Ron Paul's Long Tail

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The Pareto
principle
, also known as the “80–20 rule,” is a business
model that holds that 80% of a company’s business comes from 20%
of its customers, or that 80% of its revenues come from 20% of its
products. In the Web 2.0 world, this model has been largely supplanted
by The Long
Tail
, graphically depicted in yellow below:


Picture
by Hay Kranen/PD

The portion
shaded yellow represents the many diverse elements that make up
business for a particular company. Elements that may be insignificant
in of themselves gain significance when taken as a whole.

The Internet
abounds with examples of the Long Tail at work. For example, most
of the revenue for Amazon.com comes not from best-sellers but from
more unique, specialty titles. Most of iTunes.com downloads are
not for hits, but for more obscure songs. In recent years, print
newspapers were undercut by smaller, niche-market, on-line upstarts,
which were in turn undercut by blogs. Attempts by newspapers to
emulate the competition and establish blogs have not had promising
returns.

The Pareto
principle seems to be the old paradigm in politics as well. A small
number of candidates in a given party account for most of the attention
given by the media. In turn, these candidates tend to play to the
middle, trying to reach a wide range of votes by appealing to what
are thought to be middle-of-the-road positions that won’t rock the
boat either way. Hillary, Giuliani, and Romney represent this paradigm.
Likewise, Fred Thompson has no substance, only image, and appeals
to the Pareto principle. Obama and Edwards appealed to it as well,
but as they are eclipsed by Hillary, they are looking to the Long
Tail for support.

Other candidates
are and always were Long Tail candidates. The Democrats have produced
two who are right about the war. Kucinich has put forth papers of
impeachment of the vice-president. Gravel has called his party’s
top-tier candidates unqualified to serve as president for their
lack of moral judgment in voting to enable the war. Yet the former’s
call for welfare statism and the latter’s hints at world government
will leave many, if not most, in the Long Tail cold.

Ron Paul is
the one candidate able to unite the diverse elements in the Long
Tail. His supporters range from strippers to evangelicals, from
gun-totters to peaceniks, and yet his message is as mainstream as
the Constitution. His libertarianism and federalism will drive crazy
the busy-bodies on the left and the right who want to impose their
vision on the rest of the country, but these same laissez-faire
ideals will unite those in the Long Tail who simply want the
federal government out of their lives. This is the key to Ron Paul’s
diverse range of supporters, and why they don’t mind spending time
together under the good doctor’s big tent.

But
his appeal is to mainstream America as well. What could be more
American than the Constitution? Attempts to discredit Ron Paul as
an extremist have largely failed, and his popularity is growing,
the media are giving him a fair shake, and other candidates are
aping him. However, attempts by the so-called “top-tier” candidates
to emulate his strategy have been as unsuccessful as big media’s
attempts at blogging. Ron Paul’s Long Tail will propel him to victory.

Acknowledgment:
This essay was inspired by a presentation by the author’s student,
Choi Jae Yong.

November
13, 2007

An American
Catholic son-in-law of Korea, Joshua Snyder [send
him mail
] lives with his wife and two children in Pohang, where
he serves as an assistant visiting professor of English at a science
and technology university. He blogs at The
Western Confucian
.

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