Tea Party Express rallies protestors in Flagstaff
On Aug. 31, Flagstaff became the seventh stop for the Tea Party Express, a moving conservative protest that focuses on big government, excessive taxing and spending, and the new health care plan proposed by President Barack Obama. The rally, held at the old Honda dealership off of Route 66, drew a crowd of more than 1,000 people waving signs and cheering as an array of speakers and several musical performers each gave their own input on the current government policies.
The rally began with Mark Williams, the vice chairman of the Our Country Deserves Better political activist committee (OCDB) and a national radio talk show host, who called for the people in the audience to “take our country back.” His speech addressed the growing threat of what he believes is socialism and the increasing amount of taxes the U.S. government is imposing upon its citizens.
“Government is too big; it’s too intrusive,” Williams said. “Stop raising our taxes. We all know we’ve got to pay taxes, right? For the essential services of the government, not the fantasies and the delusions of the Marxists and the socialists who have us by the throat.”
Arizona Treasurer Dean Martin said the problem is the government spending money it does not have and looking to the people to pay the debt.
“All of you came here today to send a message,” Martin said. “We’re tired of irresponsible spending. We’re tired of runaway government. We are sick and tired of them treating us as an ATM.”
Matt Capably, the vice-chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party, said the Tea Party was “unpatriotic” and did not merit a protest from Democrats.
“It’s the view of the party that [the Tea Party protestors] don’t really deserve a response,” Capably said. “I don’t even know what they’re complaining about. Nobody is taking away their guns.”
Capably said Republicans did not hold protests over equally big spending during the presidency of George W. Bush.
“They’re just posturing because they’re upset that they lost the election,” Capably said. “Where was the tea party [during the Bush administration]? The issues they’re raising now border on the absurd.”
Another topic addressed throughout the rally was the proposed health care reform bill, with Tom Jenny, the Arizona director of Americans for Prosperity, leading the opposition.
“All roads lead to the government telling you [that] you have to get this plan,” Jenny said. “And they tell you that the plan will include this and this and at the end of the day, that means…the government will decide who lives and who dies. In the case of national health care, that is literally the choice — liberty or death.”
The musical group Rivoli Revue then performed the song “Universal Health Care is a Big Fat No” for an enthusiastic crowd. The song has become the official Tea Party anthem and addresses what the OCDB believes are the realities involved with a health care system in which the government has complete control.
The rally ended with Deborah Johns, the vice chairman of the OCDB, calling for a procession of the veterans in attendance. Dozens of veterans, including one from WWI, crossed the stage as patriotic music played in the background.
“This is what America is about right here,” Johns said. “The men and women who fight every day for the freedoms we have.”
The Tea Party Express protests began on Aug. 28 in Sacramento, Calif. and are set to end on Sept. 12 with a march on Washington D.C.
Click Below for a photo slideshow of this event from Lumberjack Photographers
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