Saturday April 14th brought the intersection of two seemingly irreconcilable groups of political activists in the hometown of Sarah Palin (it is also my hometown, since 1985). On Saturday morning, the Mat-Su Democrats, easily the most progressive area Democratic Party organization, held their presidential choice caucus, and met in their legislative district groups (for the last time, as statewide redistricting will fragment them by the end of June). Saturday afternoon, the Conservative Patriots Group Tea Party of Wasilla, easily the most regressive area Tea Party organization, held their annual tax day protest less than a mile from where the Democrats were winding down their caucus.
I attended the Mat-Su Democrats’ caucus as a party member (and past district and area officer). I was questioned by the State Central Committee Treasurer – a dear friend of mine – as soon as I came in.
“You’re not going to object to the nomination of Obama, are you, Phil?”
I hadn’t thought of what I might do when motions were presented. I asked, “Why?”
“Every other area caucus has endorsed the President by acclamation, and by unanimous consent. If you object, we would be the only group that didn’t do that.”
“Do you want me to STFU?”
“What does ‘STFU’ mean?”
A friend interjected, “It means ‘abstain,” I think.”
“In that case, yes,” replied the statewide treasurer.
I decided to not make waves on the issue and said “Sure.”
I brought a poll with me. I had four questions I wanted to ask both the Wasilla Democrats and Wasilla Tea Party Patriots. I polled 18 of the 78 or 79 people there. I attended my district caucus of 22 people, voted on resolutions for the upcoming state convention in Fairbanks, and signed up to be a delegate.
After the scheduled events were over, I drove over to Wasilla Lake, where the Tea Party event was about to start. I had polled this annual tax day protest in 2009 and 2010. I missed 2011 because of a work schedule conflict. I polled 20 of the 350 people there with the same questions I’d posed to the local Dems. The poll results for both groups are below the fold. [cont'd]
The 2008 Mat-Su Democrats presidential caucus had drawn about 900 people, compared to 2012′s 80. The 2009 Tea Party Wasilla protest had drawn about 500 compared to this Saturday’s 260 to 275 I counted. Though not part of my poll, I asked several of these “conservatives” about their gut feelings on Romney. Most who lauded him were clearly faking it and back-pedaled when I probed:
“So do you really think Romney’s choices at Treasury would be that different from the people Obama has in there?”
“Uh, yeah, uh sure. Well, I hope so!” was one reply.
Here’s my four-question poll, with a direct comparison between our local progressive Democrats and very Christianist Tea Party. Some people did not answer every question:
1. President Obama’s administration’s Solicitor General recently sided with plaintiffs in the Supreme Court Decision granting police authority to strip search any prisoner held, even for the smallest charge. Do you agree?
Agree: Democrats – 2 — Tea Party- 0
Disagree: Democrats – 15 — Tea Party – 20
2. President Obama asserts the right to be able to assassinate any American overseas for any reason his advisors see fit, without recourse to even attempt due process. He also asserts that all information on how these decisions are made needs to be kept secret. Do you agree?
Agree: Democrats – 1 — Tea Party – 0
Disagree: Democrats – 17 — Tea Party – 20
3. President Obama has markedly expanded the use of of armed drone strikes in countries around the world. Do you agree?
Agree: Democrats – 4 — Tea Party – 6
Disagree: Democrats – 12 — Tea Party – 12
4. President Obama has used the Espionage Act for prosecution of more people than all previous administrations combined. Do you approve?
Approve: Democrats – 0 — Tea Party -5
Disapprove: Democrats – 17 — Tea Party – 13
As I left the Tea Party event, I saw this Suburban, a Tea Party limo: