Previous State: Colorado
My plane arrived in Iowa on Friday, the 23rd of September, late in the evening. I got picked up from the Airport by my couch host, and introduced to Iowa. No matter where you go, there is always a cool feeling coming into a fresh new place. It didn’t take long for it to sink in, “I’m in Iowa.” Middle America. Literally, it is in the middle of the country. And I’d be here for a month.
Aside from the organizing, protest attendance, and outreach, I spent most of my time walking around, going to bars, coffee shops, restaurants and coin dealers, talking about politics, society and life. First of all, both places I went to to sell Silver (my funds are now divided into my bank account which is for transportation, and precious metals which are being converted into cash for food) were ran by Ron Paul supporters. Everyone I talked to at bars and coffee shops at least knew who Ron Paul was. This wasn’t 2007/2008, there was no need to answer, “Who?” In fact, when bringing up the Caucus in general people often mentioned Ron Paul on their own.
In addition, the people I stayed with were all into the same concepts I write about on this website. My first host had a garden in her back yard, another had spent time in Africa helping develop solar power, a couple I stayed with were very into politics and social reform, and everyone, whether or not they supported him, were very educated on Ron Paul’s campaign. Unfortunately the Green Party wasn’t very organized out here, or very widespread, but if my trip goes as planned, I will have time to work with some strong and established chapters in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania next Spring. For now, I just need to focus on the main reason I came to this State, to Win the Caucus.
We Can Win Iowa
The Iowa Caucus is Same Day Registration
Voters Only Need to be 18 by the General Election (November 6, 2012)
We just need to keep moving forward. We need to keep building, keep working, and keep growing. Whatever rate we do this, as long is it is a growing rate, will be enough. As long as we don’t stagnate, as long as we do not tire or become distracted, we can win the Iowa Caucus on January 3rd, 2012.
Recruiting Precinct Captains
When I rolled into Iowa I figured there’d be a groundswell of Grassroots activism. I signed up to all the Meet-Up groups and saw no scheduled meet-ups. I called up the official headquarters and they told me to come in. So that’s what I did first;
Ron Paul for President – Iowa Official Headquarters
Ankeny – Monday, September 26th
I borrowed my host’s car for the day and drove up to Ankeny from Des Moines. It was only a 15 minute car ride, the headquarters was located a couple blocks off the freeway. A big “Ron Paul for President” sign directed me to a small office space. I walked in to see a few desks with a couple guys, nicely dressed, and maps covering the walls. Adil Khan, the Polk County director, greeted me. I told him I’d be in town for a few weeks and wanted to help. He told me the basic game plan; recruit precinct captains to speak for Ron Paul at the 1700+ local caucuses that were to be held throughout the state.
A Caucus is quite different than a Primary. Where a Primary occurs the same way a General Election does; voters show up to the Polls at a church, school gymnasium, or community center, go into a booth and fill out their ballot; casting their vote – in a Caucus, voters assemble in a room, sit around a table (or a series of tables) and talk. Then there is time for someone to speak for each candidate (this is where Precinct Captains come in). After all of this the voters then fill out the ballot and cast their vote.
In 2008, a majority of Ron Paul’s votes in Iowa came from undecided voters who, after hearing a solid speech by a Precinct Captain, put their support behind the Congressman.
In addition to recruiting Precinct Captains the official campaign is also doing phone banking to identify supporters, then planning on going door-to-door to these supporters and suppling campaign resources (such as lawn signs). I decided the most productive thing I could do while here was to assemble the grassroots, host a couple meet-ups, and give them direction; mostly linking them to the official campaign. So I got back to my couch, signed on to meetup.com and scheduled a meet-up for the following Thursday.
Gathering the Des Moines Grassroots
Des Moines – Thursday September 29th
I got to Caribou Coffee a bit early to stake out a table (the conference room was booked). As 7pm came around a few people started to join us. First Joe, the volunteer leader for Polk County, and another prospective volunteer showed up. We sat down and started talking. Within the next 10 minutes two more people off meet-up showed up, and Adil came with another official Campaign staffer. The seven of us sat around the table and talked strategy. The new recruits gave Adil their information as prospective Precinct Captains. I gave advice on how best not to debate with people, but instead how to express yourself, find those that agree, and find ways to work together. After an hour the rest of the group left; I hung around for another hour in case anyone else showed up, using the time to work on some writing. The next day I scheduled another meet-up for the following week; same Paul time, same Paul place.
Keeping the Momentum Going: Recruiting Precinct Captains
Des Moines – Thursday October 6th
I showed up at Caribou Coffee an hour early. All the tables were taken. I had asked about reserving the conference room after the previous week’s meeting but was told it was again reserved. As I sat there, I noticed no one was in the conference room, and there was nothing on the reservation schedule. So I took over the conference room; the worst thing is someone comes and asks me to leave. The worst never come to be.
