View Full Version : My Saturday At The Maryland State Fair (Straw Poll)

08-26-2007, 09:31 PM
I'm a little hesitant to post this, but I have to get a few things off my chest. I can't send it to the MeetUps directly involved because I've used up my three groups in twenty-four hours. It is not my intention to step on any toes, but some things just need to be said.

Anyway, here goes:

Well, I didn't get there as early as I had hoped. I was shooting for 11:00 or 12:00, but made it around 2:00. As I drove up York Road toward the fairgrounds I saw the Ron Paul truck parked in a shopping center lot and pulled in to introduce myself. I met Nathan, the Catonsville MeetUp coordinator and Allan, who drove up from central Virginia. There were a few other folks by the truck, but I am bad with names. It was nice to meet all of you.

After I dropped off my 2,500 slim-jims at the truck because I was told they had plenty at the GOP booth I headed up to the fair with a few in my back pack just in case. I ran into Andrew, the Rockville coordinator at the main entrance handing out them out on the sidewalk since we were told in no uncertain terms that pamphleteering of any was prohibited on the fairgrounds except for literature given out from the booth. OK, by me. It is private property and they can set the rules. That's one of the things we're fighting for. I talked with Andrew for a few minutes and headed in to vote.

I was wearing my RP t-shirt with a few slim-jims in my back pocket just because I always have a few slim-jims in my back pocket. I'd feel naked without them. On they way I passed what I could only describe as the quintessential Chesapeake Bay waterman. You've got to live around here to know the type--grizzled, weatherbeaten and wiry with a three day old beard; the most fiercely independent humans who have ever walked the God's green Earth with the possible exception of the Kurds. He looked at my t-shirt and asked "Who the h3ll is that?" I quickly justified myself to myself by thinking I did not solicit him, he asked me for information that I just happened to have handy, and I handed him a slim-jim just as he was saying "I never vote for none of 'em anyway."

"Well," I replied, "you might just change your mind after you read about him." I did not hang around because I did not want to seem to be politicking, but he was reading intently as I headed on to the exhibition hall to vote. I left it in the hands of God and the power of slim-jims.

When I got there there was a bigger crowd in the booth than around it. I struck up a conversation with one of the official party folks in the booth while I perused the literature spread out on display. I didn't get her name, but she was a very friendly and vivacious young woman (note to all: we gotta get some of those ourselves. The preponderance of aging hippies, young red-necks--I use that term with the utmost respect--and stodgy looking chamber of commerce libertarians in our ranks is boring. Well, boring to this aging hippie.) There were bumper stickers and buttons from all the candidates--including Ron Paul. I've got to hand it to the Maryland GOP: in my two experiences at fair booths they have been accommodating to us. We should never forget that.

I started signing some petitions having to do with gun rights and high taxes--things that the worst Republicans are better on--at least when it comes to rhetoric--than the best Democrats. We should not forget that either. I also collected a few generic GOP stickers and some other party literature because, after all, I am a newly registered Republican. That still seems so bizarre to me. I listened as a visitor to the booth lamented the passing of the Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr Golden Age and felt a bit guilty because I didn't vote in the last election.

Before I filled out my ballot I contributed $25.00 to the MD GOP. I must say I got the same reaction I did when I walked into the DC GOP Committee Headquarters and wrote them a check for $50: a look of pleasant shock. That they had to hunt around to find a contribution envelope for my cash speaks volumes about the state of the Republican party in Maryland: they were not expecting anyone to make donations.

After they happily took my money I filled out my ballot and dropped it in the box. I introduced myself to Jay, the Ron Paul volunteer who had been there all day and to his relief, whose name I don't remember--did I mention I'm bad with names?--who was just setting up to replace him. I gave the new guy a copy of the Ron Paul DVD in case he got a chance to set up his laptop to show it. I doubt that happened because the layout of the booth was not really amenable to it.

I spent a few more minutes talking with Jay and his relief then shook hands with the Rudy guy who had also been at the Montgomery County Fair. He does get around. I've got to give him credit, he's backing his man. At both fairs I have attended he is the only supporter of another candidate to put in an appearance. At the Montgomery County Fair there were always at least two Ron Paul supporters and at one point there were five. At least that was the situation the two days I was there. I can't help but think the party people have to be noticing that sort of thing as well. As a side note, that we have such support on the ground and the other candidates don't should be encouraging. Don't forget, though, Old Media is doing the work of keeping the other candidates in the public eye. We have our work cut out for us, the other guys are getting a free ride. Don't ever forget that, either.

