Reading the posts at A Watauga Conservative about "the enthusiastic group of young supporters of Ron Paul" who showed up at the local Republicans Christmas Party (both the posts by Don Clark and the comments from some of those Paul supporters -- Pauleroids?) ... one can't help noticing certain parallels to 2004, specifically to the Kucinich people and their impact on the Democratic Party four years ago.
The local Republicans are doing exactly the right thing in welcoming the Pauleroids into the party. Many Democratic officials in some North Carolina counties did not welcome the Kucinich people four years ago, which accounts for the subsequent uprisings in those county parties. Staunchly anti-war, dedicated to a vision of the future NOT shared by the leaders of their respective parties, NOT given to compromise, both Kucinich people and Pauleroids have offered a challenge and an opportunity to their respective two parties.
The next shoe will drop early in 2008, when the Pauleroids face the inevitable result of their enthusiasm and their unprecedented political fund-raising ... when Paul gets precisely nowhere in the Republican nomination process. Then what?
The county parties that have embraced the Pauleroids, listened to them, given them roles to play, will have a shot at keeping their energies at work through Nov. 2008. The parties that alienated them early on (primarily because Pauleroids hate George Bush almost as much as the Kucinich people did) will suffer without them, or contend against them, for they are a force to be reckoned with.
Worst case: Ron Paul mounts a third-party challenge, a distinctly rich possibility, especially given Paul's already proven ability to raise impressive and sudden cash.
During an October 24th interview with MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell, Paul rather significantly left the door open a noticeable crack: "No, I don't plan to run in a third party. That's not my goal. But if we have a candidate that loves the war and loves the neocon position of promoting--"
We'd love to have heard him finish that sentence, but O'Donnell cut him off. (The difference between Norah O'Donnell and a stump is entirely negligible.)
The Pauleroids are NOT about compromise, especially on the war, and we don't see a potential winner of the Republican nomination who is going to energize them like a Ron Paul.
We'll be interested in seeing what becomes of all that mutual enthusiasm between local Republican power players and the Pauleroids by, say, next September.