Sunday, June 6, 2010

Tea Party

It was with a slight bit of trepidation that yesterday I attended the Tea Party rally in Ontonagon, Michigan, on the shore of Lake Superior. Even though I'm a liberal, "know thine enemy" wasn't on my mind; rather, as a writer I sought further insight into the people that provide the prototypes for the "Porkies" in my Porcupine County mystery novels.

I counted 100 of them as the rally opened, about 125 when I left half an hour later. Most were over 60; all were white. That's not really significant, because the median age in Ontonagon County (46 years) is the highest in all Michigan, and nonwhites make up less than 1 per cent of the population. Liberal Democratic rallies would be just as white, although considerably younger.

The Tea Partiers' political sentiments, echoed in patriotic speeches by several candidates for state office and Congress, seemed unremarkable, too. Familiar ultraconservative beliefs were broadcast over the loudspeakers: trust in God, small government, family values, term limits, property rights, low taxes. There was also a good deal of anti-incumbent, anti-abortion, anti-liberal, anti-Obamacare and pro-military rhetoric.

But it was delivered in mostly soft tones, and received the same way. The applause was polite, even subdued.

People were friendly to the stranger with the big camera. There was no hostility at all.

My sense is that whatever one might say about their politics, these are good folks, unworthy of being demonized by their political opposites.

But would these Tea Partiers extend the same forbearance to their brethren who hold different views? That is the question.

The press was there, doing its job.

I once rode a vintage Indian motorcycle like this one.


  1. Tea Partys have no central command structure, but are made up of loosely organized groups that share the same political ideas. It stands to reason that the Ontonagon group might be made up of concerned but quiet and well-behaved folks while another group, say, in southern Ohio might be made up of people so bitter and angry that they yell hateful things and make lots of noise for the cameras.

  2. I only recognize one person as a local and I've lived here for years! Where were they brought in from?

  3. I recognized maybe half a dozen, but I do believe that many of the people there were from elsewhere -- the Lady Friend said she heard a few say they drove in from Wisconsin. Probably some were the politicians' posses.

    Didn't photograph everybody, of course.