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Week of 12.14.07

Internet-Empowered Voters
An Interview With Zephyr Teachout

Zephyr Teachout In this extended interview, NOW talks with Zephyr Teachout, the former director of online organizing for Howard Dean's presidential campaign and current Visiting Assistant Professor at Duke University Law School. Teachout compares Paul's campaign to Dean's 2004 run. She also explains what Ron Paul's campaign is doing right with the Internet and what other campaigns can learn from Paul.

NOW: How might Ron Paul supporters change the way a candidate is judged?

ZEPHYR TEACHOUT: One of the things I love about the Ron Paul campaign is how it challenges mainstream media's idea of what are the right metrics of a serious candidate. Typically the mainstream and the blogosphere media says, "Well, somebody's serious if they raise a lot of money." Well, Ron Paul's raised a lot of money. Somebody's serious if they get over four percent in the polls. When he's getting over eight percent now in New Hampshire polls. But there's still this real resistance to calling him a serious candidate.

So he's challenging our ideas of how we measure seriousness. For the past 30 years we have started to think about measuring seriousness in large part because of measuring seriousness through money, in large part because of the cost of TV ads. But what that's meant is that you raise money as a candidate in order to get taken seriously by the mainstream media.

And the value of raising money is more in the earned media, than it is in the actual ad buys itself. We saw that with Howard Dean. He raised millions of dollars in a single day. He spent those millions of dollars on ads, but earned tens of millions of dollars in free media and earned what in campaigns you call "earned media."

And campaigns are very aware of this. And I think it's sad, because we don't actually want to live in a polity where how much money you can raise determines seriousness. And I like the challenge that this is posing.

I think it will force all of us to go to different metrics. When Ron Paul's supporters say, "Well, we have more YouTube views than about else," and The New York Times says, "Well so and so raised more money than anybody else", it's not clear why we should—as democrats—small-"d" democrats value one more than the other. One measures people's attention online, one measures how much money they're willing to give. Which is often a proxy for wealth. So maybe we have to reconsider that.

NOW: Explain the differences between paid media and earned media.

ZT: So paid media is when you buy an ad—typically in a presidential campaign that will be in Iowa, New Hampshire, the early states. It costs some money to make the ad, but the greatest cost is in actually placing the ad on TV.

In the 60s, 70s, and 80s there were so few channels, that if you could get an ad on one of those channels consistently shown, you were pretty sure to reach a lot of Iowa voters, a lot of New Hampshire voters. During that time—and up through the Dean campaign, at least in the Democratic Party—the person who raised the most money consistently won. And what we, the media, political scientists, took from that was, "Well—money raised translates into ads, which translates into votes."

But what started happening as the number of channels exploded, is that we kept that idea. That money raised translates into ads, translates into votes. Even though the line became much less direct.

Now candidates are really hoping for fantastic earned media. Which is to say media in the Iowa papers, on the Iowa station that are presented by people like you. Outside observers. So far better than having 10,000 people watch an ad on TV, is 10,000 people hearing the local TV stations saying, "Ron Paul surging in the polls. Growing grassroots support. His authenticity is touching the hearts of Iowa."

So you sort of use—it's almost like you're laundering money through the mainstream media. Raising money to get the news that you've raised money. And I hold television stations, newspapers and some bloggers responsible for this.

And I think many citizens feel the same frustration. That they want newspapers to be reporting more on candidate records than on how much money something raised. There's an addictive quality to the stories about fundraising. People call it horseracing. I don't know anybody who actually watches horseracing. So you should sorta call it to NASCAR racing or something. Baseball scores.

When I interview someone for a job, and they say, "I am really well-organized. I believe in organization."

You know, that's very well and good, but what I really want to know is—how did they perform in their last job? And for citizens, as well, I'm far less interested in Obama's or Giuliani's platform than in their history. That's where we're getting one percent. And that's where I think we, as citizens, have a responsibility to harass the media until they start reporting more on that one percent.

NOW: How has that trend affected Ron Paul's campaign?

ZT: I do think that Ron Paul's campaign is the closest to something that's outside mainstream media. On the Dean campaign [there was] much more of a feedback loop. We would raise money online and seek and get a lot of attention in ABC's The Note, other political junkie journals.

Which would then lead to the raising more money and gaining more intention. Which would then lead to getting coverage on CBS and in other major outlets. Which would then lead to more people coming to our site and going to meet us.

