Hundreds of county residents converged in Eureka for a Tea Party rally that included a variety of speakers, some American Revolution outfits and apparent dissenters who were identified as “infiltrators.”
The second annual rally for the Tea Party movement brought together those who think a liberal-controlled government is over-spending and over-taxing. Gathering in front of the county administrative building in Eureka on April 15 — the IRS tax filing deadline — the tea partiers chatted with each other about the issues that concern them, upheld signs and got into debates with those who were outed as “liberal imposters.”
Dorice Miranda of Ferndale, one of the event’s lead organizers, said the Tea Party movement is not as partisan as it’s portrayed to be. “I think a lot of people here today are upset with both parties,” she continued. “That’s why they’re here, because they really don’t know where they belong and they aren’t seeing anybody standing up for them, as individuals.”
Miranda is a Democrat and she explained the movement as one that’s driven by a sense of urgency. “We realize our country’s at a tipping point and we have to decide if we can sustain this excessive spending that’s going on in our country today,” she said. “I think this is a pushback on that and I don’t think it’s angry people — I think these people are being very festive and are happy to be here today because they feel like they’re doing something for their country.”
The presence of those outside of the movement was denoted with arrow-shaped signage pointing to them. Sara Senger, a member of the local American Civil Liberties Union, talked about why she was at the rally as Joy Finley of Eureka held a sign that read “Liberal Imposter” above her.
“I’m just curious about what’s going on here and what these people stand for and whether they’re willing to give up their Medicare,” she said, adding that she talked to someone who was glad to do so. “But the rest of us would like Medicare to stick around and we’re in favor of the health care reform, which is going to make it easier for all us to have our medical bills paid for — and there are going to be no ‘death panels.’”
Finley was asked why she identified Senger as a liberal imposter. “She’s not here with the Tea Party movement and she’s hanging out here trying to steal our thunder by promoting her liberal agenda,” she said.
The Tea Party stands for “less government, less government intrusion, less taxes — and repeal this health care garbage, it’s just too much government in our lives,” Finley said. “We can take care of ourselves, we work and we don’t depend on the government to support us.”
Liberal “entitlement programs” were cited by Tea Party ralliers as a culprit of financial insolvency. Eureka resident Gwen Morris, one of the rally’s speakers, told the crowd that political trends can be reversed at the ballot box.
“The progressives — oh, they are counting on you to forget,” said Morris. “To forget what they have given us, forget what they have taken away — and I say ‘never forget’ and with your vote, you can show them you have not forgotten.”
Some of the rally’s most memorable moments were happening on its sidelines, as “infiltrators” were surrounded by Tea Partiers. Annie Bond, a programmer for the KMUD radio station, wore a clown outfit with rainbow colors and juggled as Gregg Dix waved a rainbow flag over the heads of Tea Partiers who questioned why they were there.
As Dix engaged his detractors in debate, Bond talked about why she came to the rally. She said the Tea Party movement resists gay rights and though she’s not gay herself, she wanted to “come here and represent a little bit.”
Bond said she wasn’t saying anything to anyone but reactions to her costume were strong. She was asked what she thought of the rally.
“Gosh, it’s like oil and water,” said Bond. “Really, there’s no way to satisfy either side being okay with the other’s views.”