Lessons of the Paul Campaign – Kinky Carole, or We Own the (Perot) Center

“Kinky Carole” was a running gag amongst organizers in Austin. It’s a tongue in cheek reference to Kinky Friedman and Carole Keaton Strayhorn, two iconoclastic, “populist” candidates for the Governorship here in TX in the ’06 race. Neither one was particularly ideologically “sound” from a Paulist standpoint. But then one of the Lessons of the Paul Campaign is that Ideology Ain’t All it’s Cracked Up to Be… perhaps we’ll deal with ideology in depth some other time.

To run for governor, each “independent” had to file a ballot petition list with the Texas Secretary of State. These lists are a matter of public record; I bought ’em for 74 bucks each. Partners upstate got a good portion of them matched against existing phone records. A few of us started phone banking ’em; we got returns of around 7% per dial. Telemarketers are happy with 2%. During our calling for the TX Straw Poll in summer of ’07, we called 10,000 potential attendees – all of whom were former GOP delegates, that is, known party activists – and I think we got perhaps 30 people to actually drive up to Dallas for the Straw Poll. So in my cold calling experience, raw returns of 7% are very good.

While I worked the Kinky Carole list, “old hands” here were following conventional wisdom, the same wisdom that had been handed down by current and former campaign staffers: go into the heaviest GOP precincts and work ’em hard. This was the same wisdom that had gotten Ron Paul around 5% of the vote over and over (assuming that’s really what he got, but that is YALOTPC). These seasoned campaigners were getting nowhere; they’d knock on doors for 3 or 4 days and come up empty handed. Meanwhile I was doing ok in my little South Austin precinct… at least I was doing a lot better than the folks in NeoCon land were doing.

Based on these results, we ranked all the precincts in Austin by their ’06 gubernatorial returns, sorting them according to how well Kinky Carole (plus the tiny libertarian vote) did in each. Basically, we were looking at a 3rd party metric. We triangulated that against having enough GOP support to be worth working (each precinct’s delegate strength being based, in serpent-eating-its-tail irony, on how many votes GOP incumbent Rick “the haircut” Perry got in ’06). Finally we checked each precinct against geographical exigencies, ie, was it “walkable” (flat, houses close together).

Newly armed with our Kinky Carole analysis, we started hammering on the “correct” precincts. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. All of a sudden, every 10th knock was a supporter. The problem became managing time well, the challenge being to not spend too much energy on each newly found supporter, instead keeping up the effort on finding more of the same.

A nice story that. A success story (Paulists treasure them as we haven’t had many). But what is the “lesson”?

For me, it’s this: “revolutions”, whatever their basis, don’t appeal to establishment stakeholders. A modern American political revolution has and will have its core appeal with the “silent majority”, silent because it’s so disillusioned. Our “revolution” has zero appeal to the legacy GOP; it’s appeal is to the disaffected “Perot Center” that knows intuitively that politics in the US is profoundly corrupt. This meme permeates our culture – “Politicians are crooks! Throw the bums out!” – yet the incumbents keep on winning. I’d argue that one of the reasons the Establishment came down so hard on the Paul campaign was that there lurks in the Constitutionalist message not only an ideological resolution to the amoral postmodern statist status quo, but actual hope for some concrete change.

We have been portrayed as the “fringe”, but are we? According to whom? A snobby elite that knows what’s good for the peasantry? By any populist measure, we are Majoritarians on issue after issue. Stop the War. Protect my Privacy. Stay out of my sex, drugs and rock and roll. Don’t steal my money. Control the border dammit. Over and over, this “movement” has the right “message”. The question is, how do we get that “message” out, and how do we foster the belief, the hope, that “movement”, actual change, is possible?

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25 Responses to Lessons of the Paul Campaign – Kinky Carole, or We Own the (Perot) Center

  1. […] scandinaviany3 wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt “Kinky Carole” was a running gag amongst organizers in Austin. It’s a tongue in cheek reference to Kinky Friedman and Carole Keaton Strayhorn, two iconoclastic, “populist” candidates for the Governorship here in TX in the ‘06 race. Neither one was particularly ideologically “sound” from a Paulist standpoint. But then one of the Lessons of the Paul Campaign is that Ideology Ain’t All it’s Cracked Up to Be… perhaps we’ll deal with ideology in depth some other time. To run for governor, each “in […]

  2. Ed Boyd says:

    Chuck (et.al.),

    Excellent bloging Pard. We all gave it one helluva shot and have our unique tales – bad and good – from which to learn. We had quite a few successes here in the Hill Country (Fredericksburg) and all of them boiled down to grassroots methods.

