Yesterday I turned 50. Time flies when youre having fun.
For the last 30-plus years — my entire adult life — Ive worked in politics. That might not seem like much fun. Politics is a constant struggle, a slog. But working for freedom — in one crusade or another — has been both fulfilling and fun.
Maybe its because, as a friend once accused, Im a pathological optimist. Maybe its a whole lot more than that.
Ive worked through nights, bleary-eyed, peering at voter registration lists. Ive circulated petitions in 100-degree heat and freezing temperatures. Ive been vilified in the press, as well as lionized. Ive been both hounded and praised. Ive been imprisoned, and threatened with more of the same.
What was I thinking?
I guess I thought, and indeed still think, that we are called upon to do what we believe is right — come what may. Freedom isnt free. As much as I love words, actions speak much louder.
Its been hard sometimes. I was in prison for five and a half months when my oldest was only a year old. I was there for refusing to register for the draft.
What was I thinking?
In the words of then-presidential candidate Ronald Reagan, I thought: The draft or draft registration destroys the very values our society is committed to defending. I could not stand idly by while those cherished values were destroyed, nor certainly be any party to it.
My re-education in federal custody fortunately didnt take. And the road I took has made all the difference.
For instance, I met Ron Paul when, as a slightly younger congressman, he testified at my trial. Three years later, in 1988, I nominated him to run for president on the Libertarian Party ticket.
At a meeting in April of that year, the task of putting Congressman Paul on the ballot for president was handed to me. The next morning I was awakened by a phone call at home — at 6:00 am. And for the next six months the phone never stopped ringing.
I remember my wife calling me at the office to tell me our new home phone number — and urging me not to give it out to people! Shes a lot smarter than I am.
Working with wonderful people across the country, we successfully placed Ron on the ballot in 47 states and the District of Columbia. And Guam. Believe me, it took a lot of hours, daylight and late night.