My brother sees them everywhere. He lives in Arizona — a state as red as the desert floor — and he’ll be driving on the highway when he’ll see a hand-made, spray-painted banner along the side of the road reading simply “Ron Paul.” This happens, he says, all the time. On the campus of his alma mater, Arizona State University, he says that among young Republicans, Ron Paul is the cool and standard choice for the 2008 Presidential nomination.
That’s why videos like this make me so angry. To boil it down, CNN anchors are playing some silly game where they ask a Democratic and Republican college student who they think will be the nominee for their respective party in 2008. Thankfully for us, neither of these students is dumb enough to answer such an idiotic question — and, naturally, they are mocked by the hosts. The Republican says she would vote for Ron Paul, leading the female CNN host — Kiran Chetry — to stop her mid-answer and ask if there are any “top tier” candidates she would support because Ron Paul “doesn’t have a chance.” When the Democrat won’t specify a candidate, and says that any Democrat would be better than President Bush, the male host — Rick Sanchez — asks her if she would “vote for Porky Pig” simply because he was a Democrat.
As I said earlier, kudos to the students for not giving into this crap. This is the line of thinking of the hosts:
a) Have college students on the program to ostensibly get their views.
b) When those views don’t conform with the mainstream, challenge them.
c) When they don’t back down, mock them.
Of course, the problem is how the “mainstream” is defined. The implication here is that Ron Paul is not a “top-tier” candidate because he hasn’t raised enough money — the unspoken, fallacious idea being that the reverse is also true. Aren’t we supposed to judge candidates based on their ideas? The Republican student — Laura Elizabeth Morales — does just that, saying:
“You’ve got Giuliani out there, who’s really an anti-gun Republican who’s going to lose a strong base, especially here in the South. And then Mitt Romney kind of flip-flops on his issues. John McCain, I think, is pretty much just ‘out,’ but we really need a strong, solid conservative…”
… which appears to be a well-thought-out argument, and certainly one not worthy of being mocked. When Rick Sanchez virtually asks the Democrat student, Rachel Moore, if she considers who the person is at all when voting — seriously, what kind of question is that? — she deflects him with far more grace than he deserves.
But back to Ron Paul for a second. For all the hubbub of Rudy Giuliani’s supposed torpedo of Paul at the May 15th debate over 9/11, look at these results of the debate as voted on at MSNBC.com. Notice anything? Certainly, this doesn’t conform with the glowing tabloid-cover reports we got here in New York City of our former mayor’s performance — the nation, or at least the nation on the Internet, thinks Paul blew Giuliani (and everyone else) away. Now, I’m willing to admit that these results are likely skewed somewhat toward Paul because he is popular among young voters, who are disproportionately represented on the Internet, but it’s the fact within the fact that matters: Ron Paul is extremely popular among young voters. (The video is one of the most-viewed on YouTube, almost certainly for this reason). No one on the left, not even Dennis Kucinich, has the sort of “outsider/young voter” cache that Paul has. This is probably because “top-tier” candidate Barack Obama steals a lot of it.
It’s pointless to argue over whether these CNN anchors are clueless about Paul’s popularity on college campuses, as they clearly are, but the greater point here is that we make a literal mockery of the electoral process when we ask what the average voter “thinks” will happen — we need to ask them what they think. That’s how good ideas are spread, and that’s what this process should be about. Rick Sanchez, Kiran Chetry and the producers at CNN who promote this type of crap ought to be ashamed of themselves. Sadly, they never are.