Dr. Ron Paul Tightens the Screws — Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Money Bomb

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When the dust cleared, there were over seven million dollars collected and deposited into the Ron Paul campaign coffers, just 5 days into the second month of the quarter. While there was a push sometime past midday, November 5, 2007, to beat Mitt Romney’s one-day fund-raising drive of 3.1 million dollars, there was a huge difference in the result and the methods used. Romney received pledges. Ron Paul received real money — or, as real as they allow us plebes to possess nowadays.

The number reported by the Associated Press was “more than 4.2 million” raised in a single day. Ron Paul Graphs puts it at 4.014 million if you don’t count the offline donations of 326,000 added to the mix just after midnight. Counting those offline donations, the number was 4.3 million. This was an event completely scripted outside campaign officialdom and embraced by his grassroots supporters. It was the largest single-day haul on-line in the history of politics. For those who are discounting the value and strength of Dr. Paul’s grassroots support, this should kill their arguments dead. They may have a chance to salvage their careers. They can start by admitting that only real people with real money can buy an internet connection or a cell-phone.

Press outlets didn’t really know how to handle this historic event. The first old-media outlet to report it found their numbers had already gone stale by hundreds of thousands of dollars by the time they could post their copy. During a late surge, the rate of donations had reached 220,000 dollars per hour.

Folks, neoconservatism is officially dead. Guy Fawkes may have the last laugh after all.

Even at Free Republic, home to the most cartoonish versions of “conservatives” ever assembled on the web, posters who had previously dropped out of sight, came back to revel in the carnage that was the Fifth of November. The thread there starts out with the usual detractors. However, if you can gird your loins past the first couple of pages, it gets real interesting.

Money didn’t talk on what has become known as Guy Fawkes Day. I hate that cliché. Money can’t talk. People voted with their pocket books. The market moved. The most brilliant part of this was not necessarily the choice of days or the efforts by supporters to spread the word but the choice to show in real-time what was happening. Only 17,500 people pledged on the November 5th website. There were double that many who actually participated. The lesson of economics is being taught in real time by the one candidate who speaks that language fluently.

Hear that sound? It’s fear. The screws are being tightened against the limbs of the status quo. Who needs gunpowder when you have the Internet, the Constitution and forty thousand credit cards?

The New York Times, USA Today and CNN jumped on the news bandwagon late in the afternoon with fairly positive stories of the day’s events and the Washington Post reported too but couldn’t do it with a straight face. Come on, how could you report on an event like this without mentioning that some obscure, wrestling porn-star-wannabee posted to a blog in support of Ron Paul? Why, it would be a ‘Dog Bites Man!’ story otherwise.

Reading some of these old-media produced stories can be frustrating. The old media had a chance to tell the story correctly, but generally couldn’t bring themselves to do it. The caption in the NY Times story below Dr. Paul’s scowling picture stated: “Representative Ron Paul’s use of Guy Fawkes Day to encourage donations to his presidential campaign netted millions.”

Ugh. Ron Paul had nothing to do with the event. According to the best old-media article of the day, written by ABC’s Z. Byron Wolf, Trevor Lyman operated the November 5th site collecting pledges but didn’t actually come up with the idea himself. He simply acted on a post he read in one of the Ron Paul meet-up forums. That was October 18th, a mere 3 weeks prior to the historic event.

Here’s another great lesson to be learned from the Austrian school. If you allow a market to self-organize and operate freely, the results can be staggering.

That’s true in more ways than one. The 4.3 million dollar pick-me-up is obviously an end unto itself, but the resulting value of the media’s discussion of what it means, could be worth 5 times that amount. For better or worse, the next week and perhaps even Sunday’s political shows will see the old media covering what has happened and discussing what it means to the future of politics. There’s no getting around that. George “That’s not going to happen” Snuffleufflelgus might learn to talk through his teeth. Those of you with televisions can fill me in Monday.

For fans like myself, watching events unfold was by far the most exciting experience of this campaign thus far but I dare say it will only be a milestone among many. Thomas Woods gets the award for most humorous observation, and the Lew Rockwell team of bloggers gets the “thank God they’re around for people without television” award. I coded up an SMS text messaging router today with the donation counter on one screen and the Lew Rockwell blog just behind it. I can’t imagine that I was alone. New Media articles were too numerous to read and started showing up just prior to the clock’s race toward midnight.

The truly exciting result of this day will be the number of fence-sitters and “leaners” who jump on the bandwagon. Politics is generally a wait and see affair. Rasmussen has reported that a full 60% of the Iowa Straw Poll voters said they could envision changing their minds before the Iowa Caucuses:

However, the race in Iowa is very fluid. For each of the top four candidates, between 57% and 61% of their supporters say they might change their mind before the caucus is held.

That didn’t get reported much, if at all. Ron Paul’s two biggest hurdles now are name recognition and skepticism. The skepticism is normal. A significant number of people have been waiting to see if Ron Paul really has a chance. Well….I think we’ve seen that myth blown apart today by a money bomb. The name recognition will commence to increase but don’t expect that the old media will be reporting any poll number jumps. It may just be that the Paul campaign mirrors Kerry’s who polled at 4% nationally before winning New Hampshire and Iowa.

Bombs away…..

Rick Fisk [send him mail] is a 45-year-old software developer and entrepreneur. He is married, has 3 children and resides in Austin, TX.

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