Ron Paul’s 15 Minutes Are Up

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Is the media correct to mostly ignore Ron Paul? I say yes, and Will Wilkinson notes that several other folks agree:

They speak with one voice: Mr Paul is a marginal candidate with a proven base of highly-motivated supporters who turn out in droves for mock-electoral trifles, but he lacks the the broader base of support necessary to qualify as a contender worth covering.

Though I think there’s something to this line of thought, I also think there’s something insidiously circular about it. Perhaps the best way to grasp this complaint is to compare Mr Paul’s coverage to Ms Bachmann’s. Both serve in the House of Representatives, though Mr Paul’s record of service is decades longer. Both are significant figures within the populist tea-party movement. Real Clear Politics’s average of recent national polls puts Ms Bachmann and Mr Paul at 9.6% and 8.8% of the Republican vote, respectively. Of course, poll results aren’t independent of press coverage. Ms Bachmann, for reasons known only to the gods, has been lavished with media attention, even before dipping a toe in the presidential water. Yet she remains at least as unviable a candidate as Mr Paul is said to be.

But Will — along with Jon Stewart and all the others who think the media is being unfair toward Ron Paul — is missing the single biggest difference between Paul and Bachmann: Paul has already run before. We don’t have to guess about Ron Paul’s appeal: we know exactly what it is, where it comes from, and how big it is. What’s more, we also know whether it’s changed since 2008, and unless I’m missing something, it hasn’t. At all. He’s basically got the same group of fervent followers he’s always had, and nothing more.

It’s not unusual for someone who ran and came close to run again (cf. Ronald Reagan, John McCain, Mitt Romney). But if you run a very distant fourth, winning no states and collecting 1.6% of the delegates, you really need to have a compelling story if you decide to run again. Ron Paul doesn’t, and everyone knows it. Like it or not, he’s a novelty candidate and he’s had his 15 minutes. It’s time to move on.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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