What is faster than a liberal? More politically powerful than a lobbyist? Able to leap Ben Bernanke in a single bound? It’s..it’s….Ron Paul action figures! Representing a new wave of politically clever campaigning, the figures are being sold by Revolution PAC with all proceeds going to support Paul’s run for president. And who can blame Paul or his supporters for thinking outside-the-box, considering Paul’s main obstacle in running for the White House.
Since Ronald Ernest Paul first emerged on the presidential spectrum in 1988 as the Libertarian Party’s nominee, equal coverage has always been an issue. In his inaugural presidential campaign in 1988, Paul’s received little attention even within his own libertarian party. Garnering not even 1% of the vote in the presidential elections, nobody seemed to mind as George Bush went on to defeat Michael Dukakis.
A decade later in the 2008 presidential elections, not much had changed. While Paul opted for the Republican nomination that time around, his congressional record in the previous ten years apparently gained him little or no respect, perhaps evidenced by the fact that FOX News chose to leave Paul off the debate invitee list.
Has the Paul campaign experienced any difference in treatment in 2011-12? Certainly the age of free-social media advertising has helped level the playing field, giving all candidates an equal voice, right? (Did anyone realize that the Socialist Party of California Chairman, Stewart Alexander is running! Or Fred Karger, the first openly gay presidential hopeful?)
In a recent media report published by the Pew Research Center, Texas Congressman Ron Paul received the least amount of news coverage of all, serious, GOP candidates (astoundingly, he was even beat out by Sarah Palin whose presidential campaign this year…..oh wait). While Pew’s report does state that Paul received a great deal of attention in the blogosphere, as well as an overall positive spin, this should not be equated to things like mainstream media coverage, or time and attention garnered in the one too many GOP debates.
Even more damming evidence against Paul’s fair coverage emerged as he announced his “Plan for America.” Contrary to ex-running mate Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan or Mitt Romney’s 59 point proposal, Paul’s plan has received little attention even by the endlessly hungry 24-7 news cycle. Maybe it just needs a catchier moniker?
The lack of attention attributed to Ron Paul could easily be attributed to his “radical” ideas, but why hasn’t his vision caught on with more of those dissatisfied with status quo politics? With the continuing malcontent rising in the American voice and Occupy movements, many citizens are completely dissatisfied with “politics” in general. For instance, in the 2008 election, 56.8% of the voting population turned out, leaving nearly half the nation at home. While that percentage is considerably large relative to past elections and the highest since 1968, it still leaves close to a hundred million people who decided to abstain.
On one hand, they are the apathetic, the disinterested, and the jaded. If a candidate could tap into the lethargic voting base, the political scene could dramatically change in an instant. On the other side of the spectrum, we have the Occupy Wall Street groups whose platform, though admittedly undefined, more closely resembles Ron Paul’s positions than any other candidate on either siade of party lines. Surely the ultra-libertarian Paul and these groups could form a politically strong symbiotic relationship that, if nothing else, should garner Paul more attention than he is getting.
In the past decades of Paul’s political career, the narrative on him certainly has been that he is a “fringe candidate”, a “kook”, and at best, someone whose ideas were interesting but just so crazy that they shouldn’t even be considered a realistic possibility. But as the Occupy Wall Street protesters like to remind us, aren’t we in need of some radical change? If the country is to reverse it’s a trajectory, one in which the majority of Americans believe is going in the wrong direction, it won’t be made at the margins with tax tweaks or spending cuts here and there. Systemic change, the kind President Obama promised yet hasn’t seemed to deliver, is necessary. In which case, taking Ron Paul’s ideas more seriously should be more than just an interesting notion.