Another month, another surprise from the Ron Paul campaign. Yesterday, on Guy Fawkes Day (modern pop-culture reference to the movie "V for Vendetta," though apparently the graphic novel on which it was based was more radical) his campaign raised more money in a single day than any Republican candidate has -- $4.3 million, something any of the other campaigns would die to dream of doing. The previous record was the $3.1 million Mitt Romney raised in a single day last January. The Paul campaign obliterated it. (Hillary and Obama have raised more on a single day; this is a Republican record.)
I talked to Lew Rockwell at the Mises Institute today, and he stressed what struck me as well. This fundraising phenomenon wasn't something the campaign dreamed up, it was initiated, planned and carried through entirely by volunteers. As Lew put it, all the campaign had to do was be warned that it better have its servers fired up and accept the money. There were 37,000 people who donated, 21,00 of them new donors.
What the Paul campaign has become is the most impressive, decentralized, spontaneous-order movement for freedom of which I am aware. The "movement" during the Vietnam war had a lot of spontaneity, but also a lot of planning. (Of course, it didn't have the Internet.) What the Paul campaign has done is to motivate a community, invite people to act on their own, and stood back and watched as one unlikely piece of progress follows another.
Will the Republican establishment and the rest of the political world learn much from this? As Rick Klein put it for ABC, "Sixty-seven percent of self-identified Republicans still approve of the job the president is doing, according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll. Read another way, a full third of the people who consider themselves Republicans are not at the president's side (to say nothing of independents who have traditionally voted Republican.
"Other than Paul, no Republican candidate is making a concerted effort to reach those disaffected GOPers. Other than Paul, each remains a full-throated supporter of the war in Iraq, even as an AP bulletin out this morning pegs 2007 as the deadliest year yet for US troops in this war."
Klein doesn't make note of -- perhaps he doesn't understand it yet -- the number of independents, Democrats, young people who hadn't thought much about politics, and people who thought they were apolitical who have been attracted to Paul -- even people who don't agree with him on much of what he says. He feeds a hunger for authenticity. Agree with him or not (and I disagree on immigration) you know he'll tell you what he believes rather than what the polls tell him people want to hear. The result is the most enthusiastic grassroots campaign in ages.
I've said before that the Ron Paul campaign is the most impressive pro-freedom mass movement I can remember, and perhaps the most significant one in U.S. history. The abolition movement is the only one that strikes me as comparable.