Since I had yet to get a yard sign I took one from the stack in the booth, said my goodbyes and headed out to help Andrew hand out slim-jims out at the entrance. As I walked out of the exhibition hall, where the GOP booth was and headed across the midway toward the gate I realized my sign might be a problem. It was too big to put in my backpack and I didn't want to get myself kicked out for politicking by walking around with. I realized how self-defeating that sort of think is and decided if anyone said anything I could honestly say that the GOP Booth was giving them out and I was just walking around enjoying the fair. So, I enjoyed my way every square inch of the fair five or six times, stopping often to rest my weary hot old bones on many benches with my sign propped against my legs. I rested by the State Police exhibit. They didn't say anything. I rested by the City Police exhibit. They didn't say anything either. I also passed by many fair staff people without a word spoken to me. I suppose there might be a problem if someone brings a sign into the fair with them and walks around with it, but whose to say others might not also decide to pick one up at the GOP booth and then spend some time enjoying their way around the fair--five or six times. Take the foregoing however you want, but let's not get crazy.

It was brutally hot, probably close to 100 degrees. I decided I would swing back to the exhibition hall for a few minutes of air conditioning before joining Andrew out at the gate. I parked my self on a bench inside and and was soon joined by fellow wearing an "I'm a Ron Paul Republican" t-shirt. There were a couple of college kids with him who had come out to vote for Ron Paul in the straw poll. We spent a few minutes minutes talking about the state of the GOP in Maryland and weaving a nefarious plot to make the Maryland Republican part into the Maryland Ron Paul party.

We were joined by a gentleman who identified himself as a libertarian who had come into the Republican party as result of the efforts of Barry Goldwater. He said he thought Ron Paul was the best candidate in the race, but that he was getting no media attention, nobody knew about him and he could not win. Sigh. With friends like these... I expressed how Ron Paul was the only candidate who had the remotest chance of beating any Democrat. He disagreed and said he though Fred Thompson had a good chance of beating them. He seemed a bit taken aback when I said Fred Thompson was an empty bag of gas and that Hillary Clinton would had him his decimated a$$ in a general election. He said that Thompson reminds people of Ronald Reagan and everybody loved Ronald Reagan; that the Republicans were desperate for a Ronald Reagan. I explained that Fred Thompson might try playing the part of Reagan, that Reagan was playing the part of Barry Goldwater--unconvincingly I added when you look at the results of the Reagan presidency compared to the rhetoric--but Ron Paul isn't playing the part of anyone. He is the genuine article. The look in his eye told me he had never considered what I had just said. He also seemed to be surprised when I told him Fred Thompson's record in the Senate was undistinguished at best, that he had lobbied for a pro-abortion group after leaving the Senate and that he was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. My guess is this fellow doesn't spend much time on the Internet. Not having owned a TV for almost five years it is hard for me to grasp the fact that even people who call themselves libertarians and Goldwater Republicans have no concept of how they are being spoon fed pablum by the Old Media. It is hard not to be disheartened by the enormity of the uphill battle we are facing. Maybe I got through to him, maybe not. I can only hope he left with a small seed buried in his mind and that I am not the last Ron Paul supporter he encounters before the Republican primary. "So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase."

Finally, after enjoying myself around the fair two or three more times I headed out to the entrance to help Andrew, but Andrew wasn't there. It had been a couple of hours, he had already been there before I came and it was very hot. I figured he had headed back to the truck to take a break. I thought that might not be too bad of an idea myself, but as I stood at the crosswalk on York Road with my sign in my hand a car drove by and honked at me. I looked up and they were giving me a thumbs up. Doh! Here were hundreds of cars, some going to the fair, some just driving by when it sank into my thick skull that I was holding a big Ron Paul sign. The best excuse I can come up with for not realizing the opportunity is my misspent youth. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Rather than heading for the truck I turned in the opposite direction down the sidewalk toward the oncoming traffic holding up my sign for all to see, Never having done anything like that before--I'm a pretty shy and reserved guy--I was surprisingly invigorated. Every time someone honked or waved I felt giddy. What was even more fun was seeing people look at me with a perplexed look on their face. Obviously they were asking themselves The Question.

