For citizens gathered at Julia Davis Park and then the Capitol steps in Boise Thursday, it was all about taxes, the Constitution, Congress, and Obamacare. According to estimates, approximately 1,235 people showed up at the Boise Tea Party Inc.'s 2nd Annual Tax Day Rally.
The event began at the bandshell in the park at 10:30, with fired up men, women, and children carrying American flags and signs with various messages of a political nature. In the park, rally-goers heard from actors playing several historical figures in old-time clothing. Local radio personalities Nate Shelman of 670 AM KBOI, and Kevin Miller of 580 AM KIDO, stirred up the crowd with anti-big government speeches.
Miller told the crowd that America is in a tough time, but that the country has survived much tougher times, including the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, and Sept. 11. He urged citizens to vent their anger through getting involved at the local level by running for office and voting in each election.
"It's all about the voting booth," said Miller. Shelman joined with that notion, telling people that "you have the ability, and the duty, to go vote."
Miller cautioned the crowd against violence after someone in the crowd yelled "tar and feather them" in reference to politicians.
"I don't know about that," said Miller, distancing himself from the remarks. "That's a little too old school for me."
Miller summed up what many in the crowd were trying to say with their signs, t-shirts, and stickers: "This is a war for the hearts and minds of the people. It's time we make an example out of each and every politician that only cares about special interests and not about you."
Following the activities at the park and with chants of "vote them out" and "U-S-A," rally-goers streamed onto Capitol Boulevard and, with the help of several officers from the Boise Police Department, who were diverting traffic, made their way up to the steps of Capitol. There, citizens were greeted with singing, and more speeches about patriotism and the true meaning of the Constitution. An actor portraying Patrick Henry told the crowd that the time to fight is now, and then delivered Henry's famous line, "give me liberty, or give me death," which garnered roars of applause from the crowds.
One of the major topics of concern for rally-goers and speakers alike was the recent passage of health care reforms by the U.S. Congress, often dubbed as "Obamacare." Tim Floyd, a local orthopedic surgeon and Army doctor, said that universal health care, which he believes is the end goal in the health care reforms, will ruin the nation's status as the top health care provider in the world. He said that leaders from countries with socialized medicine, including Canada, come to America to receive premium health care service, citing a recent news report of a Canadian provincial leader who came to the states for a heart procedure. Floyd believes that not only will reforms not help the country, they will "diminish the quality of health care" for the majority of Americans.
"American medical centers work miracles around the clock," said Floyd. "American medicine is so much better than other countries because of the freedom that the Founding Fathers built into our system of government." Floyd warned that government involvement and control of health care would lead to care rationing through bureaucratic, cost-saving measures.
Several legislators and candidates for various political offices attended the rally, but none were allowed to speak because, as event organizer Russ Smerz told IdahoReporter.com last week, the group wanted the event to be about the people, which is also the essence of government. That didn't stop politicians from selling themselves to the crowd, however. Candidates for governor, including Republican Rex Rammell and Independent Pro-Life (formerly Marvin Richardson), attended the rally, as did candidates for the state Legislature, including Republicans Lucas Baumbach, challenging Sen. Elliot Work in Boise's District 17 , and Dr. Greg Firch, running for Idaho's House in District 18. Republican candidates for the U.S. Congress, Raul Labrador, running to challenge Democrat Walt Minnick in the state's 1st Congressional District, and Russ Mathews, vying to unseat Republican Congressman Mike Simpson in Idaho's 2nd Congressional District, also made brief appearances. State Reps. JoAn Wood, R-Rigby, and Pete Nielson, R-Mountain Home, also attended.
Following the event, Smerz told IdahoReporter.com that he believed the event was a success and that the organization plans to continue Tax Day Rallies into the foreseeable future.
(Note: IdahoReporter.com took a small inventory of the signs and messages displayed by those at the rally. View what people gathered at the Capitol had to say here.You can also see why counter-protesters and Obama supporters showed up at the rally here.)