Random thoughts on most things from A. M. Craig.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Popular "Unelectable": The Perception Problem Facing Ron Paul

I'm on facebook a lot (too much really; but you should subscribe). Lately Ron Paul has been making frequent appearances in my news feed, where he is always a welcome guest.

I saw a post yesterday that was surprised about Dr. Paul's frequent mention.

The initial post is one we could take days, weeks, or months to discuss and answer, so we'll save that for another time. Each subsequent sentiment expressed in the thread is one I've heard before. After mention of Ron Pauls support for truly free markets, his defense of rapidly eroding freedoms, his prescient foresight of terrorism and economic catastrophes, his reverence for the highest law in our country, and his unquestioned intellectual consistency, the final comment is this:

"[The above] might all be true, but I don't believe he's electable."

Mitch, let's talk about that.

You're not the only one saying he's unelectable. Why is that? What indicators tell you he's not electable?

Is it the polls? The whole purpose of a straw poll is to show which way the wind blows. Paul has performed consistently and increasing well in straw polls. When he's on the ballot, he usually ends up in the top three. He's taken first place as often as Herman Cain and more often than Mitt Romney. If you want to look at online polls, Paul dominates in an almost comical fashion (for reasons I'll discuss later).

Maybe an old white Texan Christian doesn't have broad appeal? False. He's extremely popular with young voters, a demographic largely responsible for electing both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. He's popular with independents and even liberal voters disenchanted with President Obama. He has more donations from active service military than every other republican candidate combined, and more than the PresidentHe has, unquestionably, the strongest grassroots support of any republican running.

Perhaps he wouldn't fare well against the President? Again, it's just not the case. In an article titled "Still no front-runner in the battle for the GOP Nomination" a CNN poll showed that, indeed there is a frontrunner when pitted agains Obama. After wadding through two thirds of the article, the report adds a seeming afterthought;

"Who does best against Obama? Paul. The congressman from Texas, who also ran as a libertarian candidate for president in 1988 and who is well liked by many in the tea party movement, trails the president by only seven points (52 to 45 percent) in a hypothetical general election showdown."
Paul's popularity has only grown since this article was published. Current polls put him evenly matched to Obama, who is spending more money than any political candidate in world history to keep his numbers up.

All of this is record of fact. Yet the refrain persists, "He's not electable." Can I suggest why you might be saying that?

It's because you keep hearing it from the "experts", people you feel you should trust, people who should know. I'm talking about the mainstream media and news.

We all know the MSM impacts the national dialogue. Aside from being a self-evident fact, it's also taught in every news and communication class in the country. It's called "Agenda-Setting Theory" and states basically this: The News isn't great at telling us what to think on a given topic, but it's very effective at telling us what to think about

If CNN and MSNBC decide the death of a bombshell floozy is more newsworthy than the death of U.S. Soldiers, then we end up talking about Anna Nicole Smith instead of the sixth U.S. chopper to go down in Iraq in three weeks time.

Back to the current election; with a candidate performing so well in polls, with such broad appeal, whose popularity keeps rising, you'd think the MSM would have increasing coverage to take advantage of the wave and increase ratings. But it hasn't happened. Ron Paul has been so ignored that he's become the elephant in the room. He was so overlooked at the Iowa straw poll it became fodder for John Stewart's punditry.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2012 - Corn Polled Edition - Ron Paul & the Top Tier
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

To deny it at this point is indefensible. Paul has clearly been given the cold shoulder by the MSM. The congressional veteran of 23 years, member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Joint Economic Committee, and the House Committee on Financial Services, and Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology, has been granted a grand total of 18 minutes, 47 seconds during the last three republican debates. Romney was granted roughly that same speaking time during a single debate.

This brings us to why Paul perform so phenomenally well online. With MSM completely ignoring him, disenfranchised Paul supporters turn to the only place they can, the only communications outlet where their views will be represented: The Internet. YouTube searches for candidates' names show the disparity. Paul has over three times the volume of Romney in the only media ecosystem that is completely democratic in nature.

Put bluntly, he's a pretty popular guy.

Mitch, I hope I've made the concept clear. You're saying Ron Paul isn't electable because you were told he isn't electable. You were told this by people you feel you should trust, people who purport to be expert and objective. But the fact is, self-professed expertise is not objective. The MSM make up a very interested party, and should be seen as nothing more than an extremely visible special interest. You can't trust the words or actions of Fox, MSNBC, or CNN any more than you could trust the objectivity of a lobbyist from the oil, military, or pharmaceutical industries.

One last thought.
Ron Paul is electable. But even if he weren't, should that stop you from voting for him? Is there a prize for picking the winner? After all, this is an election for office, not a horse race.

The sure rebuttal is that by picking an "unelectable" candidate, you lend relative favor to the greater threat, the candidate from the other party. We'll get the wrong guy, you worry.

To any thinking, caring, considerate voter out there, I would hope the options are plain enough. By voting for the beauty queen or party pretty boy, you've already forfeit your voice, and have cast your ballot for the wrong guy all along.