The Most Popular Republican Presidential Candidate on the Internet
I recently found out that the Republican candidate for United States President with the most friends on MySpace is — get this — not Mitt Romney, not Rudy Giuliani, not John McCain...but Ron Paul. It's true.
For those who don't know what MySpace is, it's a social networking site a la Friendster. Basically you create a profile, and your friends link to you from their profiles. It's somehow become the in thing for celebrities to have — everyone from rock bands to Presidential candidates have a MySpace profile.
Now, in the age of the information revolution, the internet can make or break a candidacy. Last year, Virginia Senator George Allen lost his campaign for re-election after a racially-tinged comment made it onto Youtube. Meanwhile, candidates like Howard Dean in 2004 leveraged the internet to raise funds and propel themselves from nowhere into the lead. Today, every candidate is relying extensively on the internet.
I am really surprised and pleased that Ron Paul is the leading Republican candidate on MySpace. Paul ran for President on the Libertarian ticket in the past, before turning Republican, but his beliefs remain libertarian-aligned. As a libertarian-leaning centrist, I'm certainly happy that the MySpace Republicans are choosing a philosophy that's more in line with true freedom.
I would be very happy if this "netroots" support eventually translates into Paul becoming a frontrunner for the Presidency. He has been very critical of the Iraq War, and if there's one Republican the Americans need now, it's a Republican who would repeal draconian laws like the PATRIOT Act, get America out of Iraq, and push for true free trade and enterprise.
Not all's positive, however. Paul opposes income taxes, and seems to believe that poverty is not something the government ought to address. As I've written before, though, poverty can be shown to be an externality, and taxes are needed to finance things like public education and healthcare to address the externality of poverty.
Paul also wants to tie the American currency to the gold standard, which doesn't make much sense, since the value of gold is affected mainly by things like booms and busts in the dentistry industry. Unfortunately, central banks are a necessary part of the modern economy, though Paul's sentiments are admirable — he wants to abolish the Federal Reserve to force the government to choose between raising taxes and cutting spending, instead of giving it a way out through borrowing.
How likely is it that Paul will become the frontrunner for the nomination? Not really. But just remember — around this time in 1991, Bill Clinton wasn't on anyone's map. He was just some obscure Governor and a political unknown. But in politics, a week is a longtime. Paul really has something going for him if his netroots support is so strong.
I'm still partial to the Democrats, and I'm still hoping for a Clinton-Obama ticket, but it wouldn't be a bad thing to actually have a sort of decent Republican on the ticket for once. At least then we could be assured of a half-decent President, whether the Americans choose a Republican or Democrat.