Ron Paul Leaves Congress as One of the Most Conservative Members Since...

Ron Paul Leaves Congress as One of the Most Conservative Members Since 1976


Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), libertarian hero and constitutionalist congressman, will end the last term of his political career as the number two conservative in the House of Representatives behind Jeff Flake (R-AZ), according to a ranking system of all members of congress created by two political science professors.

The “DW-Nominate” ranking system, created by University of Georgia political science professor Keith Poole and New York University professor Howard Rosenthal, ranks all 636 legislators in the House and the Senate and is available on

According to the rankings, Paul held the number one spot for multiple years, despite being behind Flake in recent ones.

When he first won a special election in 1976 to the 94th Congress, Congressman Paul immediately became the most conservative member in the House, according to the ranking system.

While Paul lost re-election to the House in the next Congress, by the 96th Congress Paul won his House seat back and was ranked the number one conservative for three consecutive congresses, which lasted from January 3, 1979 to January 3, 1985.

No later than 1987, Paul, at odds with the Reagan administration’s and the Republican Party’s profligate spending ways, wrote a letter of resignation to the then-RNC Chair Frank Fahrenkopf expressing his reasons for leaving the Grand Old Party, before going on to join the Libertarian Party and eventually becoming its nominee for president in 1988.

The letter displayed his commitment to conservative, limited government ideals, even at the expense of leaving the Republican Party to advance them.

In the letter, he began by expressing his high hopes for the Reagan administration–but then sharply criticized Reagan. He told a story of how Republicans, far from critiquing Ronald Reagan for his un-conservative spending ways, actually began in some ways to defend big government.

“In 1976 I was impressed with Ronald Reagan’s program and was one of the four members of Congress who endorsed his candidacy,” he wrote.

“Since 1981, however, I have gradually and steadily grown weary of the Republican Party’s efforts to reduce the size of the federal government,” he continued.

“Since then Ronald Reagan and the Republican Party have given us skyrocketing deficits, and astoundingly a doubled national debt. How is it that the party of balanced budgets, with control of the White House and Senate, accumulated red ink greater than all previous administrations put together? Tip O’Neill, although part of the problem, cannot alone be blamed,” Paul wrote.

Paul said of Republicans at the time that although they “rightly chastised Carter for his $38 billion deficit…they ignore or even defend deficits of $220 billion, as government spending has grown 10.4 percent per year since Reagan took office.”

In the letter, Paul did not call Reagan’s economic plan “conservative,” as Reagan is claimed to be and is remembered as, but instead called “Reaganomics” “warmed-over Keynesianism,” referring to the economic philosophy inspired by the 20th century economist John Maynard Keynes which basically maintains that budget deficits and publicly-directed spending are the way to economic recovery, and that it’s the government’s job to smooth out the business cycle.

He blasted Reagan’s famous 1986 tax reform as giving more power to the IRS, and called Reagan out for raising taxes. He ended the letter by saying that Republicans have expanded the “worst aspects” of the “Democratic agenda” and called them their own, and suggested that the Republican party had zero credibility “as a force to reduce the size of government.”

By the late 1990s, Paul re-entered politics as a Republican after his first presidential run for the Libertarian Party and has been in Congress ever since.

Just as he entered politics as the number one conservative (according to the ranking system), he re-entered politics as the most conservative politician in the House of Representatives and maintained that position from the 105th Congress (beginning January 1997) to the 106th Congress (ending on January 3, 2001).

From the 107th Congress onward, Paul ranked as the second most conservative House member, according to the list, behind Jeff Flake.

His son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a possible entrant into the 2016 presidential races, is currently ranked as the most conservative politician in the United States Senate.


  1. Dr. Ron Paul is not only one of the most conservative, but also one of the most consistent and principled leaders we have today. Although he will be missed fighting for us in Congress, he will continue to inspire the minds of young people in colleges and across the country bringing back the ideas of Liberty. He has already inspired several new members in Congress like Amash, Massie, Yoho, and Bentivolio. Hopefully more like Cruz in the Senate will continue the path that Dr. Ron Paul has started.