I walked about half a mile then crossed the street and headed back toward the truck. Along the way I saw groups of people directing cars toward parking. Most of them were charitable groups: Churches, schools and the like who had talked business owners into letting them earn a little money by using there parking lots for the fair. I handed out slim-jims as I passed them.

On some sections of the road temporary chain link fences had been set up to protect the expected crowds of pedestrians headed for the fair from the heavy traffic on York Road. I had to hold my sign above my head to make it visible from the road. I encountered groups of people walking toward the fair and gave out more slim-jims. On guy walking with a small group of people smiled and said "Yeah, Ron Paul!" I told him about the straw poll--which he didn't know about. A woman in the group asked The Question. Slim-jim to the rescue.

It took me about fifteen minutes to get back to the truck. By that time I was nearly exhausted from the heat and holding the sign above my head. Andrew was there with about five or six other people filling helium balloons and tying clever leaflets on the strings. They we a play on the Jesus fish swim against the tide idea. They had a bunch of little fish silhouettes with the words "Taxes," "Spending," "War" and the like on them all facing one direction while one fish with "Ron Paul" on it swam the other way. On the back they had the now ubiquitous "Brief Overview of Congressman Paulís Record"

All in all a very effective piece of literature.

The plan was to march back toward the fair with our signs and a bunch of balloons to hand out to kids on their way in. Kids love balloons, their parents--ever vigilant--could be counted upon to see what the leaflet said lest their kids be exposed to some horrible whatever. Very shrewed. The originator of that idea deserves a metal.

The group formed up. Every body lifted their signs and off we went. That's when the megaphone came out. Megaphones. Am I the only one who has a problems with them? It's one thing for one person to be walking along the side of the road with a sign. It is an attention getter, but unobtrusive. A group of people carrying signs sort of increases that effect. "What's that all about?" someone might ask themselves. It draws the eye, but doesn't really intrude. people have the option of ignoring it once their curiosity is satisfied. A megaphone, though, is a harsh intrusion, you can't ignore it. It can be irritating. This is not 1968, we are not battling the cops in Chicago. The folks driving down the road and walking toward the fair didn't come there for a political rally, they came there for a fun afternoon. You have to wonder if their first exposure to Ron Paul's name coming via a loud, grating squawk is going to have a good effect or a bad one. Aunt Ethel, a life-long member of the Rotary Club and the Women's Axillary, is not looking to join a group of seemingly fanatical revolutionaries. Think about that the next time you reach for the bullhorn.

When we got to entrance I broke away from the group and started handing out balloons. As expected the kids ate them up. It wasn't too long before they were all gone and I repeated my original circuit up York Road for a few blocks, across the street and back to the truck holding up my sign and passing out slim-jims. By the time I reached base camp I was thoroughly wilted and feeling every one of my fifty-two years begging me to get in the car, turn on the air conditioner and head home for a much needed nap. I said my goodbyes to the folks at the truck, put my sign in the back seat and drove off into the sunset.

I want to share my overall impressions of the experience. First, as to the poll itself, I honestly don't know how Ron Paul is doing. I'm not working in the booth so I don't know what the volume of voting is. The booth is sort of out of the way and in the short time I was there more people just walked by than stopped. Maybe that's a good thing. I'll leave that kind of reporting to the people who are there all the time. We won't know the results until sometime after the 3rd of September. Second, as I learned at the Montgomery County Fair, actually taking action, getting involved is thrilling. It will make you feel alive like nothing you've ever experienced. I urge everyone to give it a try, you'll love it. I have never done anything like walking along the road holding up a sign. It is fun. Talking to people like the Goldwater Republican was a bracing experience. It helped me to crystallize my own thinking as I shared my my passion for Ron Paul and his message. If you haven't done it you don't know what you are missing.

Lastly, like others on the MeetUp lists I subscribe to the one term that comes to mind about this first full day at the fair is "underwhelming." At most we might have had ten or fifteen people from a region that has almost 500 MeetUp members in several groups. Maybe you can't put a lot of effort into this for perfectly valid reasons, but please get down there at least once and vote.