    As you have alluded, it certainly helps to tailor one’s boots-on-the-ground activism with a bit of common sense as far as who to target. That helped us as well. The status quo is “already there” in a position of power and will understandably be a hard-sell even if they actually believe in the idealogical message. “THEIR position ain’t broke, so why fix it?” seems to be the lesson we should learn from their perspective.

    As Dr. Paul himself has so frequently mentioned, we will never have much success starting from the top and working our way downward (as with his campaign), but rather from the bottom and working upward. That’s what we intend to focus on here in our own locale. We plan on doing this in two ways:

    First, we’re already focusing on specific issues which affect everybody and sucking the masses into the fold of activism via attacking such issues. Our first topic is local property taxes and we just held a scarcely announced meeting (in the paper and on radio only one day prior)in which about 140 folks attended. We had a speaker/expert in “fighting City Hall” with respect to tax disputes. It drew a LOT of attention; so much so in fact that we’ve already planned a Part II for this coming Thursday. The point we’ll try to make with such community meetings is to make our locals realize that, Yes, one really can “make a difference” and that such changes can only occur when one gets involved. Any strengths will only be realized when the numbers become adequate to merit it.

    Secondly, we plan on “getting our own elected”. Whether they’re bonifide Ron Paulians or not is frankly irrelevant. As long as they’re on board with the majority of our philosophy, then we’ll back them accordingly. They’ll soon come to realize that we’re a force to not only be reckoned with, but also one which simple logic dictates should be utilized to their advantage. “Ignore us at your peril” so to speak.

    We were so successful at the Precinct/County convention levels this year partly because the neocons-in-charge had run roughshod over so many fellow Conservative-minded people that they ultimately disenfranchised so many true Conservatives that they knocked themselves out of power. Their own greed got them trounced at the conventions.

    Even they (at least most of them) are realizing the importance of our “movement” since one of us (yes, a true-blue Ron Paulian) got elected as National Delegate. This was the first Nat’l Delegate from Gillespie County — EVER! Needless to say, that opened some eyes and it seems to have even opened some hearts and minds as well.

    The Best of Luck to y’all Austinites in your continuing battles for Liberty!

    Ed Boyd
    Hill Country Patriot

  3. greg havlin says:

    Chuck,
    Chuck,
    I do not know if you know me. I am in precinct 366. I was quite active this past winter/spring. I delivered 366 to RP campaign by phone banking & knocking on doors. I was a delegate in Houston.

    The way we get the message out is to do exactly what you are doing. I have sent 3 installments out to my friends & family(80 people). These are my opinions & facts about the state of our country. Obviously, they have a Constitutional Conservative Repub slant.

    After seeing what happened in Houston, the only way we can truly make a difference is get the numbers. We had a huge prescence in HOuston(25%?) and were squashed like bugs. In the sense that we got nothing voted our way. It was a huge victory in seeing that 25% rise up & say, “enough is enough” But, in order to get things accomplished we need voting strength & changing hearts & minds one at a time is the way to do it.

    How do I set up a blog like you have done? PLease advise.

    Greg Havlin

  4. wsc says:

    Hi Chuck – my political profile is like yours in the sense that I too was “aware” prior to Ron Paul, but never active (e.g. giving time and money). The Ron Paul campaign experience has affected me in more ways that I can say: not just politically, but spiritually, personally, etc. And I’ll be honest: the experience has been more painful than anything else. All that said, here’s one core idea I’ve arrived at:

    As far out as this sound, one of the most plausible ideas I’ve come across for potentially affecting change would be for the Ron Paul grassroots to literally/physically RELOCATE to a handful of specific states.

