Ron Paul's 2008 campaign was fundamentally educational. As much as a dedicated core wanted it to be about winning the election, the things it takes to put a candidate in the White House just weren't there. What began as an educational campaign exploded into a movement, with grassroots support far beyond what the official campaign was prepared to utilize.
The official campaign staff were for the most part tackling their first national campaign. Infrastructure had to be hastily built. A ragtag army of volunteers proved more interested in throwing snowballs at Sean Hannity and standing on streetcorners waving signs than in doing the hard work it takes to turn the ship of state in a new and unprecedented direction. Even the advertising had the same overly-hasty, amateurish quality.
This post title springs from one example of the shortcomings of the 2008 campaign. If you hang with this Tireless Agorist to the end, I'll throw in a viewing, and a comparison to today's campaign, as a reward.
But first, let's look at some numbers:
220%, 310%, 483%
Here are some more numbers:
-1%, 129%, 245%
What makes those two sets of numbers meaningful? The first set of three show the increase in vote counts for Ron Paul, 2012 over 2008, in the first three states. The second set of numbers are for Mitt Romney. Ron Paul's support is growing at a rate more than twice that of Mitt Romney. And we have months of primaries ahead before the Republican National Convention in August. Thus the title of this post.
Dandelions on the Rise
Anybody who's ever had a yard and ignored a single dandelion early in the spring can immediately grasp what's going on here.
Ron Paul has stated repeatedly from the earliest days of the 2008 cycle that his campaign is about spreading a message, and a very specific message at that. He sums it up in three words: "Freedom is Popular." He's also a coalition builder, appealing to voters across the spectrum who are tired of the endlessly growing and increasingly incompetent government, endless warfare both foreign and domestic, the steady erosion of personal liberty, and gross fiscal irresponsibility championed by both parties.
The more egregious the violations by the current Republicrat establishment, the more his message resonates with those exposed to it. From bailouts to NDAA, to SOPA and PIPA, the establishment is doing everything it can to advance the cause of liberty in a purely ham-fisted way. For those who understand the message, even his largest warts shrink in significance, because he's the only candidate of either party addressing the issues of most importance.
When you look at the growth pattern for actual votes between the two election cycles, rather than getting caught up in who placed where in each state's contests, it's obvious that his "educational" candidacy is succeeding far beyond his wildest dreams. This bodes well for him in later states, where he was far more competitive in the 2008 cycle.
The success of his campaign so far is even more remarkable when the obvious media bias is factored into the equation. Observers from Jon Stewart on down have commented on that bias, so we won't waste time confirming it in this post. Be aware that it's much more widespread than most people believe, and you're in the right ballpark.
Ron Paul has tremendous grassroots support. The dandelions are everywhere. While his message is not easily reduced to soundbites, he has a relentless and obviously growing army of proselytizers out there selling the message, in detail, to friends, neighbors, and anybody they can snare for a few minutes of earnest discussion.
He's not just running to be another "me, too" President in the mold of George Bush, Barack Obama, and Mitt Romney. He's running to change the fundamental balance between the people and the government that's supposed to serve them, and all too often acts as if it were the other way around. And once people get that message, they're extremely unlikely to unlearn it.
Now let's deal with some reality. The beauty contests called "the primary cycle" are in many ways meaningless. The Republican nominee will be selected in Tampa, Florida in August, when 1245 of the 2488 delegates agree on a single candidate. After these first three states, no more than 75 of those delegates have their marching orders -- and those orders are flexible. Some delegates are bound to their assigned candidate only on the first vote at the convention. Other states release their delegates after two or three votes. Unless one candidate arrives at the convention with 1245 committed delegates, the nomination is up for grabs.
For brevity, we won't go into detail about Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum's beauty contest campaigns. Instead, a quick summary is that neither has the ground game in place to get out the vote or field slates of delegates in all 50 states, neither are on the ballot in major states that account for well over 500 of those 2488 delegates, and both are low on funds to run their campaigns all the way to the convention. Newt Gingrich is ineligible for 526 delegates, including those of his home state of Virginia; Santorum is in even worse shape.
Electibility is also crucial. Although the general public isn't aware that poll after poll show that only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul are competitive with Obama (see the paragraph on media bias above), you can bet that those delegates who arrive in Tampa are much more politically aware, and will be well-versed on the results of those polls.
In reality, we have a two-man race to the finish. Those two men are Mitt Romney, who is having obvious problems selling an ever-changing message to disillusioned voters, and Ron Paul, with a message that's been consistent for 30 years, a huge and growing base of proxy educators, and tens of thousands of grassroots average joes who are a long way from maxing out their donation limits and keep throwing the campaign $20, $50 or $100 everytime a moneybomb goes off.
The Bottom Line
Is it likely that Ron Paul will become the Republican nominee? Perhaps not, but discounting the facts in favor of the media spin drastically undervalues the possibility. It may seem even more unlikely that he would win the presidency, given the wholesale efforts to encourage voters to pull the lever for a candidate based on nothing more than a slogan. But if people believe in "Freedom is Popular" more than they believe in undelivered "Hope and Change," who knows how things might turn out.
Even though we've been discussing dandelions in this analogy, it really doesn't work for the wrap-up. So I'll say it this way. The Republican establishment has a huge "crab grassroots" problem, and no idea how to concoct an appropriate herbicide.
...and that's all I have to say about that.
Now here's that entertaining little piece of fluff from four years ago that I mentioned early on, as a reward for sitting through this analysis. The tagline that titles this post has been a popular expression of both frustration and hope in the liberty movement since its release.
And here are some examples of just how the sophistication of the Ron Paul campaign has increased in the last four years. The first illustrates how the theme of that 2008 spot has been fine-tuned.
This one, on the other hand, takes an approach considerably unlike the conventional campaign ad, in the "Ford Truck" genre. Fluff, but much more entertaining and sophisticated fluff than four years ago.
This ad plays well to the average voter, and is clearly a sales job to the big-government skeptic.
And finally, an example of what his opponents call an attack ad, and what he calls exposing their record. Make your own decision.
He's Catchin' On, I'm Tellin' Ya!