Stephanopoulos, the host of ABCs Sunday-morning This Week and that nights speaker at the Folly Theater, a few blocks away, had argued on his show that Paul had no chance of being elected the next president of the United States.
Like adolescent boys spewing stats on their favorite basketball players, the citizens on the corner hyped the credentials of their long-shot presidential hopeful, a 10-term Republican congressman from the Texas Gulf Coast. Aside from those dozen or so ralliers on October 30, Paul has a legion of followers on the Internet more than 72,000 volunteers from nearly 1,300 local MeetUp.com groups, far more than any other candidate. On November 5, Pauls supporters donated more than $4.2 million, making it the largest single fundraising day in presidential campaign history. Paul is a Navy veteran, a licensed obstetrician and gynecologist and an amateur economist devoted to abolishing the IRS and returning the countrys monetary policy to the gold standard. Hes anti-war, anti-big business and anti-federal government. He was opposed to giving Rosa Parks (along with everyone else ever nominated) the Congressional Medal of Freedom, arguing that Congress has no constitutional authority to bestow such an award upon anyone.
Nationally, his followers range from left-leaning college students to neocons who supported Bush in '04.
One of the main local organizers is Deb Wells, who worked at Sprint for 14 years and was a vice president of North American operations at Archos, a consumer electronics company; shes done legal research on a contract basis for the past two years. She says shes seen firsthand how the corporate structure at a company like Sprint can cause a climate of confusion, alienation and distrust among employees who are simply looking for a reliable pension. He wont take any contributions from corporations like that, Wells says of Paul. That says to me that he is a genuine upstanding citizen who is for people.
Other group members echo Wells sentiments about the growing discontent of Americas workforce. Many say that cities would benefit from Pauls plan to abolish the federal income tax and banking systems. Employees of the Federal Reserve branch, the IRS and H&R Block will lose their parasitic jobs and need to find productive work, but there will be plenty of jobs available when we are free again, says Michael Kerner, 60, an engineer at Honeywell and a district coordinator of the Kansas Libertarian Party.
Others speak of their persistent frustrations with the two major political parties. I dont want to live in an empire, nor in a welfare state forcibly redistributing wealth, says 49-year-old IT worker John Weir.
Linda Powell, meanwhile, is worried about the ongoing development of Kansas City SmartPort, an inland customs facility in the West Bottoms where American and Mexican officials would inspect U.S.-made exports. She fears this may evolve into foreign-controlled inspection of imported goods coming into America through Kansas City. If we lose our borders and sovereignty, every other issue is moot, she says.
But when interests are so varied, issues can collide.
At a November 2 fundraiser, the Kansas City group, in collaboration with the Jackson County group, sold $22 tickets for a night of Ron Paul videos, speakers and entertainment by a handful of pro-Paul bands. Around 70 supporters, some familiar with the cause and others new to it, attended the event at the Uptown Theater. Missouri State Rep. Jim Guest of King City said a few words about the cause, then organizers introduced Dave VonKleist, host of The Power Hour, a radio talk show broadcast from Versailles, Missouri, and heard locally on KCXL 1140.