Ron Paul gets disruptive
I can't say I'm a Ron Paul supporter, but this New York Times "analysis" by Julie Bosman of a Ron Paul television ad caught my eye as being a bit off the mark. Consider this:
The advertisement has a low-budget, unpolished feel, but that is unlikely to bother many of Mr. Paul’s supporters, who tend to be extremely devoted.
Let's pause right there. Ms. Bosman's assumption that only "devoted" supporters would appreciate a low-budget television ad strikes me as nuts, or at least naïve. I don't know anybody who likes the premasticated schmaltz sausages that pass for political commercials these days. They tell us nothing, really -- and are, in fact, some of the most tedious and boring crap (excuse me) on televison. If prescription drugs and iPods were sold like this, Pfizer and Apple would be out of business.
The advertisement accomplishes what the Paul campaign said was its modest goal: to introduce Mr. Paul to voters in that state, where he is emerging as a potential spoiler in the Republican primary.
Hmmm. Is he a "spoiler"? Considering that Paul raised $4 million online in 24 hours, he's already looking more viable than some of the other "contenders" out there, like -- what's his name? That actor guy that all the talk shows were buzzing about. The guy with the hang-dog expression. Oh yeah, he was too boring to remember.
For those of us paying attention, Clayton Christensen introduced the idea of the "disruptive" technology. Transistor radios, for example, hit the market by storm in 1965. Nobody saw it coming, except the Japanese. They were "competing against non-competition." Nobody was selling radios to teenagers -- or portable radios to anybody. Suddenly the Japanese were market players in consumer technology.
Disruptively financed Ron Paul is certainly starting to disrupt the political dialogue:
The war on terror and the growth of big government have had a dangerous side effect: the loss of privacy rights for the American people. Both parties have put their pet schemes ahead of our rights. Not me. As president, I won’t stand for it. No national ID card, no invasion of privacy.
This guy is running for president? Nobody else anywhere in the presidential race is "selling" this. He's competing against non-competition. That makes his increasing numbers ... disruptive ... to the status quo.
Hat tip to Seth, who's not endorsing Paul, but merely notes:
When you're trying to sell something new, particularly in a business to business setting, there are always people like Julie Bosman. They are the defenders of the status quo.
They have an important job to do: to point out to everyone the risks of change. To identify potential spoilers.
In the 1990s, Ross Perot competed against non-competition, and totally disrupted the presidential election. Call him a spoiler, but I don't think it's an accident that Bill Clinton and the Republican Congress took up his message and balanced the budget. Four years ago, Howard Dean was the disruptive candidate with online power.
In the end, Perot and Dean couldn't hold it together in the context of mainstream media message making. A lot has changed since then. The web is not on the margins anymore -- it's the new reality that all the mainstream media are focusing on. Just check the hot topics on Romanesko.
Is Ron Paul a "spoiler"? My feeling is that you won't learn much asking the pundits.
[Photo credit: Vince Brown]