Congressman, Presidential Candidate, Dr. Ron Paul MD
by Phillip Charlier
It’s surprising to see that as we approach 2008, there are still many people who can’t deal with the reality that the Internet represents real information, and real people. The Internet does not consist of a virtual world of transient information, inhabited by teen geeks and techno-nerds. When an opinion is expressed on the Internet, it is a real opinion from a real person, in the real world. The Internet is as legitimate as any other medium of expression. A dollar earned on the Internet is a real dollar, just like any other dollar.
Yet every time I read a report about Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul in the mainstream press, I notice that the text oozes incredulity and drips resentment. One article even claimed that Ron Paul’s campaign is some kind of hoax perpetuated on the Internet by his own staff members.
The attitude of the corporate hacks-for-hire of the mainstream press is that Ron Paul’s support is less real than that of other candidates because it’s made up of ‘Internet supporters’, and that even Dr Paul’s campaign money is ‘Internet money’. The other candidates, however, gain their support from the traditional media. Support for the likes of Giuliani, Clinton, and other high-profile candidates, comes from them being paraded on TV, discussed on mainstream radio, and endlessly written about in the major newspapers and magazines.
At the same time, the attempt of the mainstream media to avoid mentioning Ron Paul at all, means that anyone who supports Ron Paul, or just wants to know who he is, has to get online to do so. At this stage in history, we should at least celebrate that fact that there is an Internet – a means for the public to become informed and communicate outside the corporate information industries.
What is becoming visible in this campaign is the existence of a social divide, between an independently-informed, Internet-using public, and a corporate–informed, non-Internet using public. The corporate informed have a problem understanding the reality of Ron Paul’s popular support because the only expression of it is in a medium that they don’t understand. When they turn on the TV there’s a Rudolph Giuliani and a Hillary Clinton, but no Ron Paul. His name is consistently left off the polls. When pundits are forced to acknowledge his existence or mention his name, they do so with a snicker and a giggle.
But to those of us on the other side of the information divide, Dr Paul’s support is a free and natural expression of individuals who resonate with his message and policy platform, while the support for other candidates is created by endless exposure of their names and images in the public eye.
Just like any other mass marketed product advertised to saturation point, the Giuliani-Clinton factor rates highly in the polls. It’s like asking which do you prefer – Coca Cola or Pepsi? If you asked the same people what they actually liked about Giuliani’s economic policies, or Clinton’s foreign policy, how many people could give you an honest answer? Ask any Ron Paul supporter and you will get a straight answer: abolish the federal reserve and get out of Iraq.
It’s Ron Paul’s support that is truly ‘real’ and democratic. The money he has raised from ordinary Americans sending in small amounts of money is what Ron Paul’s campaign runs on; while the Clinton’s and Giuliani’s depend on their own wealth, the financial and in-kind support of their corporate cronies, and the lobby industry. Dr Paul’s support is real, and so is his money. It’s the other candidates who represent an artifice and a hoax.