After 23 years in office, Republican Rep. Ron Paul of Texas delivered his final speech to Congress on Wednesday.

The libertarian-leaning congressman has gained an enthusiastic following for his strong views on limited government, Austrian economics and non-interventionist foreign policy. During his final speech, Paul lamented that he had achieved little of what he set out to do in Congress: reign in excessive government and stop unconstitutional wars of aggression.

"I have thought a lot about why those of us who believe in liberty, as a solution, have done so poorly in convincing others of its benefits," he said on the House floor. "If liberty is what we claim it is -- the principle that protects all personal, social and economic decisions necessary for maximum prosperity and the best chance for peace -- it should be an easy sell. Yet, history has shown that the masses have been quite receptive to the promises of authoritarians which are rarely if ever fulfilled."

Paul also predictably attacked the "redistribution of wealth by government" and Keynesian economics, along with the Federal Reserve. He alleged that American wealth "today depends on debt."

While much of Paul's speech was devoted to economic issues, he also warned of the "continuous attack on our civil liberties" and the aggressive use of military power by the United States.

The Texas congressman said "promoting a virtuous society" was key to reforming the government. He noted that during the Republican presidential primary race, he was booed for saying the United States should not "do to other nations what we don’t want them to do to us."

"A society that boos or ridicules the Golden Rule is not a moral society," Paul remarked. "All great religions endorse the Golden Rule. The same moral standards that individuals are required to follow should apply to all government officials. They cannot be exempt."

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[Image via Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons licensed]