  2. I got to hear Dr. Paul speak at the University of Northern Iowa. It was the best speech I have ever heard. I read his books in 2010 and I have read more books about the economy and political philosophy in the past two years then I had in the previous 10. He is truly an inspiration to me. I now see the two political parties for what they are: one party on a mission to turn the rest of the United States into a European style society of serfs. One side likes warfare and the other side likes welfare, that is about the only difference between them. No matter which is in charge, spending goes up, immoral wars of aggression persist and freedom is diminished. My only hope is that I can convince as many people as he has about the dangers of our current monetary and foreign policy and the size and ineffectiveness of the government. I had no idea how low our country had sunk until I saw Dr. Paul get booed in a South Carolina debate for suggesting the US use the “FGolden Rule” as a guideline for foreign policy. That was a sad day. We have a President this country recently re-elected that assasinated an American citizen, and his 16 year old son, in Yemen for exercising his right to free speech. He sits there and blatantly states, “..I don’t even have to get to the Constitutional question…” when talking about illegally firing rockets into Lybia with the almighty blessings of NATO. This man not only shouldn’t have been re-elected, he should be in jail.

    • I completely agree with the statements about the political parties. They have not so hidden agendas and neither party truly represents their founding beliefs. I do however fully support the drone strike against Anwar Awlaki. He was a prominent member of Al Qaeda who fled to Yemen to incite violence against the US and its interests. Awlaki radicalized and encouraged individuals to include 9/11 hijackers, Nidal Hassan (Ft Hood Shooter), and the guy who attempted to blow up a plane with his underwear bomb. Although I believe in free speech, I believe Awlaki’s free speech was more an act of treason and President Obama made the right call.

    • Brad. There is no one’s opinion I respect more than yours. Let me make it clear that I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, an Anwar Awlaki fan. His influence and ideology could not be further from what I believe. However, i do believe in due process. I do believe that drone strikes create more enemies then they kill. If the president can have a kill list and can have free reign to send drones to kill whomever he deems a threat to his rule think of what kind of precedence that sets. How long until he is at my doorstep with a drone for disagreeing with him on this?

    • William Bradley Wallace I must repectully dissagree. The issue is not whether Anwar Awlaki was of good guy or not. It is what kind of policy allows anyone to be executed without trial or due process. You cannot pick and choose who has human rights and who does not. This is a recipe for disaster. This is the thinking of a tyrant.

      I have said before regarding our first ammendment right of free speech that I would prefer to live in a country which would allow Hitler to stand on a soap box and say anything he wanted to as long as I have the right to stand on that same soap box to dispute him.

      I do not know who said the quote, but I agree with it, “I may not agree with what you say, but I would defend to the last drop of my blood, your right to say it.”

      This holds true for the entire bill of rights.

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  3. Dr. Ron Paul has been a major inspiration to those of us who have watched his career in the last few years. I joined C4L due to his influence towards defending and supporting the Constitution of the Untied States as well as the Bill of Rights. He will sorely be missed.
    I am not familiar with Cogressman Flake to speak to his position, but I agree that John Boehner and too many of the Republcan members of Congress have appeard to be an offshoot of the Democratic Party when it comes to our liberties. We need more conservative free thinking and acting members to represent our views and beliefs. We need our country back and we need all Americans who want their freedoms kept intact and/or returned to the people. Many of us have seen what socialism is and does in places such as the Communits bloks from the early 1900’s to the present. We were made free by the acts of the leaders of the 1770’s. They may not have had the tools of this day, but they sure had the foresight to what is happening since Lincoln to the present. As I see it the old saying “Power corrupts; Absolute power corrupts absolutely” is so evident today. Those with blinders will be contributors to our failing if they don’t wake up. It’s not Parties that create this condition; it is the people who fail to recognize that they are pawns to an evil effort to destroy those freedoms provided by our Constitution. We did not elect those individuals to represent US to have them become pawns in the political party system for the benefit of big government or the lobbying interests. My experience with politicians is that I know they lie a lot. How? When they move their lips. We need to go back to what was present before Lincoln took office. And I do not mean anything related to slavery, but the rights of citizenry built into that Constitution. It is my hope that this new Congress will have the foresight to elect a Speaker of the House that is for the people and also a Majority Leader that does the same. My recommendation of the Speaker should be like Congressman Paul or Congressman Flake.