Follow the Billboards: The Revolution is Still at Hand

DIGG THIS

Ron Paul finished the 4th quarter of 2007 having raked in over $19.75 million dollars — more than any other GOP candidate and in close proximity to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's numbers.

The only bigger quarter for a Republican during this entire presidential race was a $20.8 million first quarter of 2007 by Mitt Romney. Of course Romney added about $2.4 million of his own money to that number by writing a personal check to his campaign, thus rendering Paul's 4th quarter, traditionally the weakest due to the holidays, the biggest of the year for any GOP candidate. Think about that for a second.

Over half of Paul's astounding total flooded in over the course of a mere two days, in efforts coordinated by unpaid volunteer supporters. The first "money bomb" on November 5, the brainchild of music promoter Trevor Lymon, pulled in $4.3 million from 37,000 individual contributors. On December 16, these same supporters brought some friends and shocked the American political establishment, again, with a second one-day "money bomb" inside of six weeks, this one commemorating the 234th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party.

    Paul Supporters on Lake Austin    

Demonstrating vividly that now-familiar savvy for the alternative media, Paul's supporters in some cities even reenacted the original Boston Tea Party, heaving boxes with labels like "IRAN WAR," "OPEN BORDERS," and "PATRIOT ACT" into bodies of water across the country big enough to represent a harbor.

TeaParty07 crushed the previous one-day fundraising record held by John Kerry with a whopping $6.2 million in donations from 58,000 verifiable individual contributors. The average contribution was $102.

Incredibly, over 24,000 of those individuals had never contributed to a political campaign before.

Despite the closeness of the two records (as marked by fiat dollars), the clear reason that Paul's haul is a solid trouncing of Kerry's is simple: Kerry's record came the day after he secured the nomination in 2004 — too late for him to use that money during the early primaries, such as his still inexplicable win in Iowa over the steamrolling Dean juggernaut.

Paul got his haul at exactly the right time, enabling the campaign to expand their media buys and infrastructure to multiple western states, a direct contrast to the "double-down," short-on-cash attitude of many of his rivals thus far in Iowa and New Hampshire.

This fact, as much as any other, provides a stark reminder of just how much the Ron Paul campaign has so far outperformed expectations.

But for the Ron Paul movement, that's over $10 million in two 24-hour periods and $19.5 million over three months — all from over 130,000 individual contributors. A whopping 100,000 of those contributors were new. Some "fringe" candidate indeed.

But it didn't end there.

The Spark of Revolution Catches Fire

They were spurned and disparaged by the establishment media, as drill-instructed by Fox News, and for months dismissed as a "few dozen" D&D geeks-in-their-parents'-basements "spamming" online and cell phone-text polls. But Paul's supporters have triumphed over what can only be described as an existential challenge to prove their legitimacy in an atmosphere of blatant hostility and a determined blackout.

Witness the resulting self-actualization: By their own accord, Paul supporters paid for full-page ads in USA Today, rented billboards by the dozens in several states, bought ad time in local conservative talk radio markets, leased small planes and helicopters in New Hampshire to drag enormous banners, and perhaps most audaciously, rented a blimp decked out with slogans such as "Google Ron Paul" and the suddenly ubiquitous "RON PAUL REVOLUTION."

All without costing the campaign an inflationary cent.

I'm almost 36 years old. I've been an avid observer of politics since my junior high days, when I was enthralled by Reagan's libertarian rhetoric and was an admirer Alex P. Keaton. I've never seen anything like the Ron Paul movement happen in American political life. As far as I can remember, this type of insurgent, populist uprising — demanding a return to Constitutional government — is unprecedented.

  A Paul supporter gives voice to a common sentiment.      

Yet the reaction by the establishment media to all of this — the record fundraising, the late surge in the polls, and the spontaneous, organic activation from apathy for the most diverse group of supporters in the entire presidential race — has been determinedly subdued or altogether silent.

There was perfunctory coverage of the spectacle of Paul's fundraising numbers, but with little to no commentary about the blatant trend that the numbers and events vividly demonstrated. American politics has forever changed.