Ron Paul's campaign is so extraordinary to many of us because even while it was getting massive online traffic, and we knew that people were meeting offline through MeetUps, you'd be lucky to get a whisper of his campaign in a lot of media outlets. Or if you heard about it you'd hear about it as the "strange" "quirky" Ron Paul campaign, as opposed to in a summary of different candidates' positions. You wouldn't, for example, say, "What are the candidates thinking about American debt?"

"Here's all the different positions, including Ron Paul." Instead you'd see one article about the candidates on debt, and another about "crazy Ron Paul" and the gold standard. So he has successfully shown that it is possible to build a blended media political campaign outside of mainstream media. And that's fascinating.

ZT: The Dean campaign and the Paul campaign are really different in some fundamental ways. Paul tends to appeal to people with strong, first-principle kinds of stances. He speaks in absolutes.

He's interested in exactly what the Constitution says, the return to a solid standard. Governor Dean himself is more of a pragmatist. As a governor you have to be. And tended to speak in more pragmatic language. And drew people who saw themselves as pragmatists.

The strongest thing they share is a strong message which is not getting repeated in the mainstream media. And I think it's actually easier to create a separate ecosystem when your message doesn't exist.

In April, 2003, four years ago, ABC's The Note—which is a daily update of the insider view of politics—had a series of articles which would basically make fun of Governor Dean's stance on the war. And say, "No serious contender for the presidency can have this position on the Iraq war."

That changed. And it changed in large part because Dean showed there were a lot of people who were sitting there throwing socks at the television waiting for someone to express a view outside this orthodoxy. Their [Dean and Paul's] different challenges to orthodoxies are quite different. But they did both take on some pretty deep orthodoxies within their parties. And I think that's part of why you see a similar kind of excited response. The sense of relief:
"Ah, somebody is finally saying this for me."

NOW: When you say, "It creates a different ecosystem", are you talking about the Internet, in a way?

ZT: Well the Internet doesn't exist apart from us—anymore than it does for those who are Facebook supporters. They also spend time offline. But it enables a lot of online and offline communities.

"The other big similarity between the Dean campaign and the Paul campaign is that offline activity is at the heart of their online activity."
The other big similarity between the Dean campaign and the Paul campaign, which candidates would be well-advised to pay attention to, is that offline activity is at the heart of their online activity. So one of the first things you did as a Dean supporter, which we actively supported and we played a much larger role in than Ron Paul, is go to a MeetUp offline. Put up posters.

Download posters, put them up all over your town. Write letters to the editor, which is somewhere between offline and online. And donate money.

And you see a similar kind of set of activities in Ron Paul supporters. Get offline, go to a MeetUp. Put up posters. There are posters in every town I've been to in the country somewhere on a post office bulletin board. So there's a deep connection between those two. And that leads, I think, to a much deeper identification of supporters with the campaign. That they think of being a Ron Paul supporter as part of their daily identity, in a way that I doubt you'll see Giuliani supporters thinking. "Well I'm first a New Yorker, second a Republican, third a policeman, and fourth a Giuliani supporter."

It's more who they support, as part of their social, personal identity. And this tie between online and offline is really potent stuff. Those who have been treating online organizing as, "Let's do the coolest, flashiest, neatest thing online," I think have been disquieted because they expect that that's gonna create a lot of excitement. But it doesn't create a very deep attachment.

NOW: Could you talk about how that sense of connection to the candidate is determined by the way the campaign treats them?

ZT: I could answer to two real possibilities with politics on the Internet. One is that you use the Internet as a massive and really effective marketing tool. You build massive databases, you learn everything you can about the people in those databases, you figure out exactly how they can be useful to your campaign, and you ask them to donate money, door-knock, the virtual equivalent of being a sort of army of stamp lickers.

And you may be useful as a supporter in such a campaign. But you're not gonna have a pretty deep identification in the campaign. It's clear that you're taking your marching orders from Hillary Clinton or Mitt Romney.

That they have figured out how you can be useful. The other latent possibility is that it enables groups of people to come together—offline and online, outside of the campaign, do their own scheming, do their own thinking, and take real responsibility for the strategy and the policy of the candidate or group that you're supporting. Almost all the candidates, this cycle, have tended strongly towards the managerial use of the Internet.

