Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now!
by James Ostrowski by James Ostrowski
Ron’s Paul’s announcement of his third-quarter fundraising was a major turning point in the campaign. It was the first time he received coverage from the mainstream media befitting a contender.
I just have a few small quibbles and not out of orneriness or ingratitude at the fine coverage.
The MSM actually understated the significance of this accomplishment.
First, the money was raised by a candidate the MSM had given no chance to win and little coverage. Much of the coverage was derisive or dismissive. His poll numbers were in the single digits. Ron Paul supporters evidently don’t care much about today’s poll numbers or MSM conventional wisdom. The Ron Paul Revolution is, among other things, a revolution against the MSM! The Revolution has used the MSM’s rival, the internet, to force its way into contention. This is the first presidential campaign where the internet has been a decisive factor, not just a sideshow.
Second, while money is the heart of the campaigns of the other contenders, official money is the lesser part of the Ron Paul campaign. The heart of Ron Paul’s campaign is a spontaneous, grassroots eruption of real world and virtual activism. This is simply nonexistent with Rudy’s campaign, for example. There is no grassroots Rudy campaign. I would know. I live in the second largest city in his home state and am a close observer of local politics. It just isn’t there.
As has been noted in various places on the web in recent days, the total economic value of the efforts on behalf of Ron Paul is far greater than reflected in his campaign spending. He has 50 paid staffers but tens of thousands of hardcore volunteers spending their own money. I spoke to a volunteer in Albany the other day. He said there were "only" 150 Ron Paul volunteers in Albany. Only 150 in one small city? Other campaigns would kill for that.
Third, it’s a mistake to compare contributions to Ron Paul with contributions to Rudy. Rudy collects large donations from the usual suspects, the corporate state elite, rich people who wish to buy political influence. They want something specific and tangible for their money: a judgeship, a subsidy, a pardon, an ambassadorship. In Buffalo, his fundraiser was hosted by a man who did the same for George Bush and coincidentally got an ambassadorship to Malta. A tough job but somebody has to do it.
Those who give to Ron Paul do so mainly out of pure principle. While his supporters expect to benefit from his election, it’s not a specific tangible benefit at the expense of others. On the contrary, they expect an improvement in the general welfare of which they will partake. Concern for the general welfare has rarely provided the basis for substantial political fundraising. Political scientists tell us that people generally do not get heavily involved in politics unless they expect to materially benefit above and beyond the general public. Ron Paul is defying a law of politics known as rational apathy.
Fourth, the average donation to Rudy is many times higher than Ron Paul’s. This means that far more people stand behind those Ron Paul dollars. As the campaign goes on, they can continue to donate while many of Rudy’s influence buyers have maxed out. Also, there’s just more of us plain folk than fat cats, once again pointing to more room for growth for Ron Paul.
The MSM deserves credit for finally noticing the Ron Paul Revolution but they have barely begun to grasp its true strength. Nevertheless, this burst of publicity will generate even more contributions, boost poll numbers, and encourage more volunteers, which in turn will stimulate more publicity. I think the best metaphor for the campaign now is a nuclear chain reaction. That’s why this may be an appropriate campaign theme song:
October 8, 2007
James Ostrowski is an attorney in Buffalo, New York and author of Political Class Dismissed: Essays Against Politics, Including "What’s Wrong With Buffalo." See his website.