November 8, 2007 at 7:27 am
The candidacy of Rep. Ron Paul has garnered some national media attention lately. On Monday, the Associated Press reported on Paul's record-setting fundraising effort. The next day, the Associated Press ran a follow-up story. Congratulations! The congressman from Texas deserves credit for the online network that has been put together.
Unfortunately, there is a segment of the Ron Paul network that has been receiving attention of another nature for quite some time -- his avid online "supporters." I'm not talking about people who simply support Ron Paul. I'm talking about the aggressive network of online fans who bombard discussion boards, spam web sites, flood online polls, and behave in a manner that puts their candidate in an extremely bad light. These so-called supporters not only hurt the Republican Party overall, but they also hurt their candidate.
Before I continue, I know there are those who are already getting their typing fingers ready to fire off some nasty e-mail, so please allow me to explain. If you are a general Ron Paul supporter, then that's great. Good for you, and good for your candidate. I'm not talking about you. I'm talking about those who are part of Paul's Internet network who have no sense of civility, decorum, and common manners. These are the people who do a disservice to Dr. Ron Paul.
I have been running GOPUSA for over seven years. I receive A LOT of e-mail feedback to news stories, commentary, and the discussions which occur on the GOPUSA Forum (our discussion board). In all those years, there have been times when I've received angry e-mail from left wing zealots. I have also received pointed e-mails from time to time when readers disagree with one of my columns. But, those e-mails pale in comparison to the tone and text of e-mails received by so-called Ron Paul "supporters."
There are readers who support Huckabee. There are those who support Romney, and so on. They often write to GOPUSA and let us know of their support. In most cases, they do so with professionalism and politeness. They describe why they are FOR their candidate. On the flip side, the typical e-mail from a Ron Paul supporter often contains profanity and is filled with name-calling and attacks on the other candidates.
Let's review.... Dr. Ron Paul is a sitting REPUBLICAN official. He is running for the presidential nomination of the REPUBLICAN Party. Yet, his supporters that flood our site and others seem to have a disdain for the Republican Party and all other candidates involved. They throw out slurs such as "neo-con" or "fake Republican" or "sheeple" or "jerks" or worse. They say people are "stupid," "idiots," "traitors," and worse for not supporting Ron Paul. Come on! There are millions of people out there who are solid conservatives who are supporting someone other than Ron Paul. These Ron Paul supporters are going out of their way to alienate all of them. In addition, they show absolutely no support for the party in general. This whole process is designed to determine the Republican nominee. We need everyone on board after that process is complete in order to defeat the Democrat.
The antics and unprofessional behavior of some of Ron Paul's supporters have been noted for quite some time. The web site RedState.com has banned Ron Paul supporters completely from their discussion board. Is it because they have something against Ron Paul? NO! It's because these people show up and bombard the board. They don't participate in discussions as the board is intending... they simply push their candidate and blast all the others to such an extent that it turns people off and brings discussions to a halt.
We have seen the same thing on GOPUSA. I take great pride in the fact that our discussion board (the GOPUSA Forum) has existed for years and provides an arena where people can discuss issues in a FRIENDLY and PROFESSIONAL manner. Some folks just come by to chit-chat, while others have been coming by for years to discuss politics. The atmosphere clearly changes when a Ron Paul zealot drops in and in typical fashion starts name calling and blasting other candidates and their supporters (our Forum members). Some have gotten banned. This has lead to complaints against GOPUSA. On our board, all views are welcomed, but people who show up simply to bombard the board for a particular candidate are not. There are plenty of other boards for that.
GOPUSA has also been accused by these "supporters" of blatantly ignoring the candidacy of Ron Paul. Of course, I don't receive e-mail simply asking, "Why aren't there more Ron Paul stories?" I get e-mails cursing at me, accusing me of bias, and saying much more nasty things. Here are the facts: 1) GOPUSA DOES NOT have a staff of news writers. I once had a volunteer team of new reporters and I would love to do so again, but we don't right now. 2) GOPUSA gets its news from the Associated Press.
Each morning, my news editor and I go through the news stories to determine what we will run. We are in agreement that our first choice will be stories about the presidential campaigns and the candidates. If the AP does not have a story about Ron Paul, there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. Yet, without knowing the facts, we get blasted for "not covering him" or for "ignoring him." On Monday, the AP had a story, and guess what? We ran it. The same on Tuesday.
Online polls are another item that has web sites like RedState.com, GOPUSA, and others quite frustrated. It is simply meaningless to do an online presidential poll because of spamming by groups. The results are completely skewed and don't reflect any other poll out there. For example, here are the latest poll numbers for Ron Paul:
- NBC/ Wall Street Journal -- 4%
- USA Today / Gallup -- 1%
- CNN -- 5%
- Washington Post / ABC -- 3%
- FOX News -- 1%
Even the results of GOPUSA's latest survey indicate support at 6%. This is taken from our national focus group of several thousand members. Compare this result to GOPUSA's basic online poll from September, and you can see the difference.
This happened on LittleGreenFootballs.com, where they noted, "I'm going to be removing Ron Paul's name from any further LGF straw polls, because his supporters are deliberately spamming our polls to make it appear as if Paul has more support than he does."
A message to Rep. Ron Paul:
It's clear that your online network of supporters is highly motivated and organized. Your fundraising efforts prove that. But it is also clear that some of your supporters are doing you more harm than good. It does not further your cause when supporters send profanity-laced e-mails to GOPUSA or other organizations. It does not further your Republican cause when your supporters blast other Republicans. We are all in this together.
At GOPUSA, we want input and discussions. All we ask is for civility and professionalism and something more than just pimping for your candidate. Unprofessional and profane behavior does not advance your candidate's cause. In fact, it hurts your candidate.
Get the message out, drum up support, and see what happens... that's what it's all about. And when the dust settles, we need to move on to the next battle, and we need the full team on board in order to fight it.