    I believe this MAY be an answer simply because the resistance level in the GOP and media is so strong, and the independent thought of MOST Americans is in such grave decline. If we relocated, we could potentially bring enough influence on the local folks to give them the courage to think for themselves, while also taking over local government positions, etc.

    Even this is a L-O-N-G shot… but I honestly wonder if, to this very hour, most Ron Paul supporters realize the level of corruption we’re up against.

  5. Bob says:

    Brilliant analyses & the tools to win the Governs spot in 2010. If Kinky & “Grandma many names” Carole had combined votes Governor Good Hair would be getting $10 hair cuts. _B

  6. BZ says:

    Hey Chuck,

    Your analysis appears to be that the RP phenomenon was populist in nature and not ideological. To my personal dismay, I fear you are correct. For me, my RP activism came as a reaction to a very internal transformation that radicalized by own political beliefs. He made me believe that it was OK to be purist on the U.S. Constitution, on federalism, on classical liberalism. For instance, when I watch and listen carefully to the political thoughts of RPers in this near-post-campaign moment, I’m often filled with dismay and find myself constantly thinking “Geesh, didn’t anyone actually listen to what Dr. Paul SAID?!”

    Having exposed by personal dark cloud, I find a silver lining in your analysis: that there IS, in fact, a core to the RP movement that won’t fade so easily: disdain for taxes, a general distrust of government and their officials, a general belief in peace, and an intolerance for corruption. While I’ll still likely harbor a worry that lack of philosophical foundation can cause one or more of those positions to slip on infirm ground, I will choose to take comfort that you are correct: that freedom is and will remain popular.

  7. Aaron says:

    this strategy was golden…the GOP is wholly owned by the enemy so why focus on them?? I remember going down to precinct 358 it was like “shooting fish in a barrel”…it is a strategy that works! Keep it up Chuck!

  8. Change for the better is nothing to laugh or cry about. But it has become painfully clear to me that unless the change comes from within my so-called self, I will not be able to change others no matter what the extenuating circumstances are blowing in the wind. The problem with this premise is that the world as we know it may no longer exist by the time my metamorphosis has been self realized. So with that in mind and heart…if I see another being hurting a child or animal they will be dealt with forthwith. Until then I will continue to VOTE my conscious. Peace, Daniel

  9. Norman says:

    These are just some random thoughts that came to mind while reading this post…

    The Kinky-Carole (kinkarole?) analysis was, in my opinion, a stroke of brilliance for the Austin area. But the question is… is it complete? And to some extent, you answered the question. The jackpot of political activism is *how to tap into that 40-50% of Americans so disillusioned / apathetic that they don’t vote*?

    This is the question that every single campaign since 1900 failed to answer, and the Paul Campaign failed to answer it as well. Not that we weren’t actually trying…

    To be sure, the response was indeed tremendous (let’s not underestimate the impact), and as Ron Paul said he didn’t think he would get the support that he got. He also said it might take another generation (or two) before everything comes to fruition.

    Again, random thoughts…

  10. Daniel McCarthy says:

    “one of the reasons the Establishment came down so hard on the Paul campaign was that there lurks in the Constitutionalist message not only an ideological resolution to the amoral postmodern statist status quo, but actual hope for some concrete change”

    Following this country’s constitution is a change? Sadly yes. So what about a constitutional convention? I have read that a majority of states have unsuccessfully at some time over the last 100 years petitioned congress for one. Texas alone has requested it like 33 times I want to say. Let’s alert the disillusioned that there is a reason they don’t care about politics, while simultaneously reaffirming the supreme law of the land.

  11. lpcowboy says:

    Hi Daniel,

    States don’t need the fedgov’s permission for a con-con. Illinois, for example, holds them at least every 20 years. Texas could hold one if it wanted to. Unfortunatley at this time, many states would only support socalist proposals at such conventions.

  12. texaspatriot says:

    “wsc Says:

    As far out as this sound, one of the most plausible ideas I’ve come across for potentially affecting change would be for the Ron Paul grassroots to literally/physically RELOCATE to a handful of specific states.”

    FYI… did you know Texas is practically on it’s own power grid?

