pay lip service to “strengthening the dollar” without specific proposals; they know what must be done: the Fed must go the way of Enron, for it is just as corrupt and infinitely more destructive; and gold must be restored to its proper status as monetary base.

Sure, there are “mainstream” economists who would debate these radical proposals. But at the Democratic and Republican national conventions, there was no debate. Four and a half percentage points cannot possibly distinguish a “conservative” from a “liberal” if those terms are to have any meaning. And that the banking and currency system of the U.S. is above reproach – even in light of the recent bubbles, busts, and bailouts – is a black mark against American “democracy.”

A hundred years ago, the people of America were smart enough to debate economic issues. William Jennings Bryan built an entire presidential campaign on silver coinage. The Rally for the Republic showed the American people are still smart enough to consider issues of money and banking.

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