Monday, January 14, 2008

What's the Deal with Ron Paul and Young People?

No one has yet to give me a satisfactory explanation to the reason why young people like a grizzled old politician like Ron Paul so much.

It's been really amusing to look at the U.S. Politics application on Facebook, an application made by ABC News that has one or two opinion surveys daily, along with blogs and reports from the presidential campaigns and a tally of current support for each candidate according to the number of Facebook users listing their favorite candidate. Since 98% of Facebook users are under the age of 30 (I just made that number up, but it sounds reasonable, right?), the Facebook poll could be seen as a good indication of the opinion of politically active young people. Huge disparities exist on both the Democratic and Republican sides between the Facebook poll and the national polls. The leading Democratic Facebook candidate, Barack Obama, has 63% of all Democratic support, an overwhelming lead over second-place Hillary Clinton, at 19%. But in the other world of people with jobs, kids and land-line telephones, Clinton leads Obama 42% to 37%.

But it's still a two-candidate race for the Facebook Dems. On the Republican side, the top four candidates nationally, McCain, Romney, Huckabee and Giuliani, aren't within 15% of the Facebook G.O.P. leader, Dr. Ron Paul. Ron Paul has 35% support among Facebook users, close to double what Mike Huckabee has in second place at 20%. In the real world, Ron Paul polls at a national level of under 4%. He's getting 875% more support from young people than from the rest of America! Not only that, but in a recent informal survey on the ABC News Facebook application, the question was asked, "Are there any candidates from another party that you could support?" Facebook users, composed overwhelmingly of young Democrats, chose "There is exactly one candidate I could support" as the top answer. In the comments section, almost all of the comments listed Ron Paul as that one candidate. So not only does Ron Paul have the support of young Republicans, he would have the support of many young Democrats too if they weren't such partisans.

But why? He's got some interesting ways of advertising himself, but what is it about Ron Paul's message itself that speaks to my generation and those younger and less bald than me? He is pro-life, wants to end automatic citizenship to people born here, stresses the need to create more socially-awkward adults by strengthening home schooling, and, like any good Texan, loves loves loves him some guns. On any given issue, he will be on the side that would create a weaker and less-influential government, perfect for foreign negotiations with dangerous states. He's a libertarian in every sense of the word, and he's even run for president before as the Libertarian Party candidate. I must say I do have respect for some of his positions like war spending (he's against it), serious debt reduction (he's for it), and the Patriot Act (he's against it), but I'm not willing to give up on good government programs that help out those who aren't so fortunate economically speaking achieve some modicum of success in our society. Plus, it sounds as though he wants to blow up The Fed with a car bomb or something. The guy's nuts.

So why do young people dig this message? It could be because young people are taught (by our leftist teachers, of course) that our country is great because it allows so many individual freedoms like the right to free speech, expression of religion, etc. What we are not taught is how the economic policies of the government affect us. That stuff we have to learn for ourselves. So I guess some youths might be motivated by, I don't know, a burning hatred of the U.N. or NAFTA to become Libertarian-like and therefore vote for Ron Paul. But I'm not sure this accounts for the overwhelming difference between the Facebook vote and the national ... wait, what's that you say? Ron Paul is for the legalization of drugs? Oh, okay. That makes sense. Nevermind.