Tucker Carlson writes in The New Republic:
The first thing I learned from driving around Nevada with Ron Paul for a couple of days: People really hate the Federal Reserve. This became clear midway through a speech Paul was giving to a group of Republicans at a community center in Pahrump, a dusty town about 60 miles west of Las Vegas. Pahrump is known for its legal brothels (Heidi Fleiss lives there), but most of the people in the audience looked more like ranchers than swingers. They stood five deep at the back of the room and listened politely as the candidate spoke.
Until Paul got to the part about the Fed. "We need a much better monetary system," he said, a system based on "sound money, money that's backed by something." Paul, who is small and delicate and has a high voice, spoke in a near monotone, making no effort to excite the audience. They cheered anyway. Then he said this: "The Constitution gives no authority for a central bank." The crowd went wild, or as wild as a group of sober Republicans can on a Monday night. They hooted and yelled and stomped their feet. Paul stopped speaking for a moment, his words drowned out. Then he continued on about monetary policy.
Wow, I thought. The constitutionality of a central bank is not an issue you see on many lists of voter concerns. (How many pollsters would think to ask about it? How many voters would understand the question?) Yet a room full of non-economists had just responded feverishly when Paul brought it up. Hoping for some context, I went outside and found a Paul staffer. He didn't sound surprised when I told him about the speech. "It's our biggest applause line," he said.
Our biggest applause line? There are two ways to interpret a fact like that: Either the Ron Paul movement is more sophisticated than most journalists understand, or a lot of Paul supporters are eccentric bordering on bonkers.
One gets the impression that at first Tucker didn't take Paul all that seriously, drawing the obvious conclusions from his obvious lack of charisma and his clear, but deliberately non-inspirational speaking style; "Obviously," the man is "not presidential timber."
Unfortunately, it's turned out that the MSM idea of "Presidential timber" is Cottonwood. Looks real stately, but there's damn little substance to it.
By the conclusion of the article, it appears that Tucker has grasped the essence of the Ron Paul phenomenon. He's the only candidate who will give you an honest answer to an honest question. You may not agree with him, but at least you know where he stands, and you know he's willing to risk the consequences of telling you something you don't want to hear.
On the other hand, "Cottonwood" Thompson's supporters are circulating this twaddle:
You might be a Fredhead if...
...you blame America last.
...you kinda like it when terrorists are made uncomfortable.
...you think that today's serious foreign policy issues will take more than hillbilly charm and naiveté to handle.
...you suspect the Iran might actually be up to something.
...you prefer movies where American troops are the good guys.
...you think a Senate majority leader who constantly tells us how things are doomed while a war is still ongoing needs a good bitch-slapping.
...you think it's great if a murderer finds God, but that doesn't mean he should be let out of prison.
...you think America's sovereignty is kinda important.
...you think anyone who talks about how the rich aren't "paying their fair share" is a whiny little Communist.
..."great hair" is low on your list of presidential requirements.
...you think someone didn't draw those border lines on a map just for fun.
...call you crazy, but you'd prefer a presidential candidate who actually shares your conservative views.
...you think it's time someone did something about the hippies.
...you'd like Osama bin Laden's next video to be him pleading, "Someone please help me!" before he's pummeled on screen by the U.S. president.
Well, THAT was substance free. But as the saying goes, "nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American People."
It's a emotional appeals to the "If you don't understand it, hit it with a crowbar" crowd. None of it tells us for sure what Thompson is for. Hell, if you think about it (the last thing candidates like Thompson or Clinton want), you realize it doesn't stay a hell of a lot about what he's actually against. But he's DOWN witcha in that redneck 'hood. And that, apparently, is what counts to the followers of "Cottonwood" Thompson.
Ron Paul supporters, on the other hand, while they may well have red necks come by honestly from riding a tractor, are not afraid of studying up a bit to try and understand what the hell their candidate is on about. They don't mind saying - "Austrian economics? What the HELL is Austrian economics? Why don't I just google that..."
And suddenly, there's the whole course load for Econ 301, introduction to free market economies. PLUS some.
These here "internet tubes" have achieved a libertarian dream: they have deregulated access to information. There is no restriction based on race, class, creed or economic standing. There is no "hidden knowledge" - once you have achieved the Gnosis of Google. I'm limited in my learning only by my education and intelligence - and if I can't change the latter, I can definitely add to the former. It's something I do every single day.
So, it's not all that surprising that a crowd of Ron Paul supporters can follow a lecture on Austrian Economics and a terse explianation of the problems with an unregulated and unsupervised central bank.
Aside from the political implications of a broadly educated and informed electorate, there are some incredible social ones, which I've addressed before and which seem to me to presage a time when hierarchal organization will seem terribly quaint, rather like Victorian Engineering, or feudalism.
In my humble opinion, the groundswell of Libertarianism comes from the realization that, whatever you think about the virtues and vices of government per se, the Internet is the basis for replacing a hierarchical, authoritarian government with a networked, non-hierarchical facility for co-ordinating those interested in being co-ordinated.
It's doing that already, brilliantly. I give you the Ron Paul Revolution as a conspicuous example of the phenomenon, and what can be achieved when it's used creatively by intelligent people.
Ron Paul supporters are those who expect people wanting to be placed in a position of authority to have something in their briefcase besides a sack lunch, and he speaks eloquently about re-establishing trust in two critical areas of proper governance - our money supply and the interlocked domains of foreign and trade policy.
It's indisputable when it comes to his favorite topics - money, taxation and the Constitution, Ron Paul is authoritative. He's even made a fed spokesperson cry.
Whether you agree with him or not, there is no question that you'd have to work real hard to credibly dispute economics or monetary policy with him. And he's got a long history of standing up for his beliefs in the face of obvious pressure and all kinds of profit.
That's appealing to the conscientiously liberal as well as studied, plain folks who try to vote their values.