Sunday, August 26, 2012

The wrong way to energize a crowd

Ron Paul’s speech in the USF Sun Dome in Tampa, Florida today, which was live-streamed over YouTube, became another spellbinding performance for his followers.  The capacity and mostly youthful crowd supported him in now-familiar fashion, interrupting his talk with chants of “End the Fed!” “President Paul!” and “Bring them home!”  In most ways it was like the talks he gave this past winter and spring at 33 college campuses across the country - prepared but not polished speeches given to young people in love with Paul's idea of liberty, who were hanging on his every word.

Ron Paul is not the vetted product of a committee.  He therefore is not an outlaw like most politicians.  He actually believes in the Bill of Rights, free markets, and the rule of law.  People love him for this, and for his inflexible backbone.  And they show it every time he takes the stage.  Whenever he was introduced on his college tour they would greet him as a superstar, even when it became evident he would not get the nomination.  They didn’t care; he was the leader of a surging liberty movement, not simply a candidate for office.  He was their hero, their man.  They had found someone over 30 they could trust and admire.

Given such dedication it would not be an easy task to tarnish one of Paul’s appearances.  His audience would put up with almost anything to hear him speak - bad weather, a poor sound system, lack of available seating.  People have climbed trees to get a view of him.  Even the threat of a hurricane didn’t keep his supporters from Tampa.

But how about this - playing loud music when he is introduced and keep playing it until he settles the audience and begins speaking?  And not just loud, but cheap, wherein a group calls his name out over and over, in the manner of a typical political rally for a slick, finger-in-the wind politician.  This is what happened at the Tampa rally today: a drum riff, followed by “RON! PAUL!” Then the same riff, followed by the same “RON! PAUL!”  On and on it went, overpowering the authentic enthusiasm of the crowd, at least for the people viewing it online.  It was a feat worthy of a Romney henchman.  To complete the crime, the same overbearing noise triumphed when Paul signed off an hour later.

The audience of course did not walk out in protest and in fact from their expressions they seemed to ignore it and focus on the man himself.  So if the irritating sounds were in fact the work of saboteurs, they failed.

Ron Paul does not need gimmicks to get the crowd excited.  All he has to do is show up.