The Tax Day Tea Party in Portland proper occurred in Pioneer Square, surrounded by towering buildings. At 6:45 or so (when I arrived) the crowd was large and loud. Abundant homemade signs and American flags large and small filled the air. The people were chanting "USA USA" and later shouting "Freedom!" and "We the people". The speakers were not delivering substantive addresses, but rather feeding the energy of the crowd with rousing speeches about America the great.
The mindset and language of the speakers reflected a Christian bias, with a great many references to God, and to the Ten Commandments and such. There was no mention of the separation of church and state. There were no concessions to any other possible religious affiliation, or to atheists. There were no speeches about the Federal Reserve or corporate law. There was no mention of fascism. There were numerous mentions of "the left wing" having gotten us into our current predicament. There was a lot of worry about Socialism. One Libertarian speaker was trying to people to join that party.
The crowd was predominantly middle aged, with a few elders and perhaps 20% in the under-30 range. The right-wing members said they thought the crowd was bipartisan. The left wing members of the crowd thought the crowd was right wing. There was a notable (for Portland) lack of gays "out" in the crowd.
I spoke at length with a lady that had a sign reading "Would you prefer tea or koolaid?". (photo sent last night). She said she thinks we are drinking the koolaid by letting authority figures decide for us. She is from a rural area in Washington. She told me that she supported Obama until she heard Wright say "God Damn America" on the TV, and heard the scandal about Ayers. After that she was scared of him, and voted for McCain. When I mentioned that I had supported Ron Paul she said she wished she had known more about him then. She did not believe me when I told her that Obama was a constitutional law professor, and asked me for details I did not have. She said that she is worried about what is going to happen to our country because of our debt. She said that she does not feel sure that we are going to be able to get out of the mess we are in. She is worried that other countries will take over the US. She seemed a little upset that I asked her such hard questions, when she wanted the event to be a party.
The few people I spoke with seemed similar to her--fairly uninformed, frightened and angry. The general tone was one of anger and alarm at the bailouts of corporations, and worry about our debt and the dollar. The mentions of taxation came mostly from speakers. The event ended at 7:30 with a group recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. The words "under God" were emphasized by the speaker and by the crowd.
Pioneer Square is reported to have held as many as 10,000 people in prior events. I would estimate the crowd size at 2,500-3,000 heads for this event. It was pretty easy to get around, and even to get to the front row. One person who had been to the Salem event earlier said the crowd there was much larger.
I asked random people "what are we going to do now?" on my way out. I got no response from most people. The people who did respond mostly were in line with this statement from one participant: "The most important thing is that we were there." I disagree, but that seemed to be the consensus. People think that showing up and waving a flag or a sign is doing some good.