Ron Paul is all the buzz on this series of tubes we call the Internet. Not just the typical flash in the pan buzz of lonelygirl15 either, this meme appears to have the persistence of a weed. As I write this, 'Ron Paul' is the second most searched term in the blogosphere, nestled comfortably between the usual suspects 'Youtube' and 'MySpace' . This has been noted adnaseum over the last several weeks. What has been missed however is the apparent lasting power of Ron Paul. He took the usual meme route and shot right to number one and held it for a while before being de-throned by blog meme regular 'Paris Hilton'. That's typical for flash in the pan popularity. What is not typical however is that Paul dropped only to second place and has remained there ever since. Normally, when the 'next big thing' has had its time in the sun, it disappears down the memory hole, rarely to be heard from again. The Ron Paul revolution continues to hold a respectable place net-wide, from the blogosphere to Youtube to Myspace to Facebook to Digg and beyond. This thing is here to stay.
So what's the trick? I'm sure any other politician would love to know. Any politician would love to be able to harness this type of grass roots movement which is reaching the maximum number of people at the minimum cost. The trick is: There is no trick. You can't trick the Internet. Sure, you can make a big push and gain some recognition, but it won't have the staying power we see in the Ron Paul campaign. That's the difference between the old media and the new. Now, when a politician spews forth sound bytes and rhetoric, there's a hundred bloggers picking over every word, comparing it to the records, analyzing it every which way and if the words don't match the reality ... woe to the foolish politician who tried to pull a fast one. It can be a career ender. The net is in essence the worlds largest 'truthiness' detector. Bullshit and spin have minimal effect here and often times can engender a backlash worse than any gains made. On the net, a politician has to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. That's where Ron Paul wins. His honesty and integrity leaves nothing for the nay sayers to assail. It also doesn't hurt that his message itself resonates with the freedom loving internet crowd. As a strict Constitutionalist, Paul puts freedom and liberty above all else and appears to extend that to the internet as well. He is against regulation and taxation of the net. I think perhaps he sees in the internet what his policies could do for America as a whole. The internet thrives exactly because it is minimally regulated and un-taxed. The entire country used to be that way, before ever more intrusive and restrictive laws were passed for corporate and special interests and strangling taxation choked off the American Dream. That's what made this country great and in some ways we're still resting on the laurels of past glories, coasting along on the power of yesterday and destroying the future in our head long path to an unsustainable future. In a nutshell, if you want to excite people about you as a politician, you have to be a politician that people can get excited about. Don't just tell us what you think we want to hear, that doesn't fly in today's age. We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore. It's a simple concept really: You do right by the people and the people will do right by you.
That's not to say politicians out there can't capitalize on the power of Ron Paul right now. This is where you would do well to take heed. Besides the ever vigilant 'truthiness detection' the internet has brought to the political landscape, there is another important contribution: Long Memory. The net does not forget. This long memory is a sword that can cut both ways. If you anger the blogosphere, you can be guaranteed that somewhere down the road it will come back to bite you. You can rest assured that one of the 70 million+ bloggers has archived your misdeeds and will raise the hue and cry at the most inopportune moment sometime in the future. A good example of this might be seen in the case of Eric Dondero. Dondero, described by Paul as "a disgruntled former employee who was fired", apparently belongs to the small and ever dwindling mindset of Americans who believe that the "terrists" hate us for our freedom, as opposed to the more realistic stance which Ron Paul and the entire intelligence community takes which is that they hate our foreign policy. After Paul pointed out this simple common sense fact in the GOP debates, Dondero foolishly announced that he'd be challenging Paul for his congressional seat. The flap lasted about a half a day. Thanks to the long memory of the internet and the power of the Ron Paul Army however, it is likely that Dondero has sunk his political career. I'd be surprised if he were able to make a successful run as Dog Catcher now, and you can bet dollars to donuts that the Paulites will be vigilantly watching for him to try and ready and eager to pounce if he does. This long memory of course has a bright side as well. Politicians who support Ron Paul may well find themselves in a much better position when their own races come up. Those struggling toughly contested seats may find an ally in the Ron Paul Army. They may find themselves rescued by a sudden surge in fundraising, volunteer campaigning and those extra votes that just make the difference.
To be clear, politicians, if you endorse Ron Paul now, we will not forget you. We are a large and growing, internet-savy and very loyal grass roots movement, becoming increasingly organized all the time. The type of energetic and enthusiastic support we offer is priceless. It can put boots on the ground, coins in the coffers and bodies in the voting booth. It can be had at no cost. Endorse Ron Paul and we will not forget you.