Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Ron Paul
Phenomenon, Part 2:

Is It For Real?

by Hummmbert
The second of three parts.

Ron Paul, the libertarian Texas congressman who's running in the Republican Party primary for president has support. Enthusiastic crowds, good showings in poll after poll taken on the Internet or tabulated by call-in voters, and a rapidly escalating fund-raising ability all are signs of a candidate with support. Yet, questions remain for the popular Dr. Paul from a variety of critics, both on the left and right, that his support consists of a small band of rabid supporters.

Is this criticism fair? Is it accurate, as critics insist? Or, is it a fear that the signs of Paul's support are the harbingers of headaches to come for both parties?
Even a half hour after Ron Paul's "Revolution" rally ended in downtown Manchester, there was a crowd larger than other candidates could only hope to draw. The campaign estimated that as many as 800 people showed up as the Texas congressman kicked off a canvassing effort in New Hampshire's three largest cities.

The campaign gave out buttons asking: "Who is Ron Paul?" But who are Ron Paul's supporters? "I think they're new to the process," said Paul's son, Rand Paul. "We definitely have Democrats that are crossing over, Libertarians crossing over, Independents crossing over. And I think the people that come out are definitely gonna vote."
Almost 43 million results. That's what one gets when the term "Ron Paul" is Googled. 43 million is an awful lot of results for one term; by comparison, "War on Terror" draws 53 million. A lot is being written about Ron Paul, both for and against.

Sundry reactions from the blogs:
From Rick Fisk at the Dr. No Zone:The media, neoconservatives and some Democrats just don't understand why Ron Paul's supporters are so excited, dedicated and diverse. At the most recent PBS debate in Baltimore, the camera panned to catch the first African-American female fighter pilot in U.S. history applauding enthusiastically when Dr. Paul suggested we should bring the troops home from Iraq and every other country they currently occupy.
The support appears to be from both sides of the political spectrum. A sample from the Right.
From Andrew Sullivan in Daily Dish:
A reader writes:
Actually, everyone under 40 is not voting for Obama. I live in Austin, Texas, and your reader's email about support for Hillary in Sugar Land prompted me to write to you.

I consider myself far-left, and am having serious difficulty choosing between Edwards and Obama, as are many of my far-left friends. But what's even more shocking to me is the amount of support for Ron Paul among liberals in this town. I see it daily: the bumper stickers, the t-shirts. Among some of my friends, but mostly at my school. I'm an older (30) undergraduate attending a private, Catholic institution here in Austin (but being Austin, the fact that the school is Catholic doesn't mean it's conservative - far from it!), and the kids there are crazy about Ron Paul. He's everywhere.
Some of it may be discounted because Austin is in Paul's home state of Texas, but that city is far from representative of the Texas state-of-mind. So it seems to be cutting across the traditional liberal/conservative lines. More enthusiasm for Ron Paul.

A sample from the Left:
Well, I had a sample from the Left. I went over to retrieve a story from TheDailyKOS, "Why You Should Support Ron Paul", but it seems to have been 'misplaced', as so many stories over there do. KOS did show 183 comments tagged to it, though.So, a sample of Paul support from the paleo-conservatives was needed.
From Liberty Papers, where they examine whether Paul should accept matching funds and the tilt of Lew Rockwell's site:
There have been a few articles over at Lew Rockwell’s blog on the question of whether Ron Paul should accept federal matching funds (i.e., tax dollars taken from people who might not necessarily support his campaign) in his run for the White House. Not surprisingly given the pro-Paul tilt of that website, they seem to think its all okey-dokey.
One sure sign of growing support is when sub-groups are formed from larger interest groups. Such as "Jews for Ron Paul".
From Free Market News:Jews for Ron Paul is offering for a sale line of easy-to-wear T-shirts and maybe yarmulkes (skull caps) in support of GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-Tex) - who has himself reportedly posed in one with the message 'Ron Paul '08' in Hebrew. The T-shirts for sale can be seen here: Jews4RonPaul

The sale of T-shirts, and indeed the establishment of Jews for Ron Paul itself has taken place amidst some controversy. Especially upset, according to sources close to Jews for Ron Paul, are white "supremacist" groups. Supporters of such groups have apparently taken to emailing Jews for Ron Paul claiming that Ron Paul would never tolerate such a group and that his formal or informal support for "Jews for Ron Paul" must be an invention.

Bur Jews for Ron Paul is real, as, apparently, is Ron Paul's support. Said one supporter of Jews for Ron Paul: "Ron Paul doesn't have a racist bone in his body. His differences with Israel and the American Israel lobby have to do with funding that country - and its political leaders and war machine - with billions of American dollars."
There are also "Students for Ron Paul" and "Gun Owners for Ron Paul".

Many polls have been taken; many more are yet to come. How accurately do the various polls taken measure the Ron Paul support? An attempt to answer that question comes from Truth Mason:
There has been much debate around the relevance of pre-election poll results. When it comes to Ron Paul the 'scientific' polls have generally reported him at or below 5%, but online polls have told a different story. On many online / text-message polls Ron Paul is clearly in the top three. The problem with all of these online polls is that the voters are 'self-selecting'. Ron Paul's supporters organize entire websites that link to polls to vote in. This only serves to prove that the Ron Paul supporters are much more motivated and organized. Likewise, the 'scientific' polls only serve to prove that among those that are registered republicans and take time to respond to unsolicited phone calls, only a small percentage have heard of Ron Paul.
Polls taken by national pollsters, with little chance by supporters to influence results have consistently shown two results: one, that Ron Paul is usually in fifth or sixth place in the Republican primary race; and two, that Paul's support seems to be steadily, if slowly, growing. Most of the other candidate's support ebbs and flows with each poll. Are Paul supporters being censored as some allege? Stories abound from outraged Paul supporters of pro-Paul stories and results being deleted from sources such as CNN, YahooNews, MySpace and the above-mentioned DailyKOS. I could find no references to any anti-Paul stories being deleted. Of course, the group complaining about those types of occurences would be much smaller.

Is Ron Paul's support for real? It certainly is enthusiastic and growing; there's no denying that. Will it carry Paul to the Presidency? His supporters think so. One reason polls and fund-raising garner so much attention at this stage of the campaign is that they are the only two measurable items at this juncture. Paul's been able to raise money lately: that's one sign of support. His poll numbers, while small, are getting bigger. That's another positive sign.

A quote from Samuel Adams adorns the top of the "Ron Paul for President 2008" website. It might do well to keep it in mind. It serves as an inspiration to the thousands of Ron Paul supporters. It might also serve as a warning to the honchos in the two main political parties.

"It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen to set brushfires in people's minds".


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