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 Voteview.com.
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.