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Crunch time for Ron Paul

Though the national convention where the candidates for President will officially be chosen is almost a year away, what Ron Paul supporters do in the next three months will be critical to determining how far he goes in the race. As many supporters are new to politics, this is a crash course on what you can do to ensure that the Republican national convention chooses Ron Paul next September.

Most of us here at Homeland Stupidity are hardcore, vocal, active Ron Paul supporters. I have contributed over $500 to his campaign so far and plan to contribute as much as I can in the near future. I believe that Ron Paul is our last best hope for saving the country from not only the far-left socialists who would take us into social and economic ruin, but the far-right neocons who would take us into economic and social ruin.

While this message is directed at Ron Paul supporters, if you aren’t yet one, I’d like to invite you to find out why Ron Paul supporters are the most loyal, dedicated and hardworking campaign volunteers of any presidential campaign, so much so that none of the other candidates can even pay for support like this.

The two most important things to be done between now and the end of 2007 are fundraising and getting the word out to undecided, eligible voters.

Fundraising, arguably, is the most important of the two, depending on which state you live in. This will allow the campaign to pay for the production and airing of television and radio ads in the all-important early primary states. But because it takes much more time to produce TV-quality video than to just throw something up on YouTube, the campaign also needs enough lead time to produce them. Therefore it’s important to make your donations as soon as possible, even if they aren’t much money. You can always donate again later, until you reach the federally mandated maximum of $2,300.

So donate as much as you can as soon as you can, even if it isn’t that much. Every little bit counts.

The next most important thing at this stage of the campaign is to spread the word to as many qualified voters as you can. Voter registration deadlines are fast approaching in many states, and in New York, have already passed. If the deadline hasn’t passed in your state, then get the word out to anyone and everyone who may be receptive to the message, making sure that registered Democrats (and in some states, independents) know that they need to re-register as a Republican if your state has a closed primary.

A word on primaries and caucuses is in order here, since it’s confusing even for people who have been around the block a few times. These are the two main methods which the political parties use to choose delegates to represent them at the party’s national convention, held a few months before the general election. It’s the votes of the delegates at the national convention which will decide who the party puts forward to run for president and vice-president.

While there is some variance from state to state, the processes generally run this way: In states using a caucus system, on that day registered Republicans show up at each precinct and hold straw polls to choose delegates for the party’s state convention, and then those delegates choose delegates to go to the national convention. In states using a binding primary, the delegates to the national convention are chosen directly by the voters. The number of delegates for each candidate can either be proportional to the number of votes, or winner take all, depending on the state. (New Hampshire’s GOP delegates are assigned proportionally.) In a non-binding primary, the delegates to the national convention do not have to vote according to the outcome of the primary.

The Holy Grail, of course, is to become one of these delegates yourself, especially in caucus and non-binding primary states. If you plan to follow this process, you may have to keep your support for Ron Paul quiet, lest party insiders who would rather see someone else nominated derail the process for you. I would recommend it only for people who enjoy working behind the scenes, since that’s where you will be.

After the voter registration deadline passes in your state, you should focus your efforts on voters who are already registered and eligible to vote in the Republican primary or caucus. To be sure of reaching everyone, coordinate with other supporters in your area, obtain voter registration lists and canvass the neighborhoods, spreading the message of liberty, prosperity and peace to everyone on the list who is qualified to vote in the primary or caucus. This may take you from now until primary day, and you might not even complete it as it’s a huge undertaking, but the results will show on election night!

But to spread the word more effectively, target influential Republicans in your area who will almost certainly be receptive to the message. I attended a GOP business meeting here and was surprised to not only hear the local party chairman say the party has lost its way and needs to get back to its conservative roots, but to observe general agreement among the crowd. This, of course, is exactly what Ron Paul has been saying. These are not only the people most likely to vote in the primaries, they’re also the people who are likely to know everyone in town, and if they’re on board, they’ll bring many more people with them. In states which use a caucus, or a non-binding primary, it is absolutely vital to reach these people as they will have a lot of influence on who the final delegates are which your state sends to the national convention. It’s also important to remember that most of these people are conservative rather than libertarian and should be approached with some sensitivity with respect to various controversial issues.

While Iowa and New Hampshire lead the pack and will give us all early indications of how the race might go, nothing is set in stone until Super Tuesday, February 5, when two dozen states will have their primaries on the same day. From now until Super Tuesday, our efforts must be focused on two things: giving the official campaign the money it needs to reach voters, and reaching them ourselves.

Please feel free to share your corrections, observations and experiences regarding getting Ron Paul, or any other political candidate, elected.

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