Former New York Gov. George Pataki dropped out of the presidential race Tuesday, and jokes immediately began pouring in online about how little attention his campaign got during its short-lived run. "George Pataki" was a trending topic on Twitter as people flocked to social media to mock his lack of media attention and fizzled campaign efforts. Pataki, who has not served in office since 2007, had trouble getting his campaign off the ground due to low name recognition and campaign fundraising — he never polled higher than 3 percent nationally and only appeared in four undercard debates. Now, he is getting lambasted on social media for his unimpressive performance during his seven month campaign.
Of course, the jokes are kind of funny, because they contain a modicum of truth — Pataki didn't make much of splash in the headlines, and if you had never watched the undercard debates or lived in New York state when he was governor, there is a strong possibility you would have never heard of him. But Pataki should have gotten more attention, and definitely doesn't deserve these jokes.
Pataki is the Democrats' Republican. Pro-choice with common sense limitations, pro-renewable energy, and an advocate for humane immigration reform, Pataki's policies and campaign are exactly what America says it wants, yet didn't care about. Partisan fighting is crippling Congress, which saw its least productive session ever this year — however, a candidate who could appeal to both sides of the aisle received little to no attention. People are all too happy to keep talking about Donald Trump — who has harshly offended nearly every social demographic except white males and whose policy proposals are generally regarded as ridiculous even within his own party — but a potentially viable moderate failed to gain any traction whatsoever.
Whichever political party floats your boat, it's absolutely necessary to stay engaged in both primaries so moderate candidates have a chance. If you're a Democrat, would you rather see Trump or Pataki get the Republican nomination? Would you rather potentially have a president who swings to the middle or to the extreme right? Especially in such a crowded race, supporting a candidate who isn't in your party but who you might find bearable as president is pretty important.
Pataki wasn't a perfect candidate — he had been out of office for a long time; he is getting a bit old; he gave solid, but not inspiring, debate performances. But he was a moderate who tried to talk intelligently and respectfully about issues facing the American public. In this totally absurdist Republican race, Pataki's sensible rhetoric was completely swallowed by clickbait and sound bites. The public chooses who to pay attention to, and rather than choosing to pay attention to candidates like Pataki, who tried to engage in serious discourse about how to achieve social change, people seemed more focused on who dissed whom than how to fix America.
Running a presidential campaign must be unbelievably stressful and demanding, and at 70 years old, knowing it would be an uphill battle the entire way, Pataki had to be intensely committed to his ideals to even begin his campaign. His campaign might not have made a big impression, but politics shouldn't be about making an impression, it should be about making sense, and Pataki's bipartisan policies were actually doing that. Rather than mocking him, Pataki should be earnestly thanked for his service and his commitment to the betterment of the American political system.