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Ron Paul…What Happened?

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If you followed Ron Paul’s candidacy closely, you’ll want to read this…

Before the election, pollsters such as John Zogby and Scott Rasmussen thought Paul might come in third place. […] But Paul finished in a momentum-sapping fifth place, polling worse than he did in Iowa even after spending $3.6 million in the state. Only a second-place showing in Nevada relieved the doldrums of a bleak winter: 6 percent in Michigan, 4 percent in South Carolina, and 3 percent in the make-or-break state of Florida.

The chance of a Paul nomination, never likely to begin with, became mathematically impossible. Once that became clear, interest turned naturally to the members of Paul’s decentralized, ad hoc movement—often dubbed the rEVOLution, after a slogan coined by Arizona libertarian Ernie Hancock. The big surprise is how many of his supporters want to scrap parts of Paul’s campaign platform. The big question is how many of them will stick around for whatever comes next.

It’s a good article, but I fear that the Paulites will just ignore it, call it trash, accuse the author of “not getting it” and being a shill for the media.

I’m also afraid that their idea of “what comes next” is just as fantastical as the likelihood of a Ron Paul presidency…

Can the Paulites make lasting change? Eve Fairbanks of The New Republic described Paul’s supporters as “the closest thing this race has to the Deaniacs of ’04.” Those Web-savvy, young, and excitable supporters of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean may not have powered their man to the White House, but their influence remains a potent force in Democratic politics. Dean’s Web team, including Matthew Stoller and Jerome Armstrong, became some of the loudest voices in the lefty blogosphere and go-to gurus for all Democratic Internet campaigns. Ex–Dean staffers populate the Courage Campaign, a liberal activist group in the MoveOn.org mold. And Dean himself has run the Democratic National Committee since 2005. If Paul’s people wanted to copy a movement, they could do a lot worse.

I heard the idea of a Ron Paul RNC chairmanship tossed around by Paulites in New Hampshire, and I heard it afterward. They know it’s a pipe dream, but they’re starting to ask: How might an activist libertarian splinter movement influence a larger and more moribund Republican organization? “We’re learning this stuff for the first time,” said D.C.-area Paul supporter Brett Guidry during the week of the Michigan primary. “The petitions, the caucuses, the logistical stuff.”

I feel for the Paulites. I really do. The Dean campaign gave so many people so much hope and then it just imploded right before our eyes. The same thing happened in a less dramatic fashion for Paul, although I would say that the newsletter controversy pushed a lot of people away from him. More than many Paulties would like to admit.

However, where Dean and Paul’s stories differ is it’s obvious that Ron won’t become the RNC chair. In fact, it’s extremely likely that the most he can hope for is he’ll win his seat in Congress and maybe run for President in another four years. It would be a shame to see him become the perennial candidate, but I think that’s where it’s headed. Another Nader-like figure who had a chance at really being part of the debate, but instead chose to not challenge his party with a national campaign. There’s nothing to suggest otherwise.

Oh, and he’ll start getting paid to be a speaker. That’s inevitable. So the Paulites will essentially continue to give him money in one form or another and the “movement” will end, not with a bang, but with a digital whimper.

CORRECTION:
A commenter said this…

This post is dated March 10th, but a week ago, Paul won his GOP primary by over 70% of the vote. He has no Democrat opponent. Try reading the news before posting.

Obviously I knew he had won the GOP primary, but I didn’t realize he would run unopposed in the general election. Silly me, I assumed he’d have a Democratic challenger.

Still, my mistake.