You can learn a lot about a candidate by the way they interact on the Internet. Barack Obama took part in a Reddit IAmA chat and took questions from the community, Paul Ryan posted talking points on Quora and ran away.
The difference between Romney/Ryan and Obama/Biden was put on full display today as Paul Ryan took to Quora to post six paragraphs of stump speech that included stiff talking points like, “Millions of young Americans have graduated from college during the Obama presidency, ready to use their gifts and get moving in life. Half of them can’t find the work they studied for, or any work at all. College graduates should not have to live out their twenties in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life. Everyone who feels stuck in the Obama economy is right to focus on the here and now. And I hope you understand this too: if you’re feeling left out or passed by, you have not failed, your leaders have failed you.”
These lines were directly pulled from speeches Romney and Ryan gave at the Republican convention, but the bigger insult came when nobody viewed the topic. In an hour, President Obama had 865,092 unique visitors in the first hour of his Reddit AMA chat. Paul Ryan had less than 200 views, and the only comment he got was somebody fact checking his talking points. In seven hours, 10,665 people have viewed Ryan’s Quora post.
I would call it a chat, but that brings up the other problem. Ryan never came back to answer any of the questions left for him.
Mashable reported that the Romney campaign told them that it was, “unclear” whether Ryan would be answers any questions left for him in the Quora thread, but that they really hoped to expand their use of Quora in the future.
In contrast, Obama was hit with all kinds of questions during his Reddit chat. The President was asked about everything from student loan debt, to his plan to help small businesses, to Internet freedom to funding the space program. The president also managed to make a little news by announcing his support for Bernie Sanders’ constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.
It isn’t fair to compare the traffic generated by the President of the United States with the Republican nominee for vice president, but it is fair to ask why won’t Romney or Ryan do a Reddit AMA chat, or even answer questions left for them on Quora?
What are they afraid of? Are they too frightened that they will be forced to answer questions? Will the crowdsourced intellect of Reddit be too much for them, or is something different?
The real answer more likely that Romney and Ryan don’t really care what you think. This is a risk adverse campaign that absolutely will not put itself in a situation that they can not tightly control. Romney and Ryan are afraid of what might happen if they have to directly interact in real time with regular people. Choosing people to appear in your Google+ Hangout is not the same as having to face the music on Reddit.
It is much easier for the Romney campaign to post some canned stump speech gibberish on Quora and then claim that they are reaching out to people on the Internet than it is to actually interact with those people.
The biggest insult of all was reserved for those people on Quora who took the time to leave questions for Paul Ryan and were ignored. Anyone from the Romney campaign could have taken ten minutes to post in the comment thread, but they apparently didn’t believe it was worth their time.
Nothing says we don’t care about “you people’ like ignoring those who are trying to talk to them through a dialogue that they started.
If Romney and Ryan won’t talk to the people when they are supposed to be asking for their support, how much weight would give the will of the people if they governed?
The answer is slim to none. If Ryan and Romney don’t care about you when asking for your vote, they are going to care even less if they are elected.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have shown themselves to be scared of Quora, terrified of Reddit, and too cowardly to ever be elected.