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Week of 12.14.07

Ron Paul and Internet Politics

Our interview with Ron Paul about the "Rally for the Republic" will appear here the week of September 8. In the meantime, watch our popular program about his phenomenal campaign. You can also see an extended interview we had with Paul at the time of this broadcast.

At the intersection of the Internet and politics, presidential candidate Ron Paul's supporters are rewriting the rules of political campaigns. NOW explores how the Texas congressman and his supporters are using the Internet to attract voters—and massive campaign contributions—from across the political spectrum. Supporters include anti-war progressives, anti-tax libertarians, civil libertarians, and even some white supremacists. The common theme is anger over where the country is heading.

"Ron Paul's campaign is so extraordinary to many of us because even while it was getting massive online traffic, you'd be lucky to get a whisper of his campaign in a lot of media outlets," said Zephyr Teachout, Howard Dean's former online organizer and now a Duke University professor.

That anonymity changed when, on November 5, Paul's campaign raised a record-breaking $4.2 million—even though many of his followers have little political activism experience and were acting online without the help of Paul's official campaign.

"I think the message should be the only thing that counts, but you can't get the message out without the money," Paul tells NOW.

Can viral energy and passion in the virtual world translate into real world votes?

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NOW Interview: John Perry Barlow

John Perry Barlow NOW's David Brancaccio interviews online civil liberties activist and former lyricist for The Grateful Dead John Perry Barlow to explore the future workings of American democracy. Expanding on the genius of Kurt Vonnegut, Barlow draws forth Vonnegut's insight and wit from his last major interview on NOW in 2005. While Vonnegut spoke about the end of the world, he also had ideas about the future of America's government. A co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an organization dedicated to "defending rights in the digital world," Barlow expands on Vonnegut's idea for a "Cabinet Secretary of the Future" that would watch over current policy and make sure it wouldn't have adverse effects on future generations.

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NOW: Kurt Vonnegut Interview

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Electronic Frontier Foundation