Archived Story

They threw a tea party and nobody came

Published 9:21am Thursday, August 21, 2014

On Aug. 5, 2014, a few Niles area voters decided to take a few minutes from their busy summer schedules to vote in the Michigan Primary Election.

I learned two very important facts in studying the most recent voter turnout on a website called It is the website I have visited hundreds of times during my career in Washington and Lansing. It breaks down the vote for all parties by precinct in both primary and general elections. Check it out and compare the Niles area to other regions of the county. You will find that the only municipality that could care less than Niles about voting is the City of Benton Harbor.

This year, I discovered that locally, less than six percent of the people voted within the City of Niles, and the township only did a little better.

I was relieved that the 5th Precinct in Niles Township, where I cast my vote, had the most voters participating at 12 percent.

Looking at this year’s primary results nationally, I determined the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party has all but vanished from the pages of election history.

Of all the hundreds of Republican incumbents running for re-election in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives all but two were re-nominated in this year’s Republican primaries.

The national media trumped up Tea Party Republicans as a tidal surge of malcontents placing the national party in great peril, but yet only U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall, a 90 year old gentleman from Dallas, Texas and the uber arrogant U.S. Representative Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader from Virginia, got beaten by the Tea Party Machine.

Only two Tea Party candidates prevailed across the country. This bodes well for the mainstream moderates and conservatives that make up the Republican Party, and the huge number of independents the GOP attracts.

Our State Representative David Pagel, and our U.S. Representative Fred Upton all won by huge margins in this year’s primaries by soundly defeating Tea Party candidates, and all indications are these incumbents will prevail in November.

But I can’t help but ask myself what might have happened if more people had voted in this year’s Republican primary election. I also ask myself why people don’t vote at all, especially those who are so critical and angry at the state and federal government.

Throughout my 40 years working in and around politics, I have firmly held that if you do not vote, you are the problem, not the government.

Voting in the United States is a right of democracy given to us through the U.S. Constitution. People have fought wars and died for our right to vote.

To stay home on Election Day is tantamount to desecrating the graves of our veterans.

Honor our heroes and vote on Election Day this November. Make up for the vote you didn’t cast in August.


A native of Niles, Jack Strayer moved back home in 2009 after living and working in Washington DC since 1976. Strayer has served as a congressional staffer, state legislative press secretary, federal registered lobbyist and Vice President of the National Center for Policy Analysis. He is a nationally recognized expert on federal health policy reform and led the fight for the enactment of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).

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