  13. Blake Stephenson says:

    Chuck, a really interesting, powerful premise. I am very curious to hear your thoughts about “one of the Lessons of the Paul Campaign is that Ideology Ain’t All it’s Cracked Up to Be”. I think there must be a connection between Ron Paul’s success and Obama’s success which I think is similar to Kinky Carole’s success against the establishment GOP candidate. As much as Obama in some ways is a continuation of business as usual, people are genuinely inspired by the possibility of change. Obama cannot deliver on his promise of change given his beliefs about the role of government, but people are inspired by the possibility he represents and are willing to give their time and their money in support of this possibility. Maybe the first step is to get people to believe that something different is possible and then, now that they are paying attention, somehow help them learn about what really works – free markets, sound money, limited government.

  14. Linda Curtis says:

    Hey Chuck:

    I really like your blog. I agree with much of what Blake Stephenson said about the Paul, Obama, Kinky, Carole similarities. And, I would add that what inspires people about Obama has little to do with his positions on issues. Even the most unsophisticated voters know that Obama (or McCain, for that matter) have to watch what they say to get elected. Obama’s message is what inspires. T hat is that the problems facing our country aren’t going to be solved without the American people unifying and activating and self-organizing.

    All movements for change have this message — it’s about the people stupid! The challenge for us — as organizers — is to help shape these movements in to something truly revolutionary, that continues after the election, regardless of who’s sitting in Washington.

    Most of these candidate movements fall to the wayside after the election. Will the same be true for the “Paulist” revolution? Can the Paulists come together with the Obama revolutionists (many Obama activists are very sincere in their desire for real change), and others who’ve been continuing since the days of Perot, Fulani and Ron Paul ’88?

    I’m interested in answering that questions — in the organizing process.

    And, hey, Chuckie, you forgot to tell them where you learned about the Kinky-Carole thing!

    Linda Curtis – Independent Texans

  15. chuckyoung says:

    @Greg:

    “How do I set up a blog like you have done? PLease advise.”

    I just signed up here:

    http://wordpress.com/signup/

  16. Brian says:

    Linda Curtis,

    I will never endorse the globalist, c.f.r., neo-con owned Obama. My eyes have been opened this election season to the ills of both parties and their handlers. Please do not mine this blog for support of that man.

    RON PAUL FOR THE LONG HAUL
    RON PAUL TO END IT ALL

  17. Liv Letlive says:

    Difficult as it would be to wrest this state from our would-be masters, there’s no question Texas could be self-sufficient economically. Maybe the widespread anger over the Trans Texas Corridor can be channeled into leaving the abusive relationship that is the United States and becoming the Republic of Texas once again.

    The Oklahomans just declared their sovereignty from the Feds…(passed 92-3) and we ought to follow their example.
    http://www.ok-safe.com/files/documents/1/HJR1089_int.pdf
    http://www.okhouse.gov/51LEG/Leg_Votesxx.aspx?include=okh01983.txt

  18. saul says:

    Chuck,

    Hi, man. Nice blog.

    I guess my take is that there is something more fundamental going on. It is very difficult to understand and even to articulate, and so we all do like the drunk that looked for his lost keys under the streetlight because there is where the light is, not because there is where he dropped them.

    An imbecile in the White House for eight years does not just happen and to attribute it to the neo-cons, assholes as they are, or to Karl Rove, ditto, etc. seems too easy, too obvious, almost as if they were deliberate distractions.

    My analysis these days starts with the premise that the Bush administration, as an event, implies that the collective subconscious of the American people is under heavy and successful manipulation. No meta-physics meant here. I essentially start out by equating the Bush administration with the premise “the collective subconscious of the American people is being manipulated”. It is rather stating the obvious, but sometimes that helps with difficult problems.

    I read an article in Harper’s a couple of years ago that touched on this subject. It went over how the very nature of the American education system was deliberately designed during the Wilson years to try to ensure that the nation had ample supply of trades-people with little or no interest in the liberal arts and particularly public policy.

    When a sitting president of the United States publicly admits that he is “not the kind of guy that thinks about what he does”, and he is applauded for it by half of the American people, one has to wonder if the Wilsonian system has not worked all too well.

    My take, is that unless we then come to understand the details of the manipulative mechanism and device ways to break it, we can canvass and march, etc., until the cows come home and it wont make a bit of difference.

