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Among the Texas congressman's loyal, passionate, Web-savvy supporters, that's not a question. It's a statement -- and a semi-accurate one. Here's a very important similarity: Like Dean, Paul has been against the war on Iraq from the beginning, setting him apart from the rest of the GOP field.
And just as Dean's insurgent campaign effectively used the Web to raise money, rally its supporters and create buzz the year before the 2004 elections, Paul's campaign throughout the year has singularly relied on the Internet to fuel his engine.
All that popularity has translated to online money: $5.1 million in the third quarter, with at least 70 percent of it coming from online donors, according to Paul spokesman Jesse Benton. He raised about $3.1 million in the first and second quarters -- 80 percent of it from online donations.
"What we're seeing here is less about Paul being the Dean of this campaign but about the resurgence of libertarianism on the Internet. In the early '90s, the predominant philosophy on the Net was libertarian. Ross Perot had a lot of support from that group, which kind of faded in the background once the Republicans took control," said Jerome Armstrong, founder of the progressive blog MyDD and former Internet adviser for Dean. "Now that group has Ron Paul. And they're more about being independent than about identifying with either parties. It's a small voice within the Republican party, libertarians, but they're creating a lot of noise."
As someone who tried to convince family members that Ross Perot was a flash in the pan, and has been a politically active libertarian ever since, I can attest to the lack of candidates outside the Libertarian Party itself that were truly libertarian; or even truly fiscally conservative.
Joshua Levy of TechPresident had this to say:
"Ron Paul's online popularity is really bigger than Ron Paul the candidate. There's a void in the Republican party because there are no candidates speaking to the more libertarian financial conservatism that's been the bedrock of the party. There's a sense that what passes for the GOP right now isn't Republican and it isn't conservative. Ron Paul is filling that void."Which is true. There aren't any conservatives that someone like Barry Goldwater would recognize running for president, other than Ron Paul. To be fair though, there aren't any liberals running as Democrats, either. There are a dozen Socialists of varying stripes running, but not a single liberal (as liberal is defined everywhere else in the world except the US) that I can identify. Which is a shame. It would be nice to have an election where the average American isn't asked to choose between a fascist and a socialist.
Maybe this time we'll at least do without the fascist. Ron Paul has my support, as the only non-fascist running for the Republican nomination. He's also got my support as the best liberty oriented candidate to appear in any forum to date, with the best chance of success.