ALPENA - Six presenters spoke of constitutional values and answered questions at Tea Party Alpena's meeting at the Alpena County Library on Thursday, among them a former Secretary of State, National Rifle Association representatives, local political activists, and a local pastor.
Tea Party Alpena President Bob Lamb welcomed the congregation with a speech lamenting the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, calling it an "abomidable" law that can only be repealed if President Barack Obama loses the election. He then introduced former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, who was selected recently as the National Michigan Committeewoman for the Republican National Committee, to discuss her opinions and efforts to help Republicans win elections in November. She expressed excitement about Republican candidate Mitt Romney's Michigan heritage and how it might help keep "conservative, constitutional" Republicans in office in Michigan, and she said she would like to see more opportunities for politicians to hear from their constituents.
"The RNC's convention is every four years. Well, in this day and age of Twitter and Facebook and cable and Fox News, time goes fast, and presidential campaigns start eariler and earlier, and I think we need accountability from our elected officials," she said. "I think we ought to have a big four-year convention where all the folks come together across the country and have President Romney come and talk to us and have the congressional (people) come and talk to us, and talk to us about what's going on."
Answering questions, she confirmed that the Secretary of State does not have the authority to say "no" to a recount, that recounts are not unheard of in Michigan, that she has personally been endorsed by both Teamsters and the National Rifle Association in the past, and that she disagreed with Gov. Rick Snyder's decision to veto a bill requiring voters to present a photo ID at the polls but would reserve judgement until further elaboration from him. She urged voters to share their opinions with her via Twitter, Facebook, or email.
NRA senior field representative Al Herman then urged the group to stand against a United Nations proposal that would keep a global record of who owns firearms, though he reiterated the NRA's stance as a non-partisan, single-issue organization only dedicated to Second Amendment affairs. NRA Institute for Legislative Action representative Tony Cutter followed with a plea for people to get involved, put their Second Amendment rights ahead of their fear of offending people, and convince their fellow gun owners to vote.
Lamb then introduced former salesman and political activist Rev. Donald Derby to say a few words, which Derby qualified as his own opinion and not that of the church, but an opinion informed by his own Christian understanding. He accused public schools of rewriting history, ignoring Thanksgiving history, and excising religion from education. He also expressed grave concern with the Affordable Care Act and urged Christians to take better care of their poor so Democrats would have less incentives to push entitlement programs.
"Sit down with the Bible in one hand and the United States Constitution in the other, and remember that these are not living documents, as some would like to refer to them, for they do not change along with the culture. The message that was given at their inception is true today," he said.
Alpena County Republican Party Chairman Jesse Osmer concluded with a rundown of ways to get involved in the election: door-to-door circuits, phone banks, yard signs, letters to the editor, bumper stickers, election day chauffeuring, and volunteering as a poll watcher.
Andrew Westrope can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5693.