About a half hour early, someone comes into the room asking me if I was with Ron Paul. I showed him the video of Ron Paul on Wolf Blitzer I was watching. He sat down, told me that he had been part of the meet-up group since 2007 and that the notice for this meet-up was the first email he had gotten in the last 4 years. His personal project was putting Ron Paul info over hit songs on YouTube. Next came Joe. Then a very new Ron Paul supporter who had gone online to find a group after Ron Paul was the only candidate to speak out against the assassination of an American citizen without the due process of law. He told us, having being born in Hong Kong and having lived in China, that it amazed him at how accepting the American people were of the steps that had led to a totalitarian government in his home country. In China they had no choice, in America we have a choice, and have chosen not to do anything. The great thing about these meet-ups is that it reassures each of us that there are people doing something about this.
After that one of Joe’s band-mates came to join us. The two new volunteers signed up to help out however they can, the prospect of public speaking being intimidating, but the desire to help potentially overcoming that fear. We talked about different ways of spreading the message. Joe told us he would be at the Occupy Iowa rally to spread information of the corporate sponsorship of candidates, the Federal Reserve, and Ron Paul.
The House of Brick – Des Moinse – Saturday October 8th
I met up with Joe and Aaron at the House of Brick, a local venue in Des Moines. We stepped back stage before the show to hang out and talk about politics, music and life in general. It was a nice break from usual traveling and political meetings to just relax and enjoy a show. The music rocked, the crowd was feeling it, and drinks were flowing. Good times were had by all.
Des Moines – Sunday October 9th
At around noon I headed down to the state capitol to see what this thing was all about. Maybe 200 people were gathered together to protest Corporatism. For a protest this was ridiculously organized. In the spirit of this protest’s organizational skills I’ll make this segment a bullet point:
- The group was gathered around in a semi-circle.
- The group repeated each 3-5 word “sound-bite” that was spoken. At first it had a cultish feel, then I realized it was in order to let everyone hear what people were saying. They called it a “microphone.”
- The group discussion was led by a facilitator.
- Topics were brought up, questions asked, and opinions given until an agenda for the sit-in was developed.
- After trying to decide what they were doing, they decided to stay and begin their occupation.
- So, they decided to work on the logistics of actual occupation (bathrooms, trash, food/water, media, etc.).
- Committees were formed to work out how to deal with these issues.
- A 6:00pm time was decided for daily general assembly.
As the group broke into their committees I went around to talk to people. I met a number of folks, including an ISU administrator, a local “We Are Change” group, Ron Paul supporters and some people who came just to check it out. We talked about Permaculture, 3D Printing, Sound Money (handing out a couple Copper Coins, and attempting to buy some Socialist Literature with a Silver coin), personal power, “voting with your dollar,” and a number of other related issues.
After spending another hour or so at the State Capital, it was time for me to catch a ride to Ames; my next destination.
Ames – Thursday October 13th
I actually had no idea this was going on. I had been walking around that day, “killing time” before a meet-up I had arranged. I decided to walk around the ISU campus a bit to check it out. I began hearing some shouting, and to be honest, thought I smelled Bar-B-Q. Thinking I might be able to swoop up on some free party burgers, I headed over. There was no Bar-B-Q, but there was a small “Occupy” Protest going on. Having just written my “Occupy Yourself” article the day before, I thought I might be able to strike up a conversation with some college students about how powerful they actually were. The first thing I noticed was a couple of Ron Paul supporters I had met briefly at the Des Moines Protest, I told them about the meet-up later that evening (which they showed up to).
The Protest decided to go mobile and march around campus. I was fairly uninterested in that activity, so I tried to engage one of the onlookers with a quick, “You know if you make over $47,000 a year you are the 1% of the World?” A reporter from Patch.com overheard and proceeded to interview me:
After talking to the reporter about a great many things that didn’t get covered in the article (made sure to add a comment with links to my articles), I left the scene and walked to the Coffee Shop where I had scheduled the meet-up.
Let’s Organize, find Precinct Captains and a Meet-Up Host
Ames – Thursday October 13
My goal in Iowa has been to organize meet-ups, get the “habit” going, give them direction to the official campaign (so they can recruit precinct captains) and find someone local to keep the trend going until the Caucus. For this meet-up I had Cuylor Reeves, the Regional Director from the official campaign, helping me rally folks to the meeting, and it worked. We had about a dozen people show up, and all of them were very interested in getting active. Since Cuylor showed up, he was able to lead the meeting, so I used the time to look up some local groups that I may be to do some outreach towards.
Ames Ron Paul Grassroots Gathering
Ames – Tuesday October 18
After scheduling both meetings on Thursday in Des Moines I realizing that people who can’t make a specific day of the week typically can never make that specific day of the week. So, I decided to off-set the meetings in Ames, holding the second one on a Tuesday. Unfortunately the Nevada Debate fell on the same day, causing many people to miss the meeting.
