TAMPA, August 29, 2012 ― As I walked up to the Gate B entrance of the Tampa Bay Times Forum last night, I was greeted by the sound of a large crowd inside chanting “President Paul!” followed by “End the Fed!” For a moment I thought I was back at Ron Paul’s “We are the Future Rally.” I was not. I was entering the Republican National Convention.
While Paul was not nominated and will not be a speaker at the RNC, he has something usually reserved only for winners in the general election. Ron Paul has coat tails.
After weeks of negotiations culminating in a heated debate at the RNC on Tuesday, Ron Paul finally had a portion of the delegates he’d won at Republican state conventions seated on the RNC floor. Even with his total diminished by agreement, Paul actually won Iowa, Minnesota and Nevada, garnering approximately 200 delegate votes total.
That delegate strength has allowed Paul to achieve his secondary goal of influencing the Republican Party platform. According to senior campaign advisor Doug Wead, the Republican Party platform will contain major planks of Paul’s, including auditing the Federal Reserve System, requiring a congressional declaration of war before engaging in military operations, a commission to examine instituting a gold standard, and keeping the internet free and unregulated.
In accumulating the delegates necessary to achieve those platform victories, the Paul campaign has also made huge inroads in the Republican Party in many more states. Paul supporters have been elected as state chairmen, senior committee members and officers.
That’s not all. Paul has also inspired people who have never sought public office before to run at the local, state and federal level, where many are having success. I spoke to one Paul supporter, Charles Gregory, who won the Republican nomination for Georgia state house of representatives on a Paul-style platform.
“We took the message of liberty and focused on the elements that were the least controversial and the most mainstream. It was very popular in my district and we reached out to a lot of voters and it went very well,” said Gregory.
“Following the Constitution, Second-Amendment rights is very popular, less government is very popular, but the difference between Ron Paul folks and much of the establishment is that we know we’re actually serious about doing those things,” Gregory added.
Gregory was endorsed by an organization called “Liberty Candidates,” a grass roots activist group that grades candidates on their answers to a series of questions designed to vet them on their liberty credentials. I spoke to Gigi Bowman, the founder and president of Liberty Candidates, on Friday (video here).
“Liberty Candidates are candidates that are running for office because they were inspired by Ron Paul. Right now is the time for us to really take the message that we got from Ron Paul, take it forward, and the best thing we can do is support and endorse candidates running for office on Ron Paul’s platform. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what he really wanted,” said Bowman.
Bowman has over 130 committee members reviewing candidates and their answers to the organization’s survey.
Not all of the grass roots efforts follow conventional political strategy, either. An organization in New Hampshire called “The Free State Project” isn’t just trying to convince voters to agree with their libertarian platform. They’re also trying to bring those voters who already agree into New Hampshire to live. I spoke to Free State Project president Carla Gericke on Saturday (video here).
“Basically it’s a geo-political movement to attract 20,000 activists to the State of New Hampshire to try and create a beacon of liberty for the rest of the world. The way it works is you have to pledge and once we reach 20,000, it’s sort of the trigger and then people are going to move. But in typical libertarian fashion, a bunch of us were like ‘yeah, we’re not going to wait for the trigger and we’re just going to up and move. I moved from Manhattan in 2008,” said Gericke.
Before dismissing Gericke’s group as some fringe wingnuts, read this: They’ve brought over 1,100 people into the state and elected 11 state representatives already.
Bowman’s and Gericke’s groups are not sponsored, endorsed or funded by Ron Paul or his campaign. They were simply inspired by his message and went out and did it, and they are not alone.
So, while all of the attention is currently focused on Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, Ron Paul’s supporters are quietly keeping his revolution alive, giving credence to the message of his farewell rally on Sunday. We are the future.
Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.
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