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The Fine Print: Why Ron Paul and Mike Gravel Don’t Stand a Chance

Does the web have the power to elect the next President? Or are online politics all bark and no bite?

First Mike Gravel, now Ron Paul. The internet is showing its support for its favorite underdogs. And of course, it would. That's the nature of web culture, to make the voice of the little guy heard. In this way, the web seems to have the potential, in a sense, to bring a semblance of true democracy to the voting process.

In a true democracy, anybody can run for President.

In a true democracy, anybody can become the President.

It's great.

We've been missing that in this country for a long time. Did you know that when we first started electing our officials, people would cross out the names on the provided paper ballots, and just write in the names of the people they wanted to see in office? No longer. Instead of voting for whoever we want, we vote strategically on the surface, and on a subconscious level, under the coercion of corporations and the media that represents them.

But the internet gets to change all that, right? After all, this campaign season is the season of the online election. All the action's happening here, right? Right?

Except that you see candidates like Ron Paul enjoying this tidal wave of exposure online, but their place in the polls doesn't change, and their desperate need for funding doesn't change. It's early in the race to tell, but this kind of cause-and-effect pattern doesn't say much for the tangible political heft of the online community.

Are we happy to sit behind our desks, pushing buttons and spitting rhetoric, but not to hit the streets in support of our favorite under-budgeted, famously infamous candidate?

In a democracy, people rally, they put up banners, they poster entire cityscapes with the names of their favorite candidates. It all comes down to the individuals that are prepared to be involved in the campaigns, in strengthening voter communication and integrating their candidates in the mesh of our social consciousness. Right now, this is done almost entirely by mainstream media.

So how can the web cross over into battling neck-and-neck with the mainstream media for the integration of its own candidates? In other words, can anybody be President, really? Or is it only the people with the most money, the most power, and the most influence amongst the upper echelons of society that will ever be able to weasel their way into the coveted post?

The answer to these questions seems to lie in the hands of voters. Do we want just anybody – somebody like us – to be President? Or, deep down, do we want kings, dictators, people who we truly believe to be above us? I'll watch to see how the internet does this election season, because even if it doesn't tell me who the next President will be, I think it will give me an answer to my questions.

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