The blame for our staggering loss in NH cannot be concentrated. It's easy to point the finger at fraud, the campaign, dumb voters, or the mainstream media.
But listen. The self-declared Ron Paul r3VOLution is comprised of those with a common mistrust of the establishment, desire for liberty, and anger at the mainstream media. It is an extraordinarily passionate movement. It has said, over and over, that this is about more than just Ron Paul: it's about itself, which is, a movement.
But in order to elect Ron Paul president, we needed a majority.
We in the movement thought, if we are loud enough, if Ron Paul wins enough Straw Polls, enough internet polls, if we write enough letters to the editor, if we are on enough street corners, if we hand out enough slim jims, if we get a blimp, if there's a Ron Paul plane in the sky, if we protest the Fox News forum loudly enough ... then the voters will come. But what happened was, we just looked like a kooky movement.
For Ron Paul to win, we don't need a majority of the population to join the Ron Paul R3VOLution. That will never happen in the next few months. We just need ordinary people with more mainstream views to vote for Ron Paul on basic policy issues. He's the one making sense, the most informed, the most genuine seeming candidate, because he opposes the war, because he's the strongest pro-life candidate, and so on. It needed to be about Ron Paul.
We are passionate, we are angry. So the Union Leader posted a video of us on all four corners of Elm Street, shouting "Fox News Sucks!" (I was there.) But we need to accept responsibility that that anger and passion turned people off.
Our extraordinarily loud presence on Elm Street in Manchester that last week, I believe, was extremely harmful to the public perception. I had to reconvince an old mainstream Reagan conservative to vote for Ron Paul on primary day, because he didn't want to be associated with a fringe, "whacko" movement. My own wife stopped going to the Ron Paul websites after she watched a video in which Ron Paul supporters accosted Frank Luntz and told him to f*k off. I myself was appalled to see another video in which Sean Hannity was swarmed by a horde of angry supporters and told him the same.
The Ron Paul revolution eclipsed the campaign. In future primary states, we need to decide: is this about the revolution, or is it about a campaign for president? If you want a majority, we'll need to be much more mainstream than we were.
You need to choose your battles. This is not a war against the media. This is not a war against the prevailing paradigm. Ron Paul is electable without discussing the CFR, 9/11, and legalizing marijuana. If this is a war against people's prevailing ideas, it will take a lot longer than this election season. If it's about electing Ron Paul, we've got to play by the rules. So let's make some adjustments and try to make Ron Paul look legitimate by current, prevailing standards. And get out of the way. Clean up, folks. Put on some ties. Get out of the internet blogs. Start being nice to national pundits. Stop shouting. If you want to win the majority, you need to appeal to the majority. Period. We blew it.
For many of us, this is our first foray into politics. Last week I learned a big lesson about the politics of persuasion.