Sure go ahead and join a Meetup group in your area. But don't -- even for one minute -- think that the people you meet, and who want to be in charge of you are in charge of you. They are selling their wares (ideas). Whether you buy or not is up to you. They are very rarely an official part of the campaign. They may run the Meetup, but that just means they were the first to form the Meetup group. Be wary of those "in charge." But it does give you a chance to meet like minded people, even if those in charge of the Meetup turn you off.
What do I mean?
Everybody has their agenda. Ostensibly it is to help Ron Paul get elected, get his message out, screw with the GOP, the equally worthless Democrats, or some other reason I have not considered. Unfortunately, a quick perusal of various Meetup groups exposes me to people proclaiming themselves in charge who post "Republican's only," or "we are not interested in activism, we need delegates." Really.
And I thought we were united in advancing Ron Paul. One is not limited to being a Republican for that.
There is nothing wrong with letting someone take the lead. But don't let them bully you around. I guarantee, if such a situation exists in any Meetup you have attended, there are at least 15% of the people present who feel as put off as you. Don't be afraid to speak up, and invite those who want to do ______________ (fill in the blank with whatever you want to do) to go find a corner, or a bar somewhere else and discuss it.
The answer is always "Yes."
What does that mean?
It means you have ideas. Ideas on how to help Ron Paul. Don't be afraid to bring up your ideas. Don't be intimidated, told how it won't work, or it is not what the others want to do, etc. Ask if anyone wants to help you, and then get it done. But foremost, if you propose an idea, EXPECT to be the person in charge of getting it done. Because if you don't believe in your idea enough to put maximum effort into it, who will?
I have seen people who wanted to volunteer dis-invited because they weren't Republicans.
I have seen people who wanted to volunteer dis-invited because they were not interested in becoming GOP delegates.
I have seen activism belittled, by group "leaders" because they were interested in organizing politically.
I have seen plenty of talkers in charge or who show up, who do little else other than take away from everyone else's productivity. [Often they write voluminously on Meetup messages, endless parades of "Oh, good idea"...blah, blah, blah. But never, "Good idea let's get together and get it done tonight."]
Don't let them intimidate you. They are not in charge of you, unless they convince you they are in charge of you. [That doesn't mean you cannot volunteer to join in others ideas you find meritorious of your time.]
Now getting people registered for the primary is a fine idea to get Ron Paul badly needed votes. Getting smart, dedicated, extroverted, aggressive, hard working people set up to become GOP delegates to help Ron Paul is a necessity. Getting a working organization can be useful, but it is not the end all of end alls. And NOT EVERYONE will be interested in joining your cause. No matter how noble, or important you think it is.
But they did show up to help Ron Paul. They might have been open to persuasion. But instead they found ostensibly a Ron Paul supporter "I'm in charge" standing in their way.
The primary goal of ANY Meetup activity is supposed to be helping Ron Paul's campaign. Not furthering your ideas. Helping Ron Paul's campaign. Your ideas are important. It is up to you to further them by persuading others of its merits. They will thrive or fail in the free market of ideas. We don't say "no," we say "yes," and tell them to get busy organizing it. Convince people to help you, succeed, or go it alone until people embrace your idea as they see it unfold...and perhaps they never will. Ideas fail. But sometimes an idea ends up with a life of its own, a revolution so to speak, that spreads across the nation.
A RON PAUL REVOLUTION.
That started out as one guy's idea. He spotted the REVOLUTION image (there is a REVOLT one too) on Google Image a couple of years ago, and tucked it away until something useful came along to associate it with. Then he heard that Ron Paul was going to run for President back in January, and the rest is... He found himself in a backyard. With a camera. Some spray paint. Some coroplast (plastic cardboard). A projector. And a knife. And some friends. And . . . it is now a world-wide phenomenon. It was not embraced by the Ron Paul campaign at first. It still isn't fully, and that is fine. It is not important that you have the campaign's approval. Heck, why wouldn't you want them to be able to disavow your efforts when politically expedient or necessary.
But the point is, it does not have to be about making a sign that says Ron Paul rEVOLution on it. It is about helping Ron Paul's campaign. And that is about having ideas based upon your life's experiences, and putting your effort into your idea to see if it helps out. So don't let someone claiming to be in charge ("a shiny badger") keep you from doing your thing.
Come up with your own slogans, your own messages, your own way of getting the word out.
It is not about a single individual, it is about a message. A broad consistent message that in this case is embodied by a man who is the symbol for the movement. But I will tell you this, as you go about making like minded friends, and work on this campaign: What you learn now, and the friends you make will serve you well after the election is over. Ron Paul may or may not get to the final goal we all wish, but his message will carry on long after that has passed. And you will have the tools, the contacts and experience necessary to keep the message going forward. Because the bad guys won't be resting after the election passes. Neither should you. If there is one thing the Ron Paul campaign tells you is you are not alone.
There are three camps out there. They do not have to be mutually exclusive. You can belong to all three. [If you can think of more write me.] Each will generally help out in the other two to a point. They are:
1. Those who want to be officially involved in the Ron Paul campaign. They need people to wave signs, pass out literature, answer phones, e-mails, make calls at various times and for various needs, sit a literature tables, man booths...and they need hard working, "thankless job" organizers. Yes, freedom's great. Keeping it sucks!
2. Those who want to politically organize to get Ron Paul elected. This usually (depending upon State law) means getting Ron Paul supporters registered as Republicans to vote in the primary, and get them active in the GOP so they can become delegates. [I'll be holding my nose, until the day after the election, so can you.]
