U.S. Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) shakes hands with fellow members of the Texas delegation during the second session of the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida August 28, 2012 (Photo : Reuters)
Ron Paul, the bombastic Republican congressman from Texas, whose libertarian leanings nearly resulted in a revolt in the party by his presidential campaign supporters, gave his farewell address to Congress on Wednesday.
Paul declined to run for his congressional seat this year, instead focusing on his ultimately-failed run for the Republican nomination for president.
Paul lost to the eventual nominee, Mitt Romney, and he rejected calls to run as a third-party candidate.
He is the main opposition voice within the party, tirelessly decrying government spending, business regulation, financial consolidation and aggressive foreign policy.
These views have made him a darling of the Tea Party, as well as independent libertarians and many dovish Democrats, who are unhappy with the Obama administration's half-hearted attempts to reign in the banks and financiers responsible for the stock market crash and resulting recession.
In his address on Wednesday, Paul was bleak in his outlook.
"Our Constitution, which was intended to limit government power and abuse, has failed," he said.
"The Founders warned that a free society depends on a virtuous and moral people. The current crisis reflects that their concerns were justified."
That crisis, according to Paul, is overreaching government power.
"If it's not accepted that big government, fiat money, ignoring liberty, central economic planning, welfarism, and warfarism caused our crisis, we can expect a continuous and dangerous march toward corporatism and even fascism with even more loss of our liberties," he said.
Paul look back on his own career was also grim.
"In many ways, according to conventional wisdom, my off-and-on career in Congress, from 1976 to 2012, accomplished very little," he said.
"No named legislation, no named federal buildings or highways, thank goodness. In spite of my efforts, the government has grown exponentially, taxes remain excessive, and the prolific increase of incomprehensible regulations continues. Wars are constant and pursued without congressional declaration."
Paul will step down from his seat in the House of Representatives at the end of the year, allowing him to avoid most of the chaos surrounding negotiations about the fiscal cliff, not that he would have been much help.
He said there is essentially no chance for Republicans and Democrats to come to an agreement that will stick.
"I think there will be something, but it will be very temporary, it won't be long lasting and restore confidence and fix the problem," said Paul.
"But there will be some type of reconciliation of saying we'll do this and a little of that and it may even help the financial markets for a little while, but since it won't solve the problems it will only be temporary."