“Ron Paul Is My Homeboy”
Why the candidate appeals to men under 30.
“The Ron Paul brand is actually relatively intellectual,” Cassino says. It’s “A brand that’s about, ‘I’m smarter than you are.’ … ‘All the politicians are telling you one thing but I know better.’ ” This is the brand for those who feel different, who see themselves as a little bit brainier and more marginalized than everyone else. “If you’re playing Dungeons and Dragons, this is your poiltical movement,” Cassino says.
This branding, he speculates, may also help explain why Paul holds more appeal for men. Social bias may enter into the equation. “In women it’s not considered desirable to be pointing out how intellectual you are,” Cassino says. Or at least, not as desirable.
This may also explain the limitations of Paul’s appeal. It’s not just that understanding him often necessitates the reading of semi-obscure Austrian school economists, though that is itself a high bar for political participation. (“I can’t get my students to read that stuff,” Cassino points out.)
It’s also that those drawn to Ron Paul are narrowly self-selecting—they are attracted to the idea of being the rare voices of reason in a culture of foolishness. They are, in Cassino’s words, “countercultural.” It is a point of pride for them to be trudging uphill against the wind.
It’s just possible that if Paul’s ideas ever became mainstream some of his supporters might not find them so compelling anymore. Though that probably isn’t in danger of happening anytime soon. For better or worse, it seems unlikely many Americans can be prevailed upon to care that much about the gold standard.
Libby Copeland is a writer in New York and a regular Slate contributor. She was previously a Washington Post reporter and editor for 11 years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.