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News that Republican outsider and libertarian Texas Rep. Ron Paul is picking up steam in Iowa and breaking out of his base of hardcore backers is surprising, if only because Paul is up against an obstacle that even Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann don’t face: the political press doesn’t take him seriously and dismisses his candidacy at every turn.

If Paul does pull off an upset or even a strong second place showing in the caucuses in January, as looks plausible, it will be interesting to see whether the press corps finally starts talking about his candidacy with something other than scornful laughter.

Because even though voters choose the candidates they like best in American electoral politics, the oxygen in our media space is determined by editors and writers at a few hundred media outlets — and if they’ve decided three-time candidate Paul is not “serious,” then he isn’t, if only because he can’t amplify his message except via paid media and events sponsored by activists who already back his campaign.

Photo by archer10 (Dennis) / CC BY-SA 2.0

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For months, one postal worker had been doing all she could to protect herself from COVID-19. She wore a mask long before it was required at her plant in St. Paul, Minnesota. She avoided the lunch room, where she saw little social distancing, and ate in her car.

The stakes felt especially high. Her husband, a postal worker in the same facility, was at high risk because his immune system is compromised by a condition unrelated to the coronavirus. And the 20-year veteran of the U.S. Postal Service knew that her job, operating a machine that sorts mail by ZIP code, would be vital to processing the flood of mail-in ballots expected this fall.

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