Spontaneous order

Wow.  One guy gets a crazy notion in his head, and a few weeks later, Ron Paul sets a fundraising record:

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, aided by an extraordinary outpouring of Internet support Monday, hauled in more than $4.2 million in nearly 24 hours.

Paul, the Texas congressman with a libertarian tilt and an out-of-Iraq pitch, entered heady fundraising territory with a surge of Web-based giving tied to the commemoration of Guy Fawkes Day.

Fawkes was a British mercenary who failed in his attempt to kill King James I on Nov. 5, 1605. He also was the model for the protagonist in the movie "V for Vendetta." Paul backers motivated donors on the Internet with mashed-up clips of the film on the online video site YouTube as well as the Guy Fawkes Day refrain: "Remember, remember the 5th of November."

Paul's total deposed Mitt Romney as the single-day fundraising record holder in the Republican presidential field. When it comes to sums amassed in one day, Paul now ranks only behind Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton, who raised nearly $6.2 million on June 30, and Barack Obama.

Left out of this Associated Press account is the genesis of the November 5 campaign:  A guy from South Florida more or less tossed out the idea on message boards, and it just took off.  It happened with no input from the Paul campaign.  There was no central organization to it.  It was a completely grassroots phenomenon — just like his Meetup groups, his YouTube dominance, and indeed the fundraising itself; Paul's entire take from political action committees is a teensy fraction of one percent of his total.  No other candidate can remotely make that kind of claim.  (And the total number of contributors yesterday — 37,000.  That's an average contribution of about $115.  Breathtaking.)

Paul himself is a little bit awed by it, a point he made last week during his interview with Jay Leno.  I wish he'd have gone a step further and pointed out the intimate connection between this lack of top-down direction, this spontaneous order… and his own philosophy of government:  You don't need some sort of authority figure telling everybody what to do when passionate people, driven by a good idea, will accomplish great things on their own.

Anyway… as of this moment, the Paul campaign's fourth-quarter fundraising total is $7.26 million — more than halfway to the goal of $12 million.