Imagine for a moment that leading up to the Iowa caucuses, media darling Mike "Glass Jaw" Huckabee proved, finally, the legitimacy of his poll numbers with a donation infusion even a quarter the size of one of Paul's money bombs. I mean in actual cash, from identifiable, verifiable individuals — not anonymous "scientific" poll respondents that we'll never meet or unsecured blips in an electronic voting machine.

The cable news networks might all spontaneously combust with rippling positivity.

Can you imagine the fawning coverage? Can you just see their reaction if there were such a thing as a Mike Huckabee Blimp, for crying out loud?

Interestingly, in spite of his win in Iowa and his recent success in the "scientific" polls, Mike Huckabee has never had an easy time raising money. He finally broke the $5 million threshold during the 4th quarter. Yet we're supposed to believe that he's the national front-runner and is supported by 25% of Republican voters across the country?

While Huck's first win in Iowa came after Q4 ended, his status as Republican "front-runner" in Iowa lasted for most of December.

Paul's fundraising, by contrast, has more than doubled each quarter of 2007, leading to the early primary contests: $639,889 in the first quarter, $2,357,423 in the second, $5,204,218 in the third, and over $19.75 million in the fourth, and traditionally softest, quarter.

As for the schizophrenic, alternating blackout/smear campaign against Ron Paul's candidacy, it culminated two days before the New Hampshire primary in Fox excluding him from their GOP candidate forum, which was basically a debate without an audience.

Fox abandoned any pretense about objective criteria having determined the participants. They simply couldn't make a consistent, logical argument, so they didn't attempt to. Paul had already trounced Rudy in Iowa, and at the point leading up to the debate in question, he was also ahead of Fred Thompson in New Hampshire by several points, depending on which "scientific" poll you checked.

    New Hampshire Republicans had their choice of warmongering neocons, but the table begged for six.    

Fox could only argue that Paul was slightly behind in national polling, which runs directly counter to the relevance of the state primary in question: the GOP forum was in New Hampshire at Saint Anselm College, two days before the New Hampshire primary, and geared, ostensibly, towards New Hampshire Republican primary voters.

So Fox resorted to their weakest argument — that Paul couldn't fit in their mobile "Fox Box" tractor-trailer studio. In other words, there was only enough room at the desk for five candidates, not six. Far be it from me to argue for the exclusion of any candidate, but if it's truly a question of real estate, shouldn't Fred Thompson be the big loser?

As a somewhat surprising reaction to Fox's refusing to reconsider, the New Hampshire GOP yanked their endorsement of the event. Then Leno had Paul back on The Tonight Show for a second, lengthy, and incredibly sympathetic appearance.

Things for the Paul campaign were gaining steam. Best of all, it seemed a self-inflicted example of "blowback" for the Fox pundits to ponder.

Then during the primary on Tuesday, a well-timed smear attempt emerged: a hack at The New Republic dredged up the same old, now age-old recycled accusations of racism from Paul's former low-circulation, at times ghost-written, newsletters — even though Paul's repeatedly denied authorship when it's come up in past congressional races in Texas. Drudge linked to the story briefly before pulling it down, but the damage might've been done with those undecided voters in New Hampshire.

But the accusations never rang true. If it’s deeply held, foundational belief, as the article suggests, then it should present itself somewhere — anywhere — in Paul's prolific articles, books, and speeches, which are readily available all over the internet, not in ancient hardcopies of low-circulation newsletters that have to be “unearthed” in some obscure library archive. But the tone doesn't match.

Post–New Hampshire

Paul garnered only 8% in New Hampshire, despite spending a lot of money and having a respectable, solid ground game. Although most of his supporters would acknowledge that Paul is still and has always been a long shot for the nomination, I think most of them would also concede that New Hampshire would seem to have been fertile ground for Dr. Paul's message. It doesn't make sense.

So what the hell happened?

Did we, as Paul supporters, get overly optimistic? Was the election somehow stolen, as some have suggested?

It's hard to say at this point, but the scuttlebutt among some of the Obama supporters is that chicanery occurred in New Hampshire. One enterprising Paul supporter even assembled numbers indicating that machine-counted votes resulted in striking disparity between votes cast and counted. (Updated on Jan. 13 to replace the Bradblog.com link, as Brad Friedman is not, to my knowledge, an Obama supporter, as the context originally suggested. My apologies to Mr. Friedman.)

