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It's the fifth of November! - Arvind Narayanan's journal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

It's the fifth of November! [Nov. 5th, 2007|05:21 am]
Arvind Narayanan
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On this day, four hundred and two years ago, Guy Fawkes tried and failed to assassinate the King of England. The failure of the plot is celebrated in many parts of the world.

Interestingly, the day has also come to be associated with the opposite sentiment. V for Vendetta (2005), in case you haven't heard of it, has a plot in which a rebel uses regicidal methods to bring down a totalitarian society. "Remember, remember the 5th of November."

And now the day has been co-opted by libertarian/anarchist Ron Paul fans who are organizing a massive fundraising drive ... that's right, today! Based on the first few wee hours of the morning, it looks like it's going to be HUGE.

The Ron Paul campaign has made no statements disassociating itself from the anarchist elements, but has instead embraced them. This is truly wonderful. Tucker on MSNBC, himself a Ron Paul supporter, seemed taken aback by some of the factions of the incredibly diverse Ron Paul support base. Strippers and nuns, rednecks and African Americans, old geezers and college kids, fundies and anarchists.. all united in wanting the government out of our lives.

So how is Ron Paul doing?

I regard the polls as more or less worthless; tradesports does a far better job of prediction than polls possibly can -- money speaks louder than words. Currently he's at 9.3%. I can only assume that the sharp spike in the last few days is due to the news surrounding November 5th.

Still a long shot by far, but already what he's achieved is remarkable: no one gave him a prayer a year ago. Even if he doesn't win, there are three things this campaign can potentially achieve:

Change the economics of presidential campaigns forever. Someone pointed out that what's happened this time is the long tail phenomenon manifesting itself in yet another domain -- presidential races. An extremely insightful observation. Ron Paul is part of the wagging tail. Obviously, this is because of the increasing importance of the Internet as a campaign medium.

Re-awaken libertarian sentiment. In Paul's words, "there's a libertarian streak in every American." The more totalitarian the government gets, the stronger this libertarian streak becomes. Libertarianism seems poised to go mainstream, and potentially, if Paul does well in New Hampshire, there's even a chance of toppling the two-party stranglehold. If anything like this happens, it would be far bigger than Ron Paul or this campaign.

Shift the voter demographic. As one banner so poignantly proclaimed, "Ron Paul cured my apathy." The support base, though small, is incredibly motivated. If this translates to a high voter turnout among college-age voters who are traditionally the least motivated group, the importance of this group will shoot up in future races, leading to a positive feedback loop.

Can't wait to see how this pans out.

Edit. Just over 4 million dollars at the end of the day. Broke a number of records.