The Coca-Cola use. "Let's make the best site we can." I call them Stepford sites. Just beautiful, perfect, nice flash, great signup—perfect UI, which is user-interface.

And you come to those as a citizen, and you feel like, "This is very nicely done and I don't belong here." There's no role for me as a thinking creative person. There's a role for me as a supporter, that's it. And you come to Ron Paul world and there are real calls for help. "We desperately need visibility in this part of New Hampshire, and we don't know how to do it." And that expresses itself in a 1,000 ways. In the tone, in Ron Paul's sort of, "Gee whiz, ah shucks," manner. "Wow, you guys are great, help me out a little more."

Instead of, "I've figured out everything. Don't think too hard, 'cause we've got some really smart people on the task. Just go to this door."

And it's very satisfying to feel like you are being treated as a smart person. As a citizen. As somebody who might actually know more about New Hampshire—because you've lived there for 30 years—than the campaign.

So most of the campaigns have distributed tasks. And the Ron Paul campaign has distributed power. And that's a far more intoxicating and exciting kind of distribution to be part of. Now I like to think on the Dean campaign we worked so hard at trying to distribute power while keeping a strong connection to the campaign. And although we were not intensely hierarchical, we were more organized.

We would send out monthly packets. In fact we hired a great programmer to develop a UPS-like system to send out packets to the 1,000 different leaders of the 1,000 different MeetUp groups in every part of the country. So they could run their own meeting, but they at least knew what we hoped they would do at the meeting. We would send them addresses so they could write letters to people in Iowa, New Hampshire. We would share messages from the governor. So it was some way in between these sort of completely centralization and completely managerial Stepford campaigns.

NOW: Do you think that the idea of using his supporters to basically run his campaign was part of some brilliant strategy that he came up with? Or did he just have no choice?

ZT: I think Ron Paul had no intention and no expectation of this happening. My guess is he was as blindsided by it as anybody. And so it's a hard one to imitate. You can't imagine Hillary Clinton learning from Ron Paul. Because she's not about to be blindsided about anything, God-forbid. So what you can learn, however, is that there is a real value to be gained from centralized power.

Many people have looked at the Dean campaign and said, "Well, it proved that the Internet didn't really work." It is sort of unclear what they're saying there. It depends on what you're asking them.

With the Ron Paul campaign, it's clear that without this kind of decentralized power, he wouldn't be anywhere near he was. He's not gonna win the presidency. And maybe he'll play well in New Hampshire. And if he does well in New Hampshire or anywhere else, it will be because of these other supporters. So it's showing the enormous upside of this kind of decentralization.

And people tend to look at giving away power as being only dangerous. As only having real risks. And, in fact, there's some risks, it's true.

But some candidate—maybe not this cycle, but some candidate—is going to use this kind of decentralized system and really shock the system and become president. But I don't think it's gonna be Ron Paul. So now Ron Paul could have responded very differently.

Which is just to say, Ron Paul did not plan for this kind of outpouring. But his campaign was almost unconsciously brilliant in it's response by encouraging it—being thankful, being respectful of the supporters that did come along. What we've seen in some other areas is campaigns really resisting an outpouring.

NOW: On the other campaigns they have so many more supporters, why aren't they doing similar things? What's the difference between a Ron Paul supporter and these other supporters?

ZT: Well, if you go to, say Mitt Romney's site, or other sites, it's a little bit like meeting a personal website. You get a lot of signals that you can't quite explain. And increasingly, as people live online, we are used to making really snap judgments about somebody's character based on their Facebook page or the way their blog feels or look.

And in 100 little ways, many of the other sites are communicating that all the decisions have been made. The message has been settled on. And they'll have one, two, three things you can do.

And the three things you can do will be very specific, narrow things. And on the Paul site it communicates the opposite. You matter—your genuine support or even your protest support can change the discourse of this country. So there is this underlying story of power that is not there on the other sites.

"Most of the campaigns have distributed tasks. And the Ron Paul campaign has distributed power."
There's some technical choices the campaigns have made as well. It's almost like they got too good. So 2003 was the year where the Dean campaign and other campaigns and mostly the Clarke campaign had been a real innovator. Looked outside and said, "Okay, what is Friendster doing? Can we do the same thing? What is MeetUp doing? Can we use that on our campaign? What are all the things that people are doing in corporate and fun areas outside of politics that we can bring in?" So we've brought them all in.

