- The Venn of Paul: As befits a movement with mainstream aspirations, libertarians have taken a big-tent approach to ideological purity. A pro-life, anti-immigration conservative like Ron Paul is welcome, as is a free-love prophet like the late Robert A. Heinlein—and, of course, libertarian thought overlaps with segments of both left and right.
- Meet the rabid fan base—techies, hippies, tax haters, and war protesters—who believe that only Ron Paul can save America from itself.
- Loveable Extremist
Josh Harkinson, Mother Jones
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At a gun show in San Francisco's Cow Palace, between a table of switchblades and a rack of Enfield rifles, David McBride sat glumly under a "Ron Paul for President" banner. The shy, 28-year-old software tester had driven in from Silicon Valley and wasn't sure how to chat up nra members chewing elk jerky—or, for that matter, the dozen-or-so Paul supporters he'd come to know via Meetup.com but had never met in the flesh. So he pulled out his iPhone and began searching for the latest Paul headlines. Instantly, the geeks gathered: Was the phone's camera 2.0 megapixels? Was Paul gaining in the Iowa Republican straw poll? "I'm waiting until they come out with the one that has ActiveSync," a ponytailed computer consultant said. The group nodded knowingly.
Their candidate, a 72-year-old obstetrician from Lake Jackson, Texas—land of duck hunters, ranchers, and oilmen—has improbably become an Internet sensation. He counts more Facebook and MySpace supporters than any Republican; more Google searches, YouTube subscribers, and website hits than any presidential candidate; and more Meetup members than the front-runners of both parties combined. In recent months he was sought out on the blog search engine Technorati more often than anyone except a Puerto Rican singer with a sex tape on the loose; his November 5 Internet "Money Bomb" event pulled in $4 million from more than 35,000 individual donors, a single-day online-fundraising record in a primary. (The previous best was $3 million, by John Kerry.) "The campaign calls itself the Ron Paul Revolution," notes Republican Internet consultant David All. "And I don't think that's a far stretch."
Loveable Extremist, Patrick Caldwell, American Prospect
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