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Howard, William and Ralph

James Joyner on Ron Paul:

Nader ran as an independent to the left of Al Gore and cost his erstwhile party the presidency. I take Paul at his word that, should he not win the Republican nomination, he'll bow out of the 2008 race. Were he to nonetheless run as an independent, though, it's far from clear to me that he draws more Republicans than Democrats. While there has been a strong libertarian strain in the GOP since at least Barry Goldwater, there has been a social libertarian strain in the Democratic Party even longer.

Dean, though, strikes me as the likeliest analog. Both raised wild sums of money from a highly energized online constituency and seemed to be the only candidate in their party's field that sparked genuine excitement. Neither, though, seemed to have the experience or disposition to pass the "gravitas" threshold expected of those who would be president.

I would agree, however with one little caveat and correction. While I think the Dean comparison works best, I'd add that Paul's campaign resembles Nader's 2000 campaign mostly in the fresh blood it seems to have pulled into electoral politics. Young people, somewhat surprisingly, appear to be jazzed up about Paul.

Nader had the same kind of buzz, and in fact ran on the Green Party line nationwide. So not only did he offer political newcomers a fresh voice, but he provided them with a new party that wasn't the one of their parents. This didn't result in electoral success, but it get the Green Party on ballots all across the country, and for at least a few years, helped them advance their own candidates.

This might even explain the enthusiastic audacity we've seen in so many Paul supporters. They don't want to hear that their guy can't win, and they don't care about the way it has worked in the past. Fresh faces don't care about the conventional wisdom.

It isn't a campaign, it's a "revolution."

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