And we were completely dependent on our supporters. Governor Dean's message was one of, "You have the power." But the underlying message was also, "I really need your help, because right now I'm not being taken seriously because of my position on the war."

"So without you I will not be taken seriously. I am dependent on you." Not, I would like an extra $10.00. But, "You are fundamental."

So this cycle—all these tools have been brought in, and incorporated in a beautiful seamless suite—where you have your profile page and your blog and your event tool. But it's all inside the candidate's sites. And you feel almost like you're walking into a narrow room. This is not your campaign. This is their campaign that you're going to fit into.

But somehow you want the tools to communicate that you guys are actually responsible. The single most important tool that is not being used by most campaigns though, is MeetUp.

And MeetUp is different than all other event tools in one way. It depends upon repeat meetings with the same group of people. So most of the software that was developed on the Clinton site, the Obama site, the Edwards site—I'm not as familiar with the Republican sites, but I think it's the same. Almost all of their tools that enable people to create events and meet together offline, are for one-time events.

A party to raise money. Parties are fun, but they don't create community. MeetUp is structured to create an ongoing community that meets repeatedly. Much more like church. And those communities—if I meet you and I know I'm gonna meet you again, I treat that encounter very differently than if we're here for a day to raise money.

I then say, "Oh—well we live in the same town, what can we do?" That actually is an area where I think the tool matters. It's not just a matter of tone. And I think it was a mistake for campaigns to—if not use MeetUp, build tools that were intended to encourage the church-like—social community, instead of the party.

NOW: Could you talk about what it is that happens when you look on Paul's homepage, and fundraising is what you see? What difference does that kind of transparency make?

ZT: On the one hand you think that Ron Paul's site would be a disaster because if you think of a site as a person and every time you visit that person, that person says, "Will you give me money", you would say, "I don't want to see that person anymore." But if you go to the Ron Paul site, you can find out exactly who has donated in the last 24 hours. And you can actually look up names.

He is sharing exactly how much money he's raising from whom. There's a sense that he's honest—or the site is honest in it's communication of stories. Of stories about Paul. Although there's a cheerleading tendency which drives me crazy on all the sites. "Everything's going great!"

The cheerleading tendency you see on the Paul site and most of the other campaign sites can lead to a sense that the campaigns are really out of touch and they're not being as honest with their supporters as they could. Because it may be true that you have more hits than anybody else, or raised all this money, but it's not true all the news is good.

I think one of the Dean campaign's big mistakes—and I was part of this mistake—was not being more honest at the end of the campaign about the real struggles we were having in Iowa. That having once developed a culture of transparency of telling our supporters—not all of the strategic decisions, but a lot of them. Engaging them in the problems of building support outside of certain orthodoxy. We then—a couple months before the Iowa caucuses—started shutting that off.

Because the news sort of stopped being all good. We weren't in the inexorable rise anymore. We were starting to have bad news days, bad events.

"The single most important tool that is not being used by most campaigns is MeetUp."
I think transparency invites people in such a powerful way. But once you shut it off, I think you're in trouble. You can't do transparency half way. So the Ron Paul campaign, so far, in it's data, has, literally, put it's money where it's mouth is. Or put it's mouth where it's money is. Which is—you are the campaign. "You're part of the staff." And what transparency communicates is that you know as much as we do about where we are in the polls, in the money raising. And that then means that you are responsible in a way that you can't be if you don't know that much.

NOW: And what did this Ron Paul Graphs site do?

ZT: Ron Paul Graphs is a great site. He scrapes data from the Ron Paul site. Which makes available information about recent donors, and creates these fascinating regressions of who has donated. Where are they from. How many MeetUp members there are in any given day. Where they're joining. So you can see in quick, snapshot, math-form, a map of what they call Ron Paul nation.

And the power of example is meaningful. So he's shown that the Paul campaign is comfortable and excited and eager for you to take that information and do war with that. So others then would want to take information and play with it. I see this on Huckabee's site as well.
His site is the most likely to—in the text of their blog—share user-created videos. Some of it started a couple of months ago with user-created match-up of John Stewart saying—"I heart Huckabee."

...

You know, like, funny, interesting videos that no campaign would dare make, because they're a little edgier than campaigns. So the Huckabee blog puts those up. So when supporters come, they say, "Oh, one of the roles I could play as a supporter, is do mash up videos," because they see that example.