It's disconcerting to note that such a large percentage of the votes in New Hampshire were counted using Diebold optical scanning machines:

The exact same make, model and version hacked in the Black Box Voting project in Leon County is used throughout New Hampshire, where about 45 percent of elections administrators hand count paper ballots at the polling place, with the remaining locations all using the Diebold version 1.94w optical scan machine. Because the voting machine locations tend to be urban, this represents about 81 percent of the New Hampshire voters.

Bev Harris, of Blackboxvoting.org, details the multiple vulnerabilities of those particular machines here.

To ensure that any potential theft went undetected during the actual voting, Hillary Clinton mobilized her lawyers to have both Paul and Obama poll watchers ejected from precincts where they were attempting to monitor the vote counting and counter the natural tendency of party operatives to engage in fraud.

All of these things add up to a fairly suspicious picture. Hell, I was suspicious early on, when the initial percentage distribution remained static, virtually unchanging — from 10% to 100% of precincts reporting. Is it plausible to believe that the pattern never moved, from precinct to precinct, across the entire state? I'm no Frank Luntz, but it's at the very least counterintuitive.

As for the Revolution. . .

Time will tell what impact these first two contests will have on the Ron Paul movement, whose ingenuity and enthusiasm thus far has been unquestionable.

I suspect that the Paulites (or my favorite, the Ronulans) will endure. Similarly to how they reacted to other attempts by the establishment media to ignore them or impugn their character or intelligence, Ronulans, of which I am one, will take these questionable results as another direct challenge to their identity and will mobilize accordingly.

That identity, though diverse, is unquestionably galvanized by a few common issues that won't be extinguished by success or failure in the primaries. Yes, Ron Paul voters repudiate the war in Iraq as unconstitutional and illegal, but they also repudiate everything else about the direction that Bush and the neocons have taken us these last few years — the domestic surveillance, the torture, the Patriot Act, the efforts to label dissenters “unlawful combatants,” and so on.

That won't go away. This is the same general sentiment that began to swell in 2004, for Howard Dean, and then re-emerged in the 2006 mid-terms, when the Dems retook Congress. The cause of this revolution was not the emergence of Ron Paul. Rather, Ron Paul's emergence is only a symptom of a much larger cause.

Typical Republicans have their choice of warmongering neocons in the other top-five Republican candidates. Each and every one of those candidates promises no fundamental change: the Iraq War will drip on, they'll continue to expand government in the name of chasing ghosts, and the citizens will be expected to ignore and tolerate increasing amounts of abuse by the ever-more-militarized domestic police state.

But not for us. We are the remnant. As long as we cherish the idea of not having to present our papers to every steroid-infused municipal law officer who demands it; as long as we cherish the idea that the government is the slave to the people and not the other way around; as long as we cherish the idea that we have a right to be left alone, and are willing to argue for it — the revolution lives on in us.

This revolution is against the bankrupting, coercive effects of empire, socialism, and pre-emptive war. This revolution is against the moral degradation of the emerging police state, anti-homeschooling legislation, and compulsory vaccinations. This revolution is against fiat currency, managed trade, and global governance.

This revolution is not defined by the political fortunes of a single candidate, as galvanizing and inspiring as he is — especially given the fact that the establishment that this revolution threatens remains firmly in control of the levers and dials of the pollsters and the voting machines.

This revolution is against the notion that the state is inherently benevolent.

This revolution is for liberty.

Ron Paul is our leader, but he's the first to admit that he's not our savior. No matter what happens to his candidacy, this revolution lives on in each of us who've felt something special, a quickening over the course of this campaign. As he says, "the message of liberty is popular." We will continue to preach it regardless.

Dare dismiss our movement and tell us that this revolution is over, pundits, and not only will you reveal a profound lack of perception, but we'll also discern your motives. The days of us waiting on you for word of what's happening in front of our eyes are over.

From this point forward, we follow our eyes, our ears, and our hearts.

Fear not, for though it may not be televised, it's coming to a billboard near you.

Fear not, friends, for the revolution is still at hand.

January 12, 2008