Ron Paul Poised to “Sanjaya” Republican Primaries

It’s hard to watch the news anymore without seeing bemused analysis of how Sanjaya Malakar manages to stay on American Idol. The contestant is known for his unique hairstyles and singing off-key. Perhaps his greatest appeal to his base is his ability to undermine the establishment.

As you may have noticed, the Republican party’s version of the “American Idol” popularity contest is under way, and one of the candidates is standing out for his popular support – especially on the Internet – is Texas Congressman Ron Paul, also known to Republicans as “Doctor No”. The neo-con faithful are uneasy at the prospect of his success because of his long-standing commitment to adhere to the US Constitution in his votes. They’re coming out swinging.

Conspiracy Theories
Some have accused call centers in India of gaming the system by calling in thousands of votes from overseas. Others put their stock in the influence of Howard Stern’s support for the website “Vote for the Worst“, a campaign to “help the amusing antagonists stick around”. Fueled by hype surrounding “the crying fan” (Ashley Ferl), others view his success as a direct result of massive support from emotional pre-teens who think Sanjaya is dreamy. We can’t discount the possibility that FOX is behind his success – when other networks are promoting your show every morning you’ve got to be doing something right. Upon elimination, one contestant explained – it’s not a singing contest – it’s a voting contest.

It doesn’t take long to find odd occurrences surrounding Ron Paul’s success. Over the span of his fifteen-year career in Congress (he is an Obstetrician and Gynecologist by trade) he has faced obstacles from his party and traditional party allies. After gaining the trust and support of one district, he was re-assigned to a different district with a completely new group of constituents. He recovered and was recently re-elected with a 20% margin over his opponent. The NRA even took a swipe at him, despite being a staunch supporter of the 2nd Amendment (and all of the rights enumerated in the Constitution), and awarded him with a “B” rating as a result of voting against NRA sponsored legislation that he found to be unconstitutional. His Democrat opponent received an “A” rating.

Despite the efforts of Congressman Paul’s detractors, he has seen impressive support online – and surging support in traditional polls as a result of his unique blend of anti-war, small government, and fiscal conservatism. Early on, Ron Paul took the lead on MySpace which recently announced an “Internet Primary” via their recently launched “Impact Channel“. Since then his vocal online supporters have promoted him with rabid enthusiasm in any number of online polls. His numbers were so much higher than expected that several poll operators have had second thoughts about including him since he detracts from attention for traditional Republican candidates. Even the Wall Street Journal slammed his supporters for “ballot-stuffing”, yet whenever poll operators think they’ve found a way to mute his support, he surges again to the top among Republicans.

Some of the most vocal cries have been among the Digg community. There, assertions are made that because articles on Ron Paul are frequently and prominently supported, he must be hiring scores of people to molest the results. Either that or assertions that Paul supporters are abusing the free democratic system at Digg by actively voicing their opinions – an activity that the site was intended to promote.

Unlike the case of Sanjaya, Ron Paul’s amazing successes online and in fundraising have been largely ignored by the mainstream media. When there hasn’t been a total blackout, coverage has often been amateur and antagonistic. Not all support has been as hostile, but for the most part positive interviews have been under the radar.

Youthful Exuberance
When it comes to Sanjaya, the most likely explanations for his success seem to be massive support from the young and idealistic who believe that American Idol really should be an opportunity for anyone to make it big – instead of serving as a large focus-group, controlled by the recording industry, and manipulated to deliver a product with pre-tested mass appeal. For the young-at-heart monkey-wrenching supporters of Vote for the Worst, the idea is to take a stand against being told what to like by the media. A similar thing happened in April of 1998 when People Magazine was surprised by the emergence of “Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf” as the winner of their Internet “Most Beautiful Person in the World” Poll. The people had discovered that despite the mainstream choices they had been provided, they could deliver a message to the big media puppet masters. People responded, as so many other shameful organizations such as Pajamas Media have, by ignoring the results and declaring their favorite a winner.

This is what the younger, better educated Internet set are doing with the primaries. They are speaking through support of candidates like Ron Paul to the mainstream media and the political establishment. They will not stand for unconstitutional election systems and media bias. They’ve discovered that on the Internet their voice can be heard – and they’ve discovered that the forces that attempt to steer them in day to day life are also making inroads on the net.

The Future
In the case of Sanjaya, I’m more amused at the fact that some people see the mindless “American Idol” popularity contest as being ruined. It’s the same sort of joy one might feel at the end of an 80’s movie where the nerds eventually win out at the end when the conceit of the popular people backfires.

A time is coming where the people will seize control of the political system as they have this television show. The scores of eligible voters who pessimistically ignore the polls may soon realize that they outnumber the media-programmed drones and send a resounding message to the powers that be. The blogosphere is already rumbling with the recognition that technology has empowered the people to make their own ads and commentary that can reach immense audiences. There is also a bit of trepidation at the uncertain future that may result. Nobody is as fearful as the media mouthpiece industry that ensures its profitability through campaign ads.

Ron Paul’s candidacy embodies the novel idea that our officials should abide by the US Constitution and merely live up to the oath of office. That is the central idea, along with an understanding of the Constitution that drives all of his policy decisions. The first thing that should strike you when faced with a Ron Paul detractor should be “Why does this person think our officials should ignore their oath of office?”.

It’s a question that should be asked often of candidates and their supporters alike. And as more people get to the root of that answer, support for Congressman Paul and candidates like him can only grow.

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