    -s.

  19. jod raider says:

    UP ON THE ROOF top , click,click , click, HERE COMES OLD SAINT NICK. STILL dreaming? PRESIDENT that provides sovereign rights. The controlling party , and U.S. CONGRESS that allows resolutions AND bills that reintroduce individual rights and stops martial law? PUBLIC that really cares about rights? HOW about all those that do not believe there are any problems? YES, I know WILLIAMSON is tough nut to crack but, then there is BURNET,DALLAS,BRAZOS COUNTIES THEY ARE NOT A PIECE OF CAKE EITHER. MAYBE YOU start to work on your on sovereign rights of the REPUBLIC ,start a garden, learn how handle yourself in court, buy 2nd amendment protection, and work with others that doing are the same thing. OR you can wait till hell brakes loose , and then ask for help from the government. DO not ask me at that time for help. I’LL be fighting my on battles or on my way to heaven. signed, SON of the REPUBLIC

  20. jod raider says:

    Do not distribute,copy ,print,and store my MESSAGES. NUMBER 20. IS 4501 COPYWRITE. THIS MESSAGE IS FOR ENTERTAINMENT PUPOSES ONLY. NO LEGAL ADVISE IS GIVEN, NOR IMPLIED!

  21. Akus says:

    You’ve stated: The question is, how do we get that “message” out, and how do we foster the belief, the hope, that “movement”, actual change, is possible?

    There is no question, this is very simple. Start winning. I say our biggest problem was not convincing people that Ron Paul was a good guy, our problem was that no one took us seriously, because, let’s face it, Ron Paul himself didn’t take this seriously. Did he ever fight? No. Did he ever looked like he really really wants to win? No. So what ammo could I possibly have had for that guy or lady who opens her door, listens to me, and then says I like him but he can’t win? None.

    These movements are dime a dosen and they never win anything. Why should anyone, including myself, take a movement like that seriously? Win something for God’s sake, then come talk to me….

  22. Brandi says:

    The only thing I want to comment on Chuck is that I appreciate the poetry in your words, and you are a brilliant writer, however you have to realize that if you want to be taken seriously in this world and relate to 95% of our population; You are going to have to convey it to us (yes I am one of the 95%) in a way that relates to us personally. Being a psychological “guru”, I understand the different personalities there are in the world, and in order to make a difference you have to be able to communicate with everyone. Big Words, Big Cars, and Big Heads will not get you anywhere. (Just look at the gas prices)…. Passion, (which you have A LOT of) Understanding and Relating to people on a personal level WILL however. That is why Ron Paul made such an impact… because he spoke in terms that people could relate to and understand… I would LOVE to meet his PR manager…. Whoever it was; was a genius!

  23. Brandi says:

    I would also like to comment on Akus and Saul… interesting names…… There can not be any “movement” if people do not make a STAND. If you follow the “main stream” you aren’t MOVING anything, therefore CHANGE will not take place. There is NO SUCH THING as the “LESSER OF TWO EVILS”…. Criticize all you want, but you will not be laughing much if YOU are drafted, or if your CHILDREN are drafted…. (do you know how to bypass that???; I DO)….. You will not be laughing if there is another so called “impact” on the U.S. You will not be laughing when the U.S. declares war on Iran, or martial law; and you will not be criticizing others when you have No Civil Liberties AT ALL to speak of… Ron Paul may not have been taken seriously, but what is it that YOU personally take seriously? Personally for me I am a 31 year old women that would like to( but at this point) do not plan to have children for fear that when my grandchildren would be born they would inherent a life of led by “Hitler.” Think about what your options are… if you want to live in a communist country, I am sure there are still a few to pick from, if you aren’t already living in one…… I am not saying you have to vote Ron Paul, as a matter of fact I am as disgusted by politics as you are, however, in order to change things you have to be willing to think “outside the box”. That is what our founding fathers did. That is why we Declared our Independence; and that is why we are the “Land of the FREE”. (and when I say FREE I don’t mean welfare).

  24. Manish says:

    Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself as succeeding. Hold this picture tenaciously. Never permit it to fade. Your mind will seek to develop the picture…Do not build up obstacles in your imagination.

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