Nathan, from Catonsville, is to be commended for taking the lead on this. Jay and the unnamed Ron Paul Republican helped to show that we are not scary, tinfoil-hat wearing crazy people. We are people who the GOP needs and thanks to their efforts we can be seen as the kind of people the GOP wants. Andrew, the Rockville coordinator has been tireless in his efforts to get the word out to all the MeetUps. He has been flooding us with e-mail and urging people to commit at least a day or two over the course of the ten days this fair and the straw poll are running. What has been lacking is the troops. I have to wonder what Allan who drove up from Virginia must think about us.

Maybe it's because it was the first full day and none of us knew about this until just over a week ago. I hope that's it. I hope there was a bigger crowd Sunday. I don't know because I wasn't there. Frankly I was exhausted and I spent most of the day in bed today trying to recuperate. And this isn't going to happen because one guy drives 60 miles one way and wears himself out in the process ten days in a row. It is only going to happen because so many people come we have to turn some away. I realize that in the grand scheme of things how well Ron Paul does in a non-binding straw poll that nobody knows about isn't a make or break thing, but the lack of effort on the part of those people who do know about him will kill us in Maryland. I don't mean to single anyone out, but I saw one person who rsvp'ed "No" because they would be at Ren Fair. Ren Fair! If things continue on their present course it won't be very long before Ren Fair is labeled along with the SCA as a terrorist organization. This is not a game. This is not something we fit into our busy schedule. This is the last hope we have to reinstate the Constitution and restore the Republic.

Now maybe I'm taking this to an extreme, maybe it is an overreaction. It may be that the time to concentrate on straw polls is passed, just like the time to run up Ron Paul in Internet polls is behind us. If so, then I hope the people who aren't coming to the fair are out walking the streets in their neighborhoods going from door-to-door talking to people about Ron Paul. That's the next step on my agenda. I live in a predominately Democratic county in a predominately Democratic state. I expect I will get lots of people slamming the door in my face, but maybe one or two will listen, maybe they won't toss the slim-jim I give them--if they take it--in the trash as soon as the door is closed. I might be taken for a loony or a crank, but I will not have it said that I did nothing. I have sat in front of my computer too long. I have been cheering from the sidelines too long.

If it seems I am laying a guilt trip on people, I am. We have got to get motivated. I am going to try and get back up there again during the upcoming week, but I work in downtown DC and Timonium is a long haul, especially during rush hour. It takes a lot of gas to get there and back and my bank account is running very low. Don't count on me. I'm just one man. Don't count on someone else. Count on yourself. Those of you who live closer need to step up. If you can't shake off your lethargy and get to work maybe you should be supporting Mitt Romney. He needs all the apathetic supporters he can find. We need patriots who can get the job done.

Convince me I'm wrong, show me that you want this as badly as I do. Show me you understand we have to do this. I'm not talking about the fair right now, we'll pull that off or we won't. I'm talking about all of us pushing a little harder and reaching a little deeper into ourselves and getting Ron Paul into the White House. The days are ticking away and we are the only ones who can do it.

08-26-2007, 09:49 PM
Big ass BUMP

08-26-2007, 09:54 PM
Good post. I spent the day walking for Ron Paul, and I'm too pooped to type.

I'm with ya on the megaphone.

08-26-2007, 10:08 PM
Great writing, great story and tremendous message at the end which I COMPLETELY agree with.

08-26-2007, 10:23 PM
Thanks for sharing your experience.

08-26-2007, 10:40 PM
Thank you so much for your efforts and for taking the time to share your experience with the board.

08-26-2007, 11:11 PM
Great going!!! After every sign waving, I'm pooped, however, its a good poop, not a bad one ;)

I can post a link to some videos if y'all want. But only if I'm asked, since this is dealing with Maryland.

Keep up the good work. Get that message out, and get in those County GOP Meetings.

See Ron Paul
See Ron Run
Run Ron Run!!!

08-26-2007, 11:19 PM

Great going!!! After every sign waving, I'm pooped, however, its a good poop, not a bad one

I can post a link to some videos if y'all want. But only if I'm asked, since this is dealing with Maryland.

Keep up the good work. Get that message out, and get in those County GOP Meetings.

Please do!! I love watching 'roots in action.

08-26-2007, 11:26 PM
Thanks for the motivation and sharing the experience.:)

08-26-2007, 11:57 PM
My Dad and I just got back from driving 305 miles to Texas City, and then back after we had BBQ with Dr. Paul and around 1500 supporters!

That was fun! I got a 4' x 8' Ron Paul sign, $20!

