Ron Paul, the libertarians’ politician, announced Tuesday that he will form an exploratory committee to launch his presidential campaign. Here’s hoping that he wins. We should not delude ourselves, though; the odds are stacked well against him. The votes he has garnered in the past leave much to be desired. When he ran for president in 1988 he received less than 0.5% of the votes. In 2008, running as a Republican, he finished fourth in the primaries with only 5.6% of the votes. Well, today is not 1988 or 2008. Deficit reduction, government spending control, tax cuts and simplification are the buzz words of the day. More and more, people are opening up to Ron Paul’s type of libertarian thinking. But can Ron Paul win? It probably all depends on the mainstream media, but only if we let it.
In 2008, when we elected President Obama, amidst staggering increases in the unemployment rate and a dilapidated economy, we wanted hope and we needed change, quickly. The mainstream media told us that President Obama was the candidate to deliver on this vision. We got hope in spades, but instead of change, we got more of the same, except worse.
“What I won’t do,” promised President Obama in reference to the economic policies of George W. Bush, “is return to the failed theories of the last eight years.” Yet not only has President Obama continued spending like Mr. Bush, he has triple-downed on this strategy. Whereas Mr. Bush increased the debt by about $4 trillion during his eight years in office, President Obama has added another $5 trillion to the debt in only a fraction of the time. On average, Mr. Bush increased government debt by about $500 billion dollars per year, whereas President Obama has, on average, increased it by about $1.6 trillion per year. That’s a debt-rate increase three times greater than Mr. Bush’s.
Borrowing is up, and so is spending, and the current budget gives no comfort that government will control itself. Government spending as a percentage of GDP was 18% in 2000, 20% when Mr. Bush left office. Under President Obama, government spending has risen to 25% of GDP. That’s a quarter of our entire economy. Even worse, President Obama’s budget continues on this elevated path through 2021. Never mind that the spending binge was originally justified as emergency stimulus money. Now it’s just good old government spending, part of the regular budget for the next decade and beyond.
Which brings me back to the media. If we all believed in hope and change, how is it that we were sold a product that was more of the same? One word: airtime. And here’s the evidence.
Thanks to Google Trends, we can now quantitatively analyze the number of Google searches. In mid-December, 2007, in the days leading up to the primaries, Google searches for “Ron Paul” outnumbered “Barack Obama” six to one. This is a rough proxy for people’s interest in the candidates at the time. People were interested in Ron Paul and his ideas, at least more than they were in Barack Obama.
Then the mainstream media got involved. They chose who our President would be. They told us. Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting counted the number of times a candidate appeared or was mentioned on World News, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News from December 26, 2007 to February 5, 2008. The tally for Barack Obama was 1,204; for Hillary Clinton it was 992; for John McCain it was 931. For Ron Paul, it was only 10. Airtime.
Chris Rock jokes that Oprah got President Obama his job, but there is truth to his jest. How could we ignore the constant barrage of positive Obama rays the television continually streamed into our eyes and ears?—eventually to imprint on our brains. We were ready to believe. We wanted hope, so we accepted the message. Unfortunately, the magic beans did not sprout into economic prosperity. We got more of the same.
This election, let’s not let the media choose our President. They did not give us the “Hope and Change” we wanted last time. There’s no reason to think they will deliver now. I hope this time all of us will vote for real change.