Day One: The Ron Paul Festival
“Are you a delegate!!?” a woman said, sitting at the airport terminal. She saw my Ron Paul pin on my shirt, and knew I was on her same flight to Tampa for the Republican National Convention.
“Yeah,” I said. It felt kinda neat to be recognized like that.
“WOW! I can’t believe it! You’re so important! A real Ron Paul delegate! Oh we are rooting for you so much! Good luck!” she and her friend waved me goodbye.
I said, “Don’t worry, for me, it’s Ron Paul or bust!” as I got on the airplane for a first class seat. Once we got in the air, I saw nothing but clouds as far as the eye could see. Florida was supposed to get hit by a hurricane, and everyone was warning me to bring an umbrella, which I forgot.
But once we got to Florida, the skies were completely clear. It was hard to believe that a hurricane threatened this tropical wonderland. We checked into our hotel, met up with the other two Hawaii Ron Paul delegates, and went to the Ron Paul Festival – an event that had been anticipated for months.
It was going to be like Woodstock. Big name bands, and speakers taking the stage with thousands of Ron Paul supporters in the audience, and vendors galore. But when we got to the fair, it seemed more like an empty field. Grass as far as the eye could see, with no one but a security guard to talk to. Where was the festival?
“Oh go around back, it’s in the building,” said the security guard. We went around back, and we saw the building, but we didn’t see any cars. Then another security guard said, “Are you trying to get out of here?”
“No, we’re trying to find our way into the Ron Paul Festival,” we said. The security guard pointed us to a small line of people at a little ticket counter. We went through the line, and everyone was saying, “Gee, maybe we’re just early. Where is everybody?”
We walked in the building, and the first thing we saw was a giant picture of Gary Johnson. Next to it was a row of vendors selling Gary Johnson stuff. There were two more rows of vendors selling Ron Paul shirts and bumper stickers, and a separate room that could probably seat 3,000 people. Except, there were only about 30 people there. On stage was a guy talking about Gary Johnson. Were we at the right place?
The four of us walked around in a complete daze for hours, trying to find something meaningful to do. We bought some Ron Paul stuff. But after that, it was right back to wondering why we came here in the first place? To be honest . . . it was really depressing.
Every once and a while, we would see a delegate (we would know because they had their name badges), and we would excitedly hug them, or shake their hands. Each delegate seemed to have their own version of a strategy that they foresaw for electing Ron Paul, so hopes were high for a while. But then we found out some aggravating news about Maine’s delegates not being seated. This meant that Ron Paul would probably not be on the ballot this coming Monday, but we still weren’t certain.
Why did we come? Why were we here? To vote? To shop? To stand around? For a long time, we were all just lost.
But then a few of us delegates started banding together at the Ron Paul Festival. Even though barely anyone was there, we delegates stuck together. We talked and strategized, and debated. The bands played to an almost completely empty house. It was depressing. These bands had come all the way from LA, and Colorado to perform for about 50 people standing in this giant venue. Everybody was just standing around, listening to the music.
I learned this trick when I was in high school that if I ever went to a dance, I could do anything if I just put sunglasses on. Normally I was too shy to do anything. I would feel so self-conscious. But if I just put on a pair of sunglasses, then I could do almost anything.
So at the Ron Paul Festival, I put on my Ron Paul sunglasses, and suddenly I became the world’s coolest dancing machine. I did moves that hadn’t even been invented yet, all perfectly timed to the music. I did moves that I didn’t even know how to do. Some people started laughing at me. Taking pictures. I danced so hard that the bands started to get pumped up again. Soon, more people started joining in, and then everybody was dancing. We danced until they had to kick us out, and they all probably thought I was crazy. I have a feeling I’m going to need a pair of sunglasses at the Republican National Convention.