A Ron Paul Moment: Don’t Tell the Kids

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It was a town hall meeting for Ron Paul at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. The room last Thursday night was packed with hundreds of college students. They were excited. They were eager to hear “Dr. Paul”—as the moderator repeatedly called him—expound on assorted libertarian matters. He claimed the US currency system was near collapse. (Go silver and gold!) He decried empire. He hailed freedom and denounced government. All government. He called for destroying a host of federal agencies—including the Department of Education. The crowd went wild.

During the Q&A, the queries were mainly soft balls. One student asked why he did not have the same right to use Medicare as all those old folks. The only odd moment occurred when a woman who identified herself as an advocate for disabled students asked what he would do to provide insurance coverage to the hard-to-insure. Paul went on about slashing government to increase economic prosperity, suggesting that would lead to the creation of more charity hospitals that would be able to tend to the poor and the uninsured. It was not quite a plan.

When the event was done scores of students rushed to stand on a long line to pose for a pic with Paul, who then appeared to be heading toward a second-place finish in the first-in-the-nation primary.

I grabbed one of the students milling about and asked him how many students in the room receive Pell grants from the (diabolical!) federal government through a program administered through the must-be-destroyed Education Department. His estimate: one-quarter to one-half. Maybe he was right. It was too late in the day to check. But he gave me an idea.

I approached the stage, as Paul was heading toward the photo line.

“Dr. Paul,”  I said. “Can I ask a question?”

He paused on his way toward his young fans. He turned toward me to listen. I had his attention.

“Do you support continuing Pell grants?”

He opened his mouth. He was about to speak. He was about to answer this question. Then—he seemed to change his mind. His mouth closed. He turned away, and resumed his walk toward the Paulites awaiting him.

I don’t think that was a yes.

 

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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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