The Ron Paul Revolution: A Lesson in Free Market Economics


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