08-27-2007, 12:01 AM
thank you for all your effort. Your post is motivating me to re-double my efforts here in CA.

We can win this thing, we just need everyone to pitch in

08-27-2007, 12:05 AM
Here are the videos of us Sign Waving at University of Florida


Hope you enjoyed it at least half as much as it was to do it.

We handed out over a thousand "slim-jims" on Saturday.

08-27-2007, 12:34 AM
Great stuff inbo.. Luv your WC Fields avatar. He speaks every time I read your posts.. It was amusing hearing him tell me about your day.. I love waving signs and yelling at the sheep and people.. I noticed this.. Those that are in debt..new car.. certain clothes and hair..tightness etched in the furrows of their face.. Would not even look at any signs.. Then the hard core pantywaist males act like it is annoying.. I had one press his locks..like we were gonna break in and all 20 of us carjack him and force him to read slimjims.. Welfare state clients..you know the bunch..looked at us with comtempt.. Hey..their..ahem..paycheque will be curtailed and cut. Those who were enthusiastic were exceedingly so with honks terminating up to a block after passing. Then there was the Hillary bitchoids..arrgggh.. I wanna topple them with a tower of testosteronated power.


08-27-2007, 01:02 AM
Thank you inibo for sharing (and wonderfully detailing) your experience with us.

--I loved your story about "the quintessential Chesapeake Bay waterman". We have a few of those fiercely independent types here in New England as well...lol.

--It's great that you made your $25 contribution to the GOP wearing your RP shirt. If they see that the few contributions they get (as you observed by their surprise) come from RP supporters, that can only be good, as it shows that RP is bringing in voters and money to the otherwise dwindling GOP.

--The Goldwater Republican/libertarian was so silly he almost sounded like a FT plant. I'm glad you set him straight ("Fred Thompson was an empty bag of gas and that Hillary Clinton would had him his decimated a$$ in a general election"). :p

--I'm sorry about your disappointment about the lack of participation from the Meetup members in your group. Unfortunately, this sort of turnout is not unusual. As you noted, however, part of the problem was that folks didn't have a lot of advance notice about the event ("none of us knew about this until just over a week ago.") For some folks, as committed as they are to RP, if they've made prior commitments (especially if they've already spent money for tickets for something else) they may not be willing, or always able, to change plans. It's important for Meetup organizers to keep up with the GOP calendar in their city & state so as not to miss opportunities such as these, and to give MU members sufficient notice so they can be there.

One of the members on this forum (I forget which one, unfortunately :o ) has a signature that says something like "Live every day as if you can get Ron Paul elected". While that's a wonderful and inspiring reminder to all of us (and we should do just that), it is also important for folks to not allow themselves to get burned out--which can be challenge when we see all that needs to done in such a short time. However, taking a day (or part of a day) off when you're running "low on power" can help you be a better campaigner in the long run if it allows you to return to campaigning with renewed vigor.

Take care! :)

08-27-2007, 01:08 AM
Here are the videos of us Sign Waving at University of Florida


Hope you enjoyed it at least half as much as it was to do it.

We handed out over a thousand "slim-jims" on Saturday.

Excellent thomj!

08-27-2007, 01:11 AM
We just chalked up the University of Hawaii campus. There will be thousands of students that will get colorful introduction to Ron Paul tomorrow.

I got stopped by the campus police and they took my information and said I was in violation of some sort of BS campus law. Oh well, for liberty.

08-27-2007, 01:17 AM
I have to thank the people that did the work to make it happen with me. One thing that I try to do when I hand out this info is to thank everyone regardless of their position or level of interest. Whether it is the person who says, "Who is Ron Paul?", or the person who honks their horn and shouts "I know Ron Paul!", or the person who says, "Obama Rules!", or the person who tries to re-lock their car door 10 times as I walk past holding a "slim-jim" (there is a joke in there, oh you double entendre), I try to thank everyone equally and politely for their time.

In this way, I figure, that if a person didn't want to hear about Ron Paul, but has a positive image in their mind about the last time they heard Ron Paul, they may be more open to looking inot the matter at a later date. If I try to shove the Round Ron Paul into the Square Deal Hole, then the chance is a lot less.

MERRY-LAND!!!! You need to work the right ways to get it!!!

08-27-2007, 01:51 AM
Great thread. Very inspirational.