Still, we had a strong return showing of three activists from the previous Thursday event, and one of them committed to hosting future meet-ups. In addition, one new supporter showed up. It is my opinion that, especially since hosting these events are free and only require time, that even if one new person shows up it is incredibly productive. Campaigns are built by a small group of people, as the sayings goes:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
“It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.” -Samuel Adams
Iowa – Wednesday, October 19th
Before leaving Iowa I decided to take a small effort at doing some additional outreach to other groups within the State. When I first got to Iowa I made an attempt to contact the Green Party. I received a call back and was told I’d get an email with some leads on who I could meet up with, but never heard back from them. I figured organizing the Ron Paul grassroots would be enough to keep me busy, which it did.
To finish up with that I looked up some single-issue groups and the state’s Libertarian and Constitution Parties.
Iowans Against the Death Penalty
Being Ron Paul is the only candidate that opposes the Death Penalty, I figured this would be a good group to contact. I called the number found in the “Contact” section of their website and left a message. Hopefully I’ll hear back from them in the future, before the Caucus. An endorsement from this group could go a long way.
University of Iowa Anti-War Committee
While this group appeared to be affiliated with a local Socialist Organization, my hopes what that their commitment to the Anti-War position would at least open the door to talk about Ron Paul’s candidacy, and at least, talk about potentially organizing to form a stronger Iowan Green Party. I again, made a phone call and left a message. I will make sure to email a link to this article to both them and the Iowans Against the Death Penalty.
Constitution Party of Iowa
I got to talk to Jon Tack, the State Vice-Chairman of the Iowa Constitution Party, who is also running for State Senate in the November 8th Special Election in Iowa’s 18th District.
I made it clear that I was in no way affiliated with the official campaign, and that I am simply an independent activist and writer, who is out here to help elect Ron Paul and to general stir our society into a healthy and more sustainable direction.
When I talk to third-party activists, I make sure to clarify that if they are holding a position within that party, or running for office, that it is obvious they need to maintain their specific voter registration, but that if they are not, I’d strongly encourage them to change party affiliation during Primary seasons to influence the direction of the two-parties.
It is, however, the position of the Constitution Party of Iowa not to do this. They feel it is more important to stay consistent and make a commitment to which ever Party the individual wishes to participate in.
I made my point, that since these groups have established an unfair priority in their access to our government, and that they are running for positions of power that do influence all of our lives, that it is well within ethical behavior, if not imperative within ethical behavior, to do what it takes to influence their nomination process into a direction that best serves the American People.
As one of my main points of advice when meeting with activist is to not debate, but simply express yourself and let individuals change their own minds, I respectfully acknowledged Jon and the Iowa Constitution Party’s particular political ethic. I thanked him for the time he took to hear me out, and wished him luck on his campaign.
Libertarian Party of Iowa
The Libertarian Party of Iowa website did not include any phone numbers to call, so instead I sent an email to all of the officers listed. I again made it clear that I was an independent activist and writer, and that I understood any reservations they may have as a third-party participating in the GOP Primary.
However, I believe there is a real opportunity for the Libertarians and Constitutionalists to take over the Republican Party, or at least become the majority wing of it. They can certainly be quite influential in this upcoming Primary and Caucus season by helping nominate Ron Paul.
I do agree that there is need for a third-party in American Politics. It may be that I come from the Green Party that I think they are best suited for that role, but it is also the fact that Progressives have not been as successful in reforming the Democratic Party as the Libertarians have with the Republican Party. I think the responsibility for breaking up the two-party system should fall in “our” hands. This may also be my own “libertarian” leaning to take responsibility on myself, rather than wait for others. This is why I am both entering the Republican Primary to support Ron Paul, and working to support Green Party candidates at the same time.
Calling All Road Warriors
“If you have warriors, now is the time.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi, The Revenge of the Sith
If you are without work, have some money saved up, have some vacation time accrued, can work from the road, or can take a 3-day weekend, think about hitting up some of these early Primary States. If you are a Green Party activist consider helping a local campaign somewhere in the Country. If you have web design experience contact greenpartywatch.org and offer to help upgrade the site to act as a functioning forum for Green Party activists and Progressives of all types.
Book trips as far in advance as possible to save on costs. Also travel during the middle of the week for additional discounts. You can also check out “ride share” on craigslist.org.
With Couch Surfing try to book 3-4 nights per host. Expecting anymore might be pushing it, however you may get pleasantly surprised (have had hosts offer for me to stay for up to a week).
Places to Stay:
Farms to Work at for Room and Board:
What’s Next for The Ron Paul Road Warrior’s Tour to End the War?
Next week I leave on a bus for South Carolina where I will be meeting up with supporters in Seneca and Columbia (and possibly Lexington). I will be spending most of my time on a farm there, and will leave for Florida in Mid-December to meet up with activists in Pensacola and work on another farm until the end of January. I plan on spending the month of February in Boston, MA registering voters and working with Green Party candidates to mobilize their grassroots supporters. March will be Philadelphia, PA for the same effort. My last stop will be Washington D.C. to meet with the Statehood Movement (and Green Party). When I get back to California I will take all of this experience with me. I will dedicate myself to helping Ron Paul Win the California Primary, mobilizing the Green Party to Run Local, State and Congressional Campaigns, and use my farming experience to bring Permaculture concepts into Backyards and Gardens throughout my Community.
Support The Tour: