A Ron Paul "money bomb" scheduled for today has a higher purpose than merely raising money for the candidate. It's meant to disprove charges that Ron Paul and his supporters are racists.
I've written here about a couple of previous "money bombs" organized by independent Ron Paul supporters-- one commemorating Guy Fawkes Night (and, oddly, the movie V for Vendetta) and another celebrating the Boston Tea Party.
There's another one scheduled for today, but it has a purpose beyond mere money-raising. As Rep. Paul has been gaining ground in the polls and primaries, opponents have revived old charges of racism based on newsletters written in his name back in 1992. The statements in the newsletters were pretty bad, but Paul didn't write them and has apologized for them repeatedly.
More to the point, the statements are incompatible with Paul's political philosophy, which opposes all forms of collectivism: racism, nationalism, sexism, and so on. It's always been clear to me that Paul is no racist; it just wouldn't make sense. (If anything, he should be a little less inclusive, especially when it comes to accepting support from people who share his views on monetary policy but have unsavory opinions on other subjects.)
Unfortunately, Paul's repudiation hasn't succeeded in squashing these libelous claims. I've heard them from friends and coworkers myself. Although they're easily enough dealt with in a face-to-face discussion, the fact remains that the Ron Paul campaign hasn't managed to put them down yet.
Judging from the traffic on Ron Paul-related message boards I've been reading since Paul began his campaign, the vast majority of Paul's supporters on the Internet are socially progressive and vehemently opposed to this smear campaign. Today, they get to put their money where their mouths are.
The "Free at Last" money bomb was scheduled for Jan. 21 to coincide with Martin Luther King day, the Federal holiday celebrating the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that was established in 1983 by another fiscally conservative Republican, President Ronald Reagan.
I don't think anyone can know in advance whether this money bomb will raise more money than the other two ($4.2 million and $6 million respectively), but there's cause for optimism among Paul's supporters. Rep. Paul took second place in the Nevada caucuses last week and now ranks ahead of Rudy Giuliani in total delegates committed to date. If Fred Thompson drops out of the race as some analysts predict, Paul will be in fourth place overall.
What was interesting to me about the two previous money bombs is that they demonstrated how independent supporters can raise money more effectively than an official campaign organization. It's just one more way that the Internet upsets traditional power structures. Today we may learn that the Internet is also more effective at communicating a candidate's political positions.