Creel O’Neil

For eight days during break I was in Salt Lake City, Utah visiting my father for some good father-son bonding time. The sights were definitely more intriguing than they are here-robust mountains, brilliant snowboarding, breathtaking hiking and heart pounding climbing. They also have a ton of Mormons. More than I’ve ever seen in my entire life to date. In fact, it is such a Mormon epicenter that I sat next to Mitt Romney’s first cousin on the flight back to Detroit. Needless to say, there was political talk a plenty between the man sitting in the window seat, Kip Romney (that was his name I believe), and myself. Kip was a good cousin and was staunchly supporting his relative gunning for the White House, so I didn’t want to tell him that I wasn’t voting for Mitt. Instead, pretending that I was listening after the first 10 minutes of discussion, I started daydreaming of the current political situation and became hinged on one candidate. This individual stood out against all of the “top tier” candidates and has been causing quite a bit of stir on the trail. This man’s name is Ron Paul.

Paul has been leading a very unique campaign. It’s unique in that no one else on the trail has been able to utilize the Internet the way he and his supporters have. His absolute dominance of the digital world has given him an important edge. Even more impressive is the fact that this edge, this digital movement, has been transpiring into the real world. I lost track of the number of Ron Paul signs on the drive from Ann Arbor to Oxford on or around the number 87. I’d never seen so many signs for a candidate before. Although he did not show so well in the few primaries that we’ve had, surprisingly, he came in third in many of the exit polls. In earlier debates held by FOX News and CNN he had come out on top. Phone voting had put him well in the lead of all the other debaters. Unfortunately presidential races here in the states are heavily tied to money and most underdog campaigns are eaten up very quickly by well-funded and established political camps. This is another unique aspect of the Paul campaign. He has successfully generated large amounts of cash from grassroots support. This is something the more pronounced candidates haven’t trumped. On Nov. 5 alone Paul raised $4.3 million from an average donation of $100.

A search for Paul on yields approximately 81,700 videos-an absolutely staggering number and one that continues to rise. The beauty of having that many videos is the ease of people being able to hear and see the message a candidate is trying to spread and the platform that they stand on. To be perfectly honest, I’ve never seen a more diverse group of supporters in any of the elections during my lifetime (which hasn’t been that long). They range from professionals to blue collar workers, from professors to college students, teachers to high school students, journalists to conspiracy theorists. The melding spectrum of support behind his message is unparalleled, and the message is simple: freedom. The idea that you, not the government, not special interests, nor money nor debt, control your life. Other candidates may speak a similar message, but with the meshing of political parties and the typical rhetoric of the “top” candidates their message of freedom isn’t as potent. It’s not as potent because when Paul speaks about that message, and delivers the facts and history behind it, it is, for once, believable. The importance of his growing campaign sheds light on the true essence behind the message. There is a hunger growing in the nation to move away from super-government or imperial presidency and back to the originating idea that the government was created as a tool to be utilized by the people of this nation, not to be controlled by it. There is a hunger to establish that we the people are capable of knowing the truths and responding to them. There is a hunger to establish that debt is slavery as a wise man once pointed out. The resonance with this hunger is what has made the Paul campaign strong and a threat to the other campaigns on the trail. He may not win, but his campaign has shown us something important about the changing political environment in our nation.