The Ron Paul Revolution: A Lesson in Free Market Economics

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They say Ron
Paul is skinny because he won’t let special interests buy him
lunch. While this may be true, the grassroots campaign is incredibly
fat with the volunteer efforts and contributions from Ron Paul Revolution
foot soldiers who are taking the movement to the street. This grassroots
movement has sprung up partially due to the fact that Ron Paul’s
National Campaign initially had significantly less money than their
corporately-funded opponents. However, is it possible that this
lack of funds has actually been a blessing in disguise?

Necessity is
the mother of invention, and there seems to be no end in sight to
the inventions being created on a daily basis by individual Ron
Paul supporters. These creations range from professional quality
banners, signs, flyers and posters, to eloquently written articles
across the web, and in local newspapers. On a micro level, the grassroots
campaign efforts are a demonstration of the unregulated, free-market
forces that Ron Paul espouses. A simple internet search will reveal
a number of websites that are designed, hosted and paid for by individual
Ron Paul supporters. These websites contain everything from news
articles to video clips to products. Nearly all of this content
is created or contributed by individual supporters. Need a t-shirt?
Currently, there are dozens of different t-shirt designs produced
by independent people. In addition, you can find stamps, buttons,
bracelets, commemorative coins and even pizza-delivery-style illuminated
car toppers. All of this in response to a huge demand in the marketplace,
with innovative Ron Paul supporters rising up to meet it.

There has been
no external oversight committee or price controls. There have been
no marching orders from a central location. Supply and demand has
taken over. The best products are passed along word of mouth through
a decentralized web of email addresses and social networking sites.
Local Meetups in various parts of the country are all passing out
some of the same materials, no prompting necessary. It’s called
“emergence.”

It is also
an example of the open-source trend that seems to be emerging on
the web. Different people from across the country are sharing their
creative content for free in many cases. Reproducible files for
business cards and banners are posted for download. DVD content
is freely distributed for copying.

All of the
financial resources and personal effort expended by the “Paulites”
has not eroded the National Campaign’s ability to raise funds,
either. Though they started with almost nothing when he announced
his candidacy, the National Campaign recently raised more money
than the entire GOP at the Texas Straw Poll. In San Francisco, Ron
Paul spoke at three sold out fundraising events, with $500–$2,000
admission prices. Thousands of dollars were contributed in the Meetup
Fundraising Contest held last month. The grassroots effort is contributing
money and materials through every avenue available, and it is growing
every week.

It has been
estimated that the value of the man-hours and energy being put into
the campaign on a local level by individual supporters is in excess
of $10 million per quarter. This is excluding contributions made
directly to the campaign. This catapults Ron Paul’s real campaign
war chest into the same stratosphere currently inhabited by only
Clinton, Romney and Giuliani. Can anyone say “first-tier candidate?”

The grassroots
movement has no written constitution, but has proven to be self-legislating
when it comes to handling schisms and in-fighting that has periodically
surfaced concerning tangent issues. An unwritten code has been almost
unanimously accepted. Focus on the issues that Ron Paul is focusing
on. Present Ron Paul’s public position papers and debate responses.
Don’t get sidetracked on issues he has not specifically addressed.

The National
Campaign has made suggestions and given some guidance to local groups,
but there have been very few national conference calls. There has
been little “damage control” necessary. It’s as if
there are hundreds of sovereign “states” with thousands
of individual citizens, and a “federal government” that
has exercised a few limited powers, but is otherwise leaving things
to the people. Sound familiar?

The truth is
that the other candidates wish they could manufacture what is happening
organically in the Ron Paul revolution in their own campaigns. They
wish they could get thousands of individuals to sacrifice their
money and their time, to contribute their creative energy and vision,
to get their name out in front of the masses. But they can’t.

The Ron Paul
Revolution may end up being one of the great contemporary examples
of the free market in action. It promotes personal sovereignty,
and keeps power concentrated at the local level. It rewards creativity
and excellence, and creates stability and diversity in the marketplace.

Imagine that.
The Founding Fathers may have been onto something after all.

September
19, 2007

Jason Rink
[send him mail] has
dropped out of numerous institutions of higher learning, and holds
no degrees or academic designations of note. Feel free to check
out his blog.

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