Ron Paul and his supporters are much exercised by the danger to America of both crony corporatism and top-down “solutions” that are designed and implemented by officials of the state. They would like to see a country whose direction is determined much less by either, and much more by the free market — defined simply as the sum of voluntary actions and transactions of individuals.
Those working to make Ron Paul president are seeing success based on that very principle — but applied to the campaign, rather than the nation.
Look at any other candidate’s campaign, and you will see a relatively top-down organization, in which the foot soldiers fill various roles that the campaign managers and strategists decide should be filled. In this form of centralized planning, the upper echelons of the campaign employees serve as the politburo. Perhaps ironically, this is standard practice for democratic politics.
Paul’s campaign is something entirely different: it is mostly — almost completely, in fact — a group of excited individuals who, in a small way, are social or political entrepreneurs: coming up with new ideas and working on whatever excites them the most, or whatever idea or effort they think is proving the most productive. These are autonomous individuals, organizing only spontaneously and among themselves to see through specific projects. The best ideas and the efforts of the hardest workers among them rise to the top in a veritable free market of innovation and implementation. Even the platforms they use to communicate and organize exist because one or a few passionate volunteers decided they’d be useful.
If I were Ron Paul and were taking a question on what America would look like if free markets replaced crony corporatism, I’d point to the end-run that these volunteers have made around the corporate media who’ve worked very hard not to take any notice of them and their candidate, and I’d recall the fact that has been known since the beginning of civilization: that if you let people do things they want to do for self-interest, they get done well.
And rest assured that all of us Ron Paul supporters are fighting for his presidency out of self-interest.
Some of the efforts are huge and well known. For example, Michael Nystrom founded the Daily Paul, which is now the super-efficient clearing house for all Paul-related information; Israel Anderson founded Ron Paul Flix; Zak Carter got kicked out of the U.S. army for endorsing Ron Paul and his foreign policy in his military uniform in a YouTube video, and has since turned his skills to getting media attention for others who are good spokesmen for Ron Paul’s ideas, and so on and so on.
Of course, there are many other extraordinary efforts that been extremely, moderately, or not at all successful (!) — and that is as it should be in this world of laissez faire and innovation.
What really demonstrates that the Ron Paul campaign is a unique hotbed of innovation and free-thinking are not those big efforts that put their creators’ names “out there” in the public domain, but the extraordinary contributions of people whose names you’ll never know, and whose impact, while massive, may never be traced back to them.
It is because of these people that the official campaign could probably close its doors tomorrow and hardly anyone would notice.
There’s the man who donates plasma specifically to pay for his Ron Paul merchandise that he uses to canvas for him.
… And the couple who moved across the country to New Hampshire just to be able to vote for Dr. Paul in its primary.
… Then there’s the lady who is writing a letter to every mosque in the country to ask them to consider speaking about Ron Paul and his message of peace.
… And the homeowners that got together 20 friends to paint their entire house as a huge mural advertisement for Ron Paul’s candidacy — until the city made them paint it over.
… And the gas station attendant who slips a Ron Paul “Slim Jim” into every newspaper in the shop.
… And so on and so on.
I had no idea about any of this until I “came out” for Ron Paul in my article, “If You Love Peace, Become a Blue Republican” for the Huffington Post, in which I urged those who had supported Obama in 2008 to undo the neocons’ expansion of wars against people who do not threaten us, crony corporatism and the take-down of civil rights under Bush, to register as Republicans for just a year to ensure that Ron Paul, who is against all of these things, wins the GOP’s nomination for president.
The same day, I was contacted by the above-mentioned Israel Anderson, who thought that the idea had legs and immediately set about helping make it so by securing the Facebook page and domain, which quickly formed the basis of what now is widely referred to as the “Blue Republican movement“.
A few days later, I had a call from an Elijah Stanfield, a video producer who was to create the Blue Republican video, watched by nearly 30,000 at the time of writing, that explains how the Republican caucus and primary system works for the benefit of people who are considering switching parties to vote for Ron Paul. This was not the first project he had undertaken for Ron Paul. Then a few weeks later, I had a call from the said Mr. Carter, who promptly started calling media outlets all over the USA to help spread the Blue Republican meme.
And so I discovered not only the amazing size and enthusiasm and connectivity of the Ron Paul movement, but also the power of synergy as individuals, working for themselves, but with each other, have a total impact that is so much more than the sum of its parts.
That this is the very nature of the Ron Paul revolution — and not just a small part of it — is unprecedented. Certainly, Obama three years ago generated unusual excitement, but it never involved the same depth and duration of commitment that we see today among the Ron Paul revolutionaries.
I would suggest that America hasn’t seen such a movement around a political candidate in recent history — and when it did last see such a thing, communication and information technology, and most other things, were entirely different.
For that reason, the outcome of our efforts for Ron Paul is unpredictable (although the signs are good!). That is a great thing because it means that anything is possible. That fact should excite all of us as we push for a change in this country that no one quite dare predict, but an increasing number dream about.
We all know the famous words of Margaret Mead:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Well, here we are.
This article originally appeared on Huffington Post. You can follow Robin on Twitter.