Ron Paul Gets Some Respectby Doug Mataconis
As polls track the public’s disaffection, political strategists are on alert for a third-party movement. Paulites insist their man can win the Republican nomination, though he has gone from zero to just 2% in polls. If he can’t, their fervor suggests they would push him to run independently. But having run as a Libertarian in 1988, when he took just 0.47% of the vote, Mr. Paul has discouraged such speculation.
The Web “is redefining what a grass-roots campaign looks like,” says Mr. Morey, the computer engineer. More than other candidates’ fans, Paul supporters take matters into their own hands, planning events and raising money in a decentralized process that parallels Mr. Paul’s vision of what government should be. Aside from his own Web site, there are free-lancers’ DailyPaul.com and RonPaulLibrary.org (“the world’s largest collection of writings by Ron Paul”), among others, MySpace “friends” groups and YouTube video-sharing.
It has meant $3 million to Mr. Paul, making him fourth among eight Republicans in fund raising and first among the five dark horses in cash on hand. But the netroots’ bottom-up energy poses challenges, too, for a campaign trying to channel if not control it. “We’re running a campaign, and we’d like to think we know what we’re doing,” says deputy campaign manager Joe Seehusen. “And then there’s this thing called the Internet, and that has a life of its own.”
There’s just one thing missing from the Journal’s article, and that’s any significant coverage of the ideas that Ron Paul talks about. In more than one sense, I would submit that those ideas are more important than the success of his campaign. This, however, seems consistent with the fact that support for the campaign itself seems to be mirroring the personality-based support for the campaigns of men like Theodore Roosevelt in 1912 and Ross Perot in 1992, neither of which succeeded in winning and neither of which succeeded in creating any lasting movement.
As nice as it would be to live in a world where it was possible, given the odds, Ron Paul isn’t going to be President. At the rate things are going, we’ll be lucky if the person taking the Oath of Office on January 20, 2009 is someone who actually believes in the free market.
But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things that can be done to advance freedom. I addressed some of them in my open letter to Ron Paul’s supporters back in July, but I’m sure that someone else can come up with even more ideas.