The same way the Ron Paul supporters say, "One of the roles I could play is host a MeetUp." So their sense of what it means to be a supporter opens up. It's not, "I can donate money."

It's "I can be creative." Last week there was the Snoopy candidate video on Huckabee's sites—with a 30-second ad of Huckabee as the Snoopy candidate. Which no campaign would make on their own. But it's far more interesting than most campaign ads. So it builds on itself. And again, these are the subtle messages.

It's not that as a citizen you come to this site and say, "Oh, I now recognize that I have multiple roles in this society." It's that these little cues tell you, in the way the cues tell you in a conversation, that certain things are acceptable and wanted. And praised.

Supporters don't like annoying their candidate. So if they get any cues that say, "Just be quiet and give your vote and share our message of change," then they're gonna poll about it. Because they actually are supporters.

They're not out to sabotage candidates. One of the great fears that all campaigns have is, Oh, if we distribute power too much, the people are gonna say really crazy things. And then that's gonna really come back and hurt us. Of course, for the most part, that hasn't happened.

I think it did happen a little bit with Ned Lamont's campaign in Connecticut. But for the most part, supporters are really in tune with the candidate's desires. And tend to be more concerned because they want the candidate to win.

So I think that's a little bit of a misplaced fear. Especially since the press is savvier than that. That they know the difference between a really ridiculous ad that a supporter who is not tied to the campaign made, and the ad that the campaign made.

NOW: Tell me about talking to Paul supporters.

ZT: I did not pay nearly enough attention to Ron Paul, even though I've been being bugged by some Ron Paul supporters. And so after he raised a gazillion dollars on November 5th, I just wanted to figure out what was going on.

You can go to the Ron Paul Graphs website, actually see a list of recent donors. So I called about five of them, and I e-mailed a few others. I had to pick names that were strange enough that you could Google them and find their name.

And I just asked them why they donated. This is a non-scientific sample. The first reasons people gave were not because of the community, because of transparency, because I heard about it online. They were not because it's an Internet phenomenon.

"It's the gold standard. I'm a libertarian. I don't think anybody's talking enough about our financial state. I'm a federalist." So there were these expressions of deeply held ideologies. And Ron Paul has tapped into a lot of people in the country who I think feel like their ideology isn't spoken anywhere. The gold standard is one of the most fascinating to me. Somebody said, "Well, I've been talking about the gold standard forever." And to be fair I was a little skeptical that he'd been talking about the gold standard forever. But he may have been talking—he may have been feeling some real insecurity about the way that we talk about money—and wanted to ask. And had been talking about how we should think about money. You know, these questions that we don't talk about.

What are corporations? What is money? What is a nation? What is citizenship? That are sort of off the table. And one of the things that I think Ron Paul has done is brought a lot of questions back on the table.

He is serving a really positive role in our society by raising them. I think we should ask where we peg money to—and why. And that should be a collective decision, not a decision for the bureaucrats. Because these affect all of us. So I was struck how ideological the responses were.

And there was a range. One guy said, "Well, I've been a libertarian, it was about time to put my money where my mouth is." So I pressed a little harder, I said, "Well, did you find out about him online?"

He said, "Oh, no, I think I've known about him for a long time." Which says something about how we learn about people. We don't say, "Oh, I'm an Internet person, and therefore I will find out about him online."

They wanted these questions to be raised with the raised at the Republican National Convention. And that they thought that this was the way to get them raised. That's a big difference between Paul supporters and Dean supporters. Dean supporters—the initial Dean supporters—might have been more protest. But he's a governor, governors tend to win elections.

Certainly by this time four years ago, the driving force was getting Howard Dean in office. I do not think that's the driving force behind Ron Paul supporters. I think it is getting these ideas to the floor. Opening up conversations about isolationism, money, and federalism—among other issues.

NOW: When we were in Chicago, at a Ron Paul MeetUp there, we were talking to people and even the organizer was saying probably 50 percent of the people in their MeetUp had never been involved in politics before. Why is that?

ZT: Well there aren't very many avenues for people who have these political views. That's one of the sad facts about modern political life, is the enormous role presidential politics plays. So what we saw in the Dean campaign is that getting involved in a campaign was sort of like a gateway drug.