3. Those who want to be activists. They may hand out literature, make calls, make movies, make recordings, post blogs, make DVDs, write songs, make stampers, bumper stickers, campaign buttons, make signs, wave signs, but not necessarily official campaigning signs and literature. They make make their own literature, they may show up at places where people are gathered to proselytize the virtues of Ron Paul. You would be surprised at what you can do. They get people to ask, "Who is Ron Paul?" They make sure people and the GOP hierarchy know Ron Paul has supporters. A lot of supporters.
What are your strengths? You can bring them to bear for Paul and liberty.
All three groups are important if the goal is to elect Ron Paul as the next President. None mutually excludes the others, though if someone becomes an official staff member (even unpaid) of the Ron Paul campaign, they generally can't get involved in the activism part. And may be limited in what they can legally do in the organizing part. And activists, even thought they often ruffle non-activist's feathers by being non-conforming unconventional people, are the ones drawing people into the groups. And activists can often be easily persuaded to reliably volunteer their time to help out in the other two groups when needed and on short notice.
It is the activists who get noticed, get the word out, and recruit that is why they are important. But politics is a dirty business. And it is the other two who are willing to get involved behind the scenes maneuvering the campaign through the maze set up to thwart it's success. All should have respect for the others, especially as each have useful and necessary tasks to carry out the other would not find of interest, or enjoy performing. When you start seeing that we all have something to contribute to ... what? ... helping the Ron Paul campaign.
So who are you?
Pick the area(s) you want to get involved with. Find your friends. Don't belittle those who wish to contribute in some other way, than your way. Heck, guide them to the people they should be hanging with. You know who they are. Remember, your common purpose is to help Ron Paul's campaign. Everyone has a different idea of how that will occur. The only word that should not be said is "no." Because everyone's idea has value, and it is up to them to sell it.
The answer is always "yes." We don't turn people away. Some of your best workers, food suppliers and fund raisers are government or Republican/ other campaign infiltrators. Use them, don't lose them.
How can you help?
If you intend to vote to help Ron Paul, register Republican. The sooner, the better generally. [Some states may allow non-Republicans to vote in the primary.] The day after the primary you can always switch back.
Consider becoming a delegate. Delegates attend the county and state GOP conventions and cast votes ranging from who the Presidential candidate for the state shall be (a caucus system) to rules to select Presidential Electors [the guys who constitutionally vote for the President]. Each state (and typically county) GOP has their own rules. Here is where the Meetup group may be able to help, if they have an local expert on the delegate system for the local GOP. One thing for sure, don't let anyone know you are a Ron Paul supporter in the GOP circles because I guarantee you won't become a delegate. Yup. If you are going to be a Ron Paul delegate, you are going in undercover, a spy for Ron Paul... a really suck task, but rewarding.
The official campaign can always use volunteers who can help out at fund raisers, candidate events, call potential supporters, hand out literature, show up at events and waive signs, etc. They are always happy to accept your donations...but I will tell you this, your time is worth more to them than your money. [But IF you can afford it, both is really wonderful.] Don't be embarrassed if you can only give $10. Most people never donate anything, including their time to a cause. You aren't most people.
Now my favorite part: Activism. Consider the entire planet yours for the convincing of others of your ideas. Not that the authorities won't mind...they will. But if you were happy with them, you wouldn't be interested in helping Ron Paul anyway, would you?
As an activist, whatever you do IS NOT part of the official campaign. I don't want to hear you whining "I was trying to help out the campaign." No. You were exercising your First Amendment Rights to peaceably assemble, list your grievances against government, openly speak out, pass out pamphlets, waive and hang signs, pass out bumper stickers, picket and protest, film and record, and to campaign, etc. Hang stuff on your car, your property, your dog.
Some things are a little more interesting to authorities than others. But that is why activism is fun. The more they squeal, the more fun, but the more it might cost you. NO FEAR. As one friend taught me, never go into a quasi-legal situation unless you know what the maximum penalty is. And they can simply make it up if they want to charge you (always be polite - they have the guns, clubs, tasers, pepper spray, and many, many of them are the most evil, cruel SOB's you never hoped to meet. And juries love to approve of their brutality.). And as I have painfully learned, never spontaneously deviate from a plan without a lot of thought because that mostly harmless misdemeanor can turn into a criminal trial quickly if in the heat of your enthusiasm, you did more than you intended. [Or you said "no" to authority. Bad things happen. Remember, it is easier to ask forgiveness, than to get permission.]
The truth is, if you ask for permission you deserve to be told "no." If you don't ask for permission, it really upsets all the right people.
One final RULE: If you don't film it, it never happened.
If you do something, film it.
Film it through the entire beginning to end and post it on Youtube. It teaches and inspires others to emulate and improve upon your activism. It takes what you have done and makes it a permanent record. Pay attention when you get feedback. People are always coming up with better, faster, cheaper ways of doing what you are doing. Bless 'em.
Remember, we are trying to get Ron Paul elected, or at least get his message out. Each of us has our own reasons. We feel betrayed by the Republican Party. We feel betrayed by the Democratic Party. We're libertarians. We're constitutionalists. We found an honest politician. What ever the reason, we are trying to promote Ron Paul. Some of our ideas may work. Some may fail. Some may help. Some may hurt. That is life. Hopefully, on balance, you figure you helped more than harmed the campaign. Evaluation and adjusting in an ongoing process. So remember, got an idea? The answer is "yes." You are in charge. Go make it happen.