It would be difficult to exaggerate Professor Murray N. Rothbard's influence on the movement for freedom and free markets. He is the living giant of Austrian economics, and he has led the now-formidable movement ever since the death of his great teacher, Ludwig von Mises, in 1971. We are all indebted to him for the living link he has provided to Mises, upon whose work he has built and expanded. But many are less aware of Rothbard's political influence. Some would say that while he is undoubtedly an excellent economist, his political efforts have been less than successful. I would deny this.
Rothbard is the founder of the modern libertarian movement, and of the Libertarian Party which is its political incarnation, and he thus has built the necessary foundation for liberty by inspiring the most important third-party movement ever. And in my own political work, I have been profoundly influenced by the lucid and brilliant works of Rothbard. In his first correspondence with me after I was elected to office, Rothbard expressed surprise and delight to find a real Congressman who wrote that "taxation is theft," and approvingly quoted his article, "Gold vs. Fluctuating Exchange Rates." I, of course, was thrilled to hear from someone whose works I had studied and admired for so many years.
The aura that has traditionally surrounded American politics in this century has turned to suspicion during the past decade. The scandals of Watergate (and, let us hope, Iran-Contragate as well) convinced the public, for a time, that it is naive to trust any mainstream politician. Rothbard was delighted with the whole event, saying in 1979 that, "it is Watergate that gives us the greatest single hope for the short-run victory of liberty in America. For Watergate, as politicians have been warning us ever since, destroyed the public's 'faith in government' — and it was high time, too. "Rothbard rejoices, saying, "government itself has been largely desanctified in America."