"One of the things that I think Ron Paul has done is brought a lot of questions back on the table."
That once they were involved in national politics, which they hear about all the time in the news, in the blogs, and their friends, then suddenly they had a new sense of power in their own local communities. And once you realize you can actually make a difference on the school board, then you might get involved there. Now most people don't sort of wake up thinking they're gonna get involved in the school board or local politics.

And there are not cultural invitations to engage in the same way there are in presidential politics. These national campaigns invite discussion. They are like our shared canon. Who are you going to vote for president? What are you thinking about that? It's like talking about football or basketball. Sadly, there aren't as many invitations on the local level.

Because once people have fun at these events and—my guess is that MeetUps are fun.

That they're doing politics, but they're also having a good time. Meeting strangers who they can talk to. Feeling respected for their political views.

So what is happening on the Internet—which is to say through fundraising and offline through MeetUps—is transforming into real action. There is no way that Ron Paul would be getting eight percent in New Hampshire if this ecosystem had not been built around Ron Paul. Zero chance.

So if your only metric is winning, than you're hard-pressed to say that any tactic works. 'Cause most candidates lose. Everything fails.

If your other measurement is, did it make a substantial difference in the likelihood of this candidate getting taken seriously? This candidate's ideas transforming the platform. Then the Internet has been an unmitigated success.

The entire Democratic Party became anti-war after Dean, being one of the first group—was one of the first people to stand up and say, "I'm against the war. And I'm against Democrats who support the war." And gained enormous following, and then pulled John Kerry with John Edwards, now all Democratic candidates after him.

So the Internet, in that sense, completely transformed the Democratic debate. With Ron Paul, he will get taken seriously. The questions of federalism and gold standard are at least lingering at the margins of Republican convention discussions.

So it has been an unmitigated success for him. And how can you directly translate ten people in New Mexico into one vote in Iowa? We don't really know. But we know that it can change the debate. So candidates would be foolish not to pay attention to that.

NOW: Why should NOW viewers care what Ron Paul's supporters are doing?

ZT: Well they might care for a few different reasons. One is it should give everybody a sense of power. The fact that a few people—including Trevor Lyman—can really create a shock to the American presidential landscape is amazing.

And he didn't need a lot of money to do it. It means that it's possible for you or me or somebody else who cares a lot about either a candidate at the local level or an issue at a national level. It suddenly creates a sense of possibility. And that's exciting citizens. That we have these new opportunities. Many of them will fail. But we should care because I think it points to a real deep mistrust and skepticism of the mainstream media.

There is some part of the Ron Paul story that is a little bit of expression of anger at how limited our political debate has become. The feedback for a lot of media, I think, is unfortunately very small because we spend a lot of time—or political reporters spend a lot of time—around political staff. And they have their own set of language, metrics, fundraising, and what's serious and what's not serious, and what's okay and what's not okay, and what's crazy, and what's not crazy.

And Ron Paul is just one of many little signs that the rest of the country is actually open to a far more diverse idea of what we could be. And we should be asking far more broad questions, collectively, about what we should do as a country.

NOW: Earlier you gave a metaphor describing the Ron Paul campaign. The relationship between Ron Paul and his supporters. Can you describe it?

ZT: It's so much easier when I have a piece of paper to draw it. So in the days of yore, way back when before the Internet, the days of Gary Hart—you'd have a campaign here, and you'd have all these little supporters out here. And you would put out ads, hope that the supporters heard the ads, and you might hire one or two organizers to go work around those supporters.

So now with Internet you put out an ad, and you have this campaign here, and you say, "Okay, what can I connect to all these supporters out here?" So I think of it as like a hub with lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of connections.

The vast majority of campaigns stop there. They say, "Oh, let's just keep building the number of people that we can grow outside. That we are connected to."

In the Dean campaign—actually I have this chart over my desk—we called it, "The Wheel". And we had an image of a spoke and all these connections. And our primary job every day was to strengthen the connections between these little isolated communities out there, and individuals out there. 'Cause we figured if we could strengthen those connections—the lateral connections—then we would create a kind of loyalty and excitement and creativity that was impossible if all the relationships were like this.

Now the funny thing about the Ron Paul campaign is, he's like a little dot there in the middle. And all the support and excitement and creativity is out here. And there's sort of some connections here.

But most of it's out in the wheel. And he's not gonna win the presidency. But that's a really powerful structure. And probably will outlast the campaign. And probably will go on to influence local elections for a long time.