My February 2008 story on Ron Paul (“Scenes From the Ron Paul Revolution”) didn’t just survey a presidential campaign that failed to win. It surveyed a revolution still in motion. “Even if Ron Paul doesn’t get that many votes,” I concluded, “his voters may end up running for office themselves. It would be a fitting legacy for a very do-it-yourself political movement.” Sure enough, in our July 2008 issue (“Permanent rEVOLution”), David Weigel reported that “by the end of the 2008 elections, as many as 40 self-proclaimed Ron Paul Republicans will have run for national office.”
Paul’s biggest triumphs came after my article went to press. In the fourth quarter of 2007 he outraised all his GOP opponents, pulling in $19.7 million. Using the “money bomb” technique—coordinating all his Internet fans to give on the same day—he raised $6.3 million on December 16, the largest single day of campaign giving in American history. Since the campaign, Paul has written three New York Times bestsellers. His pet issue of curbing the Federal Reserve has achieved national prominence. Paul worked his perennial “audit the Fed” legislation into a bill that passed the House (though it did not become law) and won chairmanship of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy.
Paul has topped the straw polls at the Conservative Political Action Convention for the last two years. A national advocacy group pushing Paul’s ideas, called the Campaign for Liberty, rose from his campaign and raised $6.1 million in the off-election year of 2009—nearly three times what it raised in 2008. Paul’s son Rand Paul, who largely shares his politics, became the most successful explicitly “Tea Party” Republican, winning a Kentucky Senate seat last year while cementing the Paul family’s reputation as the libertarian counterpart to the Kennedy clan. In April, Paul launched an exploratory committee for a 2012 presidential run, after his PAC raised $700,000 in a March “money bomb.”
Paul, who predicted the economic downturn and blames it on the Federal Reserve, says that growing discontent about the economy will give him more traction in 2012, as will growing recognition of the pointlessness of our overseas adventures. The head of Paul’s campaign, Jesse Benton, told The American Conservative in April that their biggest money in 2008 came too close to the New Hampshire primary and that this time they want to “put a big focus on raising the money up front.”