'The Ron Paul Revolution,' Memphis-Style
Memphis activists, both left and right, are hoisting the Texas presidential candidate’s banner.
AUGUST 7, 2007
Although on economic issues he is arguably the most conservative candidate now
running for president in either major party, Republican Ron Paul is scoring surprisingly
well across political boundaries these days, using campaigning techniques that
his local Memphis organizer, Chris Holley, frankly attributes to Democratic populist
"He's the father of the method," acknowledges Holley of Dean, the
former Vermont governor and current chairman of the Democratic National Committee,
whose dramatic run for president in 2003 and 2004 was based on innovative grass-roots
methods and extensive use of the Internet.
"We've taken Howard Dean's idea and put it on steroids," says Holley,
citing as one example a massive effort this past weekend, in which local Paul
enthusiasts, working from late Saturday into the wee hours of Sunday, put up
"over 150 banners and 500 signs" touting the maverick Texas congressman's
suddenly nascent presidential campaign.
The small signs, which are posted on utility poles and in other right-of-way
areas, appear to be stenciled. The banners advertise in large block letters
"The Ron Paul Revolution," and a curiosity of them is that the four
letters "evol" appear in a bright, superimposed red as the word "love"
If that smacks of the 1960s' flower children, that's at least partly because
the Paul movement contains several youthful activists of that sort - like a
twenty-ish girl calling herself "Sky" (a drummer in a rock band, it
turns out) who, one night last week, brandished a poster touting Paul to Germantown
And, to look at the group's locally produced YouTube offering, "The Ron
Paul Revolution, Memphis Style," it would seem that the similarities persist.
The five-minute video offers a dose of politics flavored with "BBQ, iced
tea, and Elvis," and, to a background of the re-mastered Presley song,
"A Little Less Conversation," features a montage of Paul's local supporters
preparing and executing the sign-and-banner operation, called "Painting
the Town Ron."
A climactic scene has a group of Paulites holding banners at the gates of Graceland
"It's the most popular Ron Paul video on YouTube right now," boasts
Holley himself grew up on Rush Limbaugh broadcasts and considers himself a
movement conservative, but he acknowledges that Paul supporters, who come together
via Internet-arranged "meet-ups," come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties.
"We've got liberals, conservatives, libertarians, old, young, all kinds,"
One of the givens would seem to be a disaffection with the Bush administration
on civil-liberties grounds and through a common opposition to the Iraq war.
It was libertarian Paul's fervid denunciation of the war and of other "unconstitutional"
interventions in foreign countries in a South Carolina debate of Republican
candidates three months ago that largely fueled the candidate's current popularity.
Ever since, Paul seems to have downplayed less well-known parts of his platform
- like opposition to the Federal Reserve System - and has mainly been asked
about his anti-war position on venues like HBO's Real Time With Bill Maher,
whose notably acerbic and left-leaning host recently called the wizened 71-year-old
Paul "my new hero."
Paul is also something of a hero to Angelo Cobrasci, the founder of the Shelby
County Conservative Republican Club and editor/publisher of The Mid-South Patriot.
"I'd celebrate big-time if he got elected president," says Cobrasci,
whose support for Paul is based on the Texan's defense of various constitutional
guarantees which Cobrasci sees as being in danger right now. "But none
of us really expect that he'll get that far. If he finished second or third
in a key state, or if he did well enough to become somebody's cabinet possibility,
that'd be great."
Cobrasci had hoped to attract Paul as a speaker for the SCCRC, but says ruefully,
"We found out he was overbooked!"
Like Holley, Cobrasci sees the Paul movement as being broadly based, consisting
of "a large variety of people that usually would not be seen with each
other, Republicans, Democrats, people from 18 to 60."
Conventional wisdom says that the Paul boom will blow over, long before next
year's election, but local leader Holley isn't so sure. "We're right up
there with anybody nationally," he says, and wants to assure Memphians
that there's more, much more, to come.
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