Point/Counterpoint: America can't elect someone as president if he doesn't exist
Congressman Ron Paul is beloved for his promotion of Austrian economics and his steadfast defense of our civil liberties from government encroachment. Unlike many other politicians, he has a reputation for actually following through on his promises and consistently voting in favor of non-aggressive foreign policy.
I imagine this all sounds peachy. Indeed, my libertarian friends have made him sound too good to be true. But that’s exactly why I don’t think Paul is a viable candidate for president of the U.S.: I do not think he is a real, physical being.
I submit that the entity known as Paul is not, in fact, real, but the product of a mass hallucination on a heretofore unimaginable scale. He does not exist as part of the external world, but only in the mind.
I understand many people will disagree. They will call me crazy. But the fact is that belief in Paul as an immaterial, mind-dependent entity is actually better supported by the evidence than belief in him as an actual, living person.
Take, for example, his treatment at the hands of the media. Too often, he is relegated to obscure time slots on TV or overlooked during serious analysis of the 2012 Republican presidential candidates. In some newspaper headlines, he is even skipped over when polls are mentioned.
Conventional wisdom says the media is giving Paul the cold shoulder, unfairly ignoring him because his ideas aren’t mainstream enough. But think, isn’t journalism supposed to be fair and perceptive? On the view that Paul doesn’t exist, the media’s treatment of him, or lack thereof, makes perfect sense.
But, you might say, what about the debates? This is a valid question. Paul certainly seems to take up physical space on stage with his fellow Republican candidates. So how does my Paul-myth theory account for that?
Again, I advance what I think is the most plausible explanation — Americans who watch the debates simply imagine Paul is participating. There just happens to always be a spare, untaken podium. I think this is supported by the fact that the moderators rarely, if ever, acknowledge Paul. For example, in the TV portion of Saturday’s CBS debate, the otherwise convincing figment got a mere 89 seconds of speaking time.
So why do some Americans seem to believe in Paul while others don’t? This is indeed a puzzling riddle, but I think I can explain it: Paul is a vivid projection of the kind of candidate Americans wish was running for president.
Indeed, the Washington establishment is so dissatisfying to many Americans that they have fallen to hallucination. Paul, with his principled stances and his let’s-get-to-work attitude, appears as the illusory oasis to the man dying of thirst in a desert.
In summary, Ron Paul is not a viable candidate because he does not actually exist. As evidence, I submit the stunning lack of media attention he has received — no real person would ever be so blatantly snubbed by journalists. As much as it pains me to say it, even Rick Perry is a better choice for the Republican nomination because at least Perry takes up physical space.
Again, I understand many people will disagree with the theory I’ve laid out. They will laugh and call me crazy. But tell me, who’s crazier: me, or my opponent, Jason Lee Byas, who wants to elect a nonexistent man to the White House?
Steven Zoeller is a journalism sophomore.