Citizens hold American Patriots Rally outside Garfield County Courthouse
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – “Last year we were angry, but we didn’t know quite why,” Betty Scranton recalled of a hastily organized Tax Day Tea Party rally on the Garfield County Courthouse lawn on April 15, 2009, that drew roughly 100 people.
“This year we get it, and this year we’re going to make it count,” said Scranton, organizer of Thursday’s American Patriots Rally, again held on Tax Day and again outside the courthouse.
The rally took place in conjunction with others around the country, using the federal income tax deadline day to spread the Tea Party movement’s message of fiscal conservatism, fewer taxes and limited government.
More than 100 people attended the Glenwood rally, determined to shake up politics from local elections to those for the state Legislature, the governor’s office and Congress in the November elections.
“We have more challenges this year than we did last year,” said Dendy Heisel of Glenwood Springs, who organized the first Tax Day rally in Glenwood Springs as the fledgling movement was picking up steam nationally three months after President Barack Obama took office.
“The biggest threat in this nation is the growing debt,” Heisel said, referring to the billions of dollars in new government spending related to the recently passed health care bill and last year’s stimulus package.
“We need to support politicians who are going to cut spending, not keep spending,” she said. “That’s the biggest threat to our security and way of life right now, and we’re rapidly reaching the point where we won’t be able to determine our own course.”
The longtime active member of the Garfield County Republican Party, like others at the rally, was careful not to make the message too partisan.
“It isn’t just, ‘We’re mad because we’re not the party in power,'” Heisel said. “Elected officials from both parties have been highly irresponsible, and we as citizens have fallen asleep.”
She’s looking for a single pledge from candidates in this year’s elections to stop the spending.
Recently re-elected Silt Mayor Dave Moore, who spoke at the rally, added “repeal, baby, repeal,” to the vows he’s looking for from candidates running for office this year.
“When these people get to Washington and to Denver, they have to repeal the laws that got us into this septic system,” he said.
“I fell asleep in my campaign and darn near lost,” said Moore, who was confirmed the winner of the Silt election by just five votes in a recount this week. “We’ve done the same thing in America, but the sleeping is over. The mighty giant has arisen, and we will tell our candidates what we expect of them.”
Mike Gamba of Glenwood Springs carried a sign reading, “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money,” a quote attributed to conservative former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
“When people are taking more money than there are people earning it, the economy will shut down,” he said. “That’s what’s happening now.”
Gamba said he doesn’t view the Tea Party movement as strictly a resurgence of the Republican Party after defeats in recent years both in Colorado and nationally.
“It’s a movement that embraces all walks – Democrats, Republicans, independents,” he said. “It’s a group of people who are fed up with politics as usual, regardless of what party it is.”
Added Jeremy Heald of Rifle, “We have to get people in office that speak for the people, and vote people out that no longer represent us.”
Scranton said she was called to action to organize this year’s event because she feels like the country is being transformed without the permission of its citizens.
“We love who we are as Americans, and we don’t want to be anything else,” she said. “We choose to be uncommon, and we don’t need government to look after us.”
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