Alex Pearlman is the editor-in-chief of The Next Great Generation, where this article originally appeared.
Coming out strong in both the Iowa and now New Hampshire primaries, Ron Paul has captivated young people in this country in a major way. But are his Ayn Randian politics what American kids are really looking for these days? Or is Ron Paul just a symptom of a generation fully fed-up with an unreliable two-party system?
Paul’s press secretary, Gary Howard, said recently that Congressman Paul’s popularity stems from “a strong and consistent message that resonates with a wide range of people, but young people in particular appreciate his honesty and his character. They realize the mess that the establishment status quo politicians have put us in, and recognize that Ron Paul is the only candidate seriously challenging the status quo.”
Even the campaign admits young people's affair with the aging Texan is based on quirkiness, not policy. But that doesn’t even seem to matter to the kids who will stick with this guy all the way. Said another way, Paul is winning votes simply by being different from other candidates, and many of the people casting ballots in his direction aren’t necessarily doing it because they agree with his politics.
According to exit polls, Paul led with the most young votes of anyone in this week’s New Hampshire primary, with “47 percent of voters 18 to 29 [and]… 35 percent of voters in the 30-to-39 bracket.”
Justin Dulack, the president of Suffolk University’s College Democrats told Fox News that young people were flocking in droves to Ron Paul because “he’s proposing a new direction for the country that’s most drastic from what any other Republican is proposing.”
Keating Tufts, a 21-year-old from New Hampshire, echoed Dulack when he spoke to MTV news about why he voted for Paul on Monday. ”He’s got a different view than normal candidates, so I feel like it would be interesting to see what he can do,” said Tufts.
However, a recent Salon article spun a different yarn. The famously libertarian Paul, said David Sirota, is preaching to issues close to the heart of this generation, such as marijuana reform, the end to the War on Terror, the concept of American exceptionalism, and civil liberties infringement.
“The younger generation’s rejection of hubris and hyper-militarism — and that generation’s willingness to support candidates in both parties who similarly reject that militarism — provides a rare ray of hope in these political dark ages,” he wrote.
It’s possible that the obsession with Paul stems from a combination of the two reasons – or at least that’s how it seems. He’s not an electable candidate, and will likely not be the Republican nominee, let alone the next president. However, when forced to look at a full playing field, his persona as a nice old man comes off the least evil – and that’s saying something, considering the majority of his economic and education policies and alleged racism.
Paul does talk to our generation on the big ticket items, and it’s worth it to continue his campaign for as long as he keeps bringing up issues the mainstream candidates won’t, in hopes that one day (hopefully before the election in November), someone else will begin to take a stance on the War on Drugs, the Patriot Act, imperialism, and the moral and literal bankruptcy of the Fed and its friends, the banks.
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