Ralph Benko

Who stands in opposition to “the [central] bank of the United States, public debt, a navy, a standing army, American manufacturing, federally funded improvement of the interior, the role of a world power, military glory, an extensive foreign ministry, loose construction of the Constitution, and subordination of the states to the federal government”? Hint, these words were not written about Rep. Ron Paul.

This is Garry Wills’s description of Thomas Jefferson. The elite political class looked with disdain, and now looks with a certain measure of bemusement, upon Dr. Paul. Paul represents the re-emergence of a great American tradition. That tradition reawakens in the person of Ron Paul, who has a fair claim to be our era’s Thomas Jefferson. As Jefferson’s heir he commands deep respect if not always (as in the case of this Supply Side, Hamiltonian, writer) complete fealty.

One of the keys to America’s greatness is how George Washington was able to harness both the great centralizing, industrializing forces represented by Alexander Hamilton together with the great decentralizing, Arcadian forces represented by Thomas Jefferson. Hamilton’s positions prevailed, tilting America toward a stronger central government. Jefferson, affectionately enshrined in our national memory, has a Memorial. As for Hamilton, “Reader, if you seek his monument, look around you.”

The Hamiltonian version of America is ascendant. Yet the Jeffersonian streak of subsidiarity lives on, is essential to America’s identity and greatness, and is a rising force. It has found its most powerful exponent since, at least, Goldwater in the person of Ron Paul.

Thomas Jefferson’s agenda including eliminating the national bank, reducing the military, and dismantling the federal taxation system. These are at the heart of Ron Paul’s agenda.

Jefferson was a courageous radical. His anti-(federal)-government convictions often are indistinguishable from those of Dr. Paul. Dr. Paul unabashedly went to bat for secession after Gov. Perry came under fire for rhetorically toying with that. Jefferson’s anonymous co-authorship of the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions is in many ways the charter text on the primacy of states rights.

Jefferson envisaged America becoming the world’s great “empire of liberty. ” On departing the presidency he wrote:

“Trusted with the destinies of this solitary republic of the world, the only monument of human rights, and the sole depository of the sacred fire of freedom and self-government, from hence it is to be lighted up in other regions of the earth, if other regions of the earth shall ever become susceptible of its benign influence.”


Ralph Benko

Ralph Benko, author of The Websters’ Dictionary: How to use the Web to transform the world. He serves as an advisor to and editor of the Lehrman Institute's thegoldstandardnow.org and senior advisor to the American Principles Project.