Thursday, October 4, 2007

I never thought ...

I never thought my first main post on this blog would be about politics, but let's dive in head first and see where this takes us.

This story starts about 9 months ago, while driving in Texas. I see on the side of the road a sign touting "Ron Paul for President 2008". I had heard his name mentioned as a candidate, but really knew nothing about him. Actually, I probably knew less than nothing about him.

My immediate reaction was to laugh a bit inside. My thought was, "how funny, this person who no one knows and has no chance against big name candidates is spending money on roadside signs." In time, I started to see more signs and bumper stickers and people waving flyers. I scoffed a bit assuming Ron Paul's interest around Texas was more attributable to him being a Congressman from the Houston area.

Then, something changed. Actually I like to think of it as the "Sean Hannity Effect". I happen to catch this video from the 2nd GOP debate:

I was shocked and amazed when I saw this. Here is someone seeking to have an insightful, open discussion about foreign policy, and he is attacked. Why is he attacked? I'm certain you'd never see such a vitriolic and vigorous response toward any of the big name candidates. Many people will say the "Mainstream Media" purposely looks to support only the Clinton/Guiliani/Obama/Romney campaigns of the world.

However I think the issue at hand is more basic than that. It's human nature to marginalize those who have less money, stature and don't throw the most elegant parties. People like to associate themselves with frontrunners, and this campaign is no different. I think members of the media, just like most other Americans, fall into this trap. Candidates like Clinton and Giuliani have more photo-ops, are on television more often, and generate more fundraising dollars, so people start to assume they are more important than they actually are.

George Stephanopoulos in a recent interview with Ron Paul embodied this smugness and marginalization widely held by many:

Such feelings at a national media level has not slowed what seems to be a significant grassroots effort by Ron Paul supporters. Q3 fundraising for Ron Paul was in excess of $5M, roughly the same amount raised by higher profile candidate John McCain. Over 900 Meetup groups exist around the country with mobilized volunteers. However old habits die hard, and the media outlets have been marginalizing this message by noting the donations and volunteerism are from people on the Internet, as though people who use the Internet are odd, strange or abnormal.

Am I the only one who finds this ironic? Media outlets continually espouse how the Internet, Google, eBay and are powering a new revolution in the American economy, yet people who use the Internet to learn about second-tier candidates and make a donation are odd. Selective listening and messaging at its finest.

So take the time to learn about candidates and their positions, even if they are not the prime candidates. Like me, you might be surprised what some of them have to say.

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