What Ron Paul and “Friday Night Lights” have in common

at 09:29 AM ET, 05/13/2011


Texas Rep. Ron Paul is running for president for a third time in 2012. (AP Photo/ Richard Shiro, File)
Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul declared his plan to run for president in 2012 this morning, telling ABC’s “Good Morning America” that “time has come around to the point where the people are agreeing with much of what I’ve been saying for 30 years.”

This will be Paul’s third run for president; he ran as the Libertarian party’s nominee in 1988 and then as a Republican in 2008.

Like his last two bids, Paul’s candidacy this time around is almost certainly a quixotic one. Why? Because Paul’s political appeal has too much in common with NBC’s “Friday Night Lights”.

Both Paul and “Friday Night Lights” have in­cred­ibly deep but not all that wide bases of support.

Go to any Paul rally and you will be amazed by the vocal and passionate support his libertarian views engender. Ditto debates and candidate forums where, if one was to use enthusiasm from supporters as the lone measure of victory, Paul would win going away — every time.

The passion for Paul translates into money too. Paul stunned the political world with his capacity to raise cash online; he collected $6 million on a single day in 2007 and ultimately raised better than $35 million.

Like Paul, “Friday Night Lights” — a series dedicated to the goings-on in a small Texas town where football is king — drew a dedicated fan base from the moment it started.

But, that rabid fan base, which includes the Fix family (in a major way), never grew. The show teetered on the brink of cancellation for several years and this season — its fifth — will be its last. (Not surprisingly, the “FNL” supporters have repeatedly rallied to try and save the show — even organizing a petition drive seeking a sixth season.)

That’s the story of Paul’s presidential aspirations. His supporters would walk through fire to vote for him. But, there just aren’t enough of them to make a dent in the larger presidential race. In 2008, Paul was unable to win a single primary or caucus — a fate he is likely headed to repeat in 2012.

In politics like in television, deep support matters but wide support is ultimately what (usually) wins the day. That’s “FNL”’s problem — and Paul’s problem too.

 
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