September 2011

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J'accuse Ron Paul of Media Coverage Failure

by The Libertarian Heretic

I fear this may be outdated by the time it runs. I fear even more that it will not be. And I fear most that the proper response in this situation is to blame the victim and his cohorts.

The story so far. As of the time of writing and submission, a recurrent complaint runs that libertarian geriatric hero and frequent Presidential candidate Ron Paul is getting insufficient media attention to his campaign. This occurs, so the complaint runs, despite the candidate's consistent high position in polls, his long-term standing as a successful politician, and aggressive active money and support.

The above is indeed a fair and valid complaint. And Jon Stewart's takedown of this was amusing and dead on.

Ron Paul supporters also allege that the establishment disdains and fears his fundamental questioning of institutions the establishment thinks are Seriously Necessary for society. These include a national bank (the Fed), military bases all over the planet, and Responsible Regulation.

The above is also a fair analysis. Ron Paul is indeed deemed not a serious candidate and so dismissed as one not to be seriously covered.

(Apparently, it does indeed seem to the press, more serious and less subversive candidates are those who deny the theory of evolution, declare hurricanes divine judgment, or may believe that God lives on the planet Kolub. Or, on the other side, they are Presidents who wage war without even consulting Congress.)

It's all unfair and even a bit silly. Still, we should identify the main problem, and it is not in the media.

No, J'accuse Monsieur Ron Paul,. . . Oh, excuse me, ye passionate supporters, j.accuse Doctor Ron Paul, as the core reason for his own unfair marginalization in the press.

And also responsible are certain weaknesses of his supporters. (And I suppose I am one of the supporters as I'd vote for him if on the ballot, or write him in, if not.)

Look: if Ron Paul isn't getting the fair level of coverage from his successes, it is ultimately his responsibility, along with his campaign and political fan base.

Why? Because there is nothing to stop his own efforts, led by his campaign and amplified by his supporters, from revving up the pressure on the media. That's the meaning of being a serious candidate.

You don't get enough press? You go out and get it. That's what serious candidates do, rather than send out intermittent "Money Bombs" -- internet appeals for single day contribution dumps.

We should be hearing more about how the Paul campaign is aggressively acting, including spending its "Money Bomb" loot on efforts to engage the media qua media. (Shout out to you, o Randians, with the qua).

We should be hearing about organized efforts to engage or even harass the media: phone banks, letter campaigns, sit-ins, even boycotts of news sponsors. There should be bombfulls of reports of arm-twistng of party leaderships to use their media and publicity "pull" unless they play fair, possibly under the real threat of a 3rd Party spoiler campaign.

We should be seeing full page ads asking "why the blackout?", Or maybe other more effective things that far cleverer campaigners, who are being paid by money bombs to know how to do and lead this kind of stuff, can develop. Creative supporters can initiate their own steps (whining to newspaper ombudsmen is a mere start).

And money from "Money Bombs" can help in the above. But as necessary, if not more so, are time, strategy and effort by a campaign which is aided by organized, driven and well-directed supporters of which there are potentially very many.

Instead, though, we hear, other than whines. . . Crickets.

Instead, we see a horizon free of anything like ads or demonstrations or other noise, even political campaign threats, and amidst the crickets is no rumor of cigar-room or production-room wars to press for fairer coverage.

Instead, you just overhear periodic hiccups of. . . "MONEY BOMB!"

For the above reasons, again, Ron Paul is truly a non-serious candidate.

Now why is this lack of effort happening, or not happening, as the case may be?

Here's why.

The fact is that Ron Paul has been, and with this campaign continues to be, primarily a successful political entrepreneur. An industry. Ron Paul, the Industry, sells or has sold books and newsletters, and raises money through the higher profile of candidacy.

Ron Paul, the Industry, has built a long-term family dynasty and a network of contributors and volunteers in a niche market. And while doing all that, he's kept his job as Congressman and brought Junior to the Senate. Ron Paul I, though, has little substantive serious legislative success to his name, nor even a classic soundbite from his anti-Federal Reserve committee leadership.

This has generally been success enough for the crowd, it appears.

Libertarians and the "constitutional conservatives" or paleoconservatives who support Ron Paul are a niche market. Making a living and career off them is a good job, if you can get it. Without sarcasm or negativity, I congratulate him. Ron Paul has done it, complete with his own dynasty. I would even doff my hat, if I had a hat and knew what doffing was.

Now, to be very fair, Ron Paul also does what should be done, far more than others, in the limited but essential terms of calling attention to libertarian ideas in a relatively mainstream forum. I am certain he is sincere, and not simply opportunistic, in his beliefs.

But the niche market among libertarians and paleorightists can survive and does even thrive a bit on . . . a sense of failure with a good dose of a sense of martyrdom on top. ("The State/elites are against us!")

Ron Paul is clearly willing and able to stay the gold standard in that proud-to-sulk market, which demands principled articulation but is quite satisfied to bemoan failure.

The time and money required to successfully grab for getting actual fair news coverage is thus not necessary for Ron Paul, the Industry, to thrive. His constituents and supporters do not insistently demand he obtain proper establishment coverage because a great amount of them find in that denial the validation of their perception of the awesome omnipresent evil of Establishment Statism.

Being scolds, rather than being in power, is more attractive to much of the constituency, and Ron Paul's inaction in this regard seems to reflect an awareness of that. His being ignored is not a failure, it's a feature not a bug in the niche market circles. The simple periodic minor rise in mainstream profile from the existence and excitement of campaigning is sufficient.

No campaign failure to obtain deserved coverage stops the relentless message to the niche members -- MONEY BOMB!

The media blackout should, of course, be seen as a failure, if not THE failure of the campaign and candidate. Such is the standard to which supporters of winning candidates typically hold their candidate.

"We are being ignored!"

So what? MONEY BOMB!

"The establishment is trying to stop us."

So what? MONEY BOMB!

Another part of the problem is the personal nature of libertarian supporters and the limits of their own self-impelled power. Libertarians especially, and I know this partly from the mirror, are 80% social misfits, and 95% political misfits. They/we tread the line where Autism and Lyndon LaRouche meet, even though we are consistently right and even though we do not share or respect the views of LaRouche and such other eccentrics.

But politics -- real world winning electoral politics -- is not about ideas or programs or money alone. It's people and relationships. About image, not so much substance. Libertarians do not like to admit this because we/they are not good at all that stuff for the most part, and also find it all morally abhorrent. We are not -- usually -- regulars of political Party haunts or community backscratching and social life.

We don't know how or who to reach to make the media come around. We don't go to parties with media people and lobbyists there. And when we do, we are gently led to the science nerd conversation group. We want to talk about issues when they want to talk people, sports, money, and summer vacations.

That's a problem. But that's why you have these MONEY BOMBS. Nerds can donate so that professionals can do that stuff.

What needs to happen is this:


"Sorry, no. Not til you get your column inches and airplay time up by a factor of at least 3. How? Figure it out. That's why we're paying you. Now back to my Dr. Who retrospective."

And if a response to such demand happens from campaign efforts,and the media snubbing ends, then Ron Paul will be a serious candidate both in function and in effect. And if supporters bring themselves out of failure-acceptance mode and into making such demands, there will be a serious libertarian candidacy.

For real.