In the wake of Super Tuesday, it seems like a number of Ron Paul supporters are disappointed. They shouldn’t be. The campaign so far has invigorated my faith in the American people.
Sure, I would have liked to see Ron Paul win the nomination, and I admit that doesn’t look likely at the moment. But that would have been an unrealistic expectation. Of course we’re not giving up, but the odds look awful long at this point.
I’m excited because he did so well despite a pretty amateurish campaign. Don’t get me wrong on this. Ron Paul and the campaign staff are heroes in my eyes, and the message worked for me. It worked for the base in general, which turned out to be a lot bigger than anyone in the MSM were predicting. Forget about the states where he came in 2nd or broke 20% for a minute. He got 7% in New York State – a bastion of socialist thinking even within Republican circles – without spending any money. Jim Ostrowski was begging them for $50K and they wisely said no. The money was better spent elsewhere, especially in states where it’s not winner-take-all. But the campaign never found a soundbite that reached beyond the base.
Consider all the hurdles that were thrown in front of the Ron Paul campaign. In just about every state the establishment of the GOP lined up behind someone else. Here in NY they lined up behind Giuliani, then switched to McCain when Rudy dropped out. Having the establishment behind you makes a lot of things easier, including getting on the ballot. Even though he got on the ballot everywhere, a lot of work was required and this took away from campaign efforts.
Maybe the biggest hurdle has been bias in the mainstream media. Early on they dismissed him as a flake. After the money bombs they started to pay a little attention to him, but he still got far less coverage than the anointed ones. The media problem was more severe in local markets, as we saw here in Albany.
Rather than dwelling on the past, we need to look to the future. First of all, the nominating process is not over. I’d love to see Ron Paul get enough delegates to matter. Maybe it won’t happen, but then again, maybe it will.
Second, and maybe more important, we have to focus on congressional races this fall. If the same fundraising efforts are devoted to a limited number of congressional campaigns, we can move from one Ron Paul in Congress to a Ron Paul faction in Congress. The movement raised $20M for Ron Paul in the 4th quarter. If the same amount is raised and spread over four or five candidates, that can be huge money in the right congressional districts.
I reviewed the candidates on the PaulCongress website. No one stands out too much, but my personal favorite is Tom Terbolizard. His issue positions are pretty much dead on with Ron Paul. And he’s running for an open seat race in a GOP district, with disarray in the Republican primary. A $5M money bomb for Terbo would be huge in a race like that.
We have an open seat race here in Albany. The district leans Democrat but is winnable. The Dems are in disarray and there is no clear candidate on that side, while no one has stepped up for the GOP yet either. I can’t run for a number of reasons, but I’d love to help a true Ron Paul supporter who is willing to do it.
The other big thing moving forward is finding a message that reaches out beyond the base. I love the Constitution as much as anyone, but I don’t think it works in a soundbite. Like it or not, candidates are often defined by their soundbite. And when they don’t have a clear soundbite, the media defines the candidate however it wants. They did this to Ron Paul in spades.
As should be obvious by the title of this blog, I prefer “Stop Wasting Money” as the centerpiece of any and all soundbites. I believe it worked for me in my 2004 campaign. I saw how it reached people in conversations with many voters. There can be many variations: “Stop wasting money overseas” was really big for me. You can do a lot with “Stop wasting money on X.” But I’m open to other soundbites.
I’m hoping Trevor Lyman stays involved. He has the contact information for many contributors. He could start up a RP Revolution PAC, or some similar organization.
Revolutions usually aren’t won overnight. I’m in this for the long haul. How about you?