Hundreds of people braved triple-digit heat Friday evening on the Hopkins County Courthouse square to hear Gov. Rick Perry, U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall and others at a rally protesting government spending and taxation.
Well over 300 had arrived for the start of Friday’s Taxed Enough Already (TEA) Party Rally at 6:30 p.m., when the heat index was above 104 degrees. Virtually everyone stayed for the two-hour slate of speakers, with the crowd swelling by at least two hundred more by the time Perry arrived at 8 p.m. to thunderous applause.
It was a homecoming of sorts for the Texas governor, who said he spent many a summer of his childhood in Hopkins County.
“The first 300-acre piece of land my daddy rented back in the 1950s, a Mr. A.W. Adams from Sulphur Springs, Texas, owned,” said Perry, who arrived after attending a similar event in Tyler. “And every summer after we got ‘laid by,’ we loaded up and drove from north of Abilene to Sulphur Springs. Y’all didn’t know you were such a metropolitan area — bright lights, running water, y’all had it all over here. It was a wonderful place.
“And this old courthouse that is a great reminder of what freedom and liberty and justice is all about, was here in those days, and it’s here today,” Perry said, shifting into full attack mode as he began lambasting the direction the federal government has taken.
That was the purpose of the rally, a follow-up to the first TEA Party Rally held at the courthouse square on April 15, one of hundreds staged across the nation that day. Carol Miller, one of the organizers of Friday’s event along with Monty and Lavada Burke, Lequida Jennings and Marsha Groves, had said the rally would focus on protesting a “bloated, wasteful, incompetent government” in the nation’s capitol, a sentiment which Perry echoed.
“It’s good to be with people who understand the shenanigans that are going on in Washington, D.C.,” Perry said. “These misguided attempts at social engineering, the threats to our freedom, the threats to our finances, the threats to our children’s future, I hope and pray will be futile, that they will not be successful, because Americans have stood up to that type of issue and said ‘No.’”
Perry said the gathering was not designed to preach rebellion or insurrection, “but to express our love for this great country, to discuss how to keep it from running off the cliff” through a growing movement of “sensible people" who “just can’t abide the ongoing assault on our values.”
“Being here proves ... that you love this country so much that you’re willing to take a stand for it, to raise your voice in defense of those freedoms,” the governor said.
Perry touched on familiar themes that other speakers had railed against earlier in the evening, such as Hopkins County Republican Party Chairman Erwin Cain, who criticized federal spending plans recently passed by Congress.
“When Congress railroads a $787 billion, 1,419-pages stimulus package with 24 hours of public review that not one single legislator in Washington read before it was passed, is that freedom?” Cain asked, receiving a loud chorus of “No!”s in response.
“We’ve lost more than our robust economy,” Cain said. “We’re being taxed without adequate representation. That is tyranny. Our servants have become our masters.
If we sit timidly by and allow socialists and Marxists to steal our freedom, we have neither liberty nor valor. We are no longer the land of the free nor the home of the brave.”
[Rallying the troops - U.S. Rep. Ralph M. Hall, District 4, addresses the crowd during Friday evening’s TEA party on the square. Staff Photo by Luis Noble.]
Rallying the troops - U.S. Rep. Ralph M. Hall, District 4, addresses the crowd during Friday evening’s TEA party on the square. Staff Photo by Luis Noble.
U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall, who spoke before Perry, said he disagreed with both former President Bush and the current commander-in-chief on the bailout bills, and that the public’s response let him know he’d made the right decision.
“When you get letters and calls 100 to one against something like the bailout, you ought to listen,” he said.
He said he spoke with Obama and offered to tell him why he’d voted against the stimulus bill eight times.
“You know what I was going to tell him? I voted ‘no’ eight times because there wasn’t any place to vote ‘hell no.’”
Global warming is a hoax. I have a list of some 120 people, physicists, all types of people recognized as the very best, that say it’s not going to happen.
“Let me tell you something. I believe God’s in control of global freezing and global warming, and I don’t believe we’re 4 percent of it.”
“They’re up there putting tax after tax on the energy states, tax after tax on the people of education, they’re about to give you a health plan that’s absolutely run and controlled in Washington, D.C. Is that what you want?”
He urged those in attendance to follow the voting records in Washington.
“Let the people who vote against the state of Texas know how you feel. Let them know that the same people that sent them up there can jerk their you-know-what’s out of there.”
Other speakers included Art Romanant, who took to task Democrats who opposed a voter ID bill in Austin, as well as legislators from both parties in Washington.
“We’re in debt for more than a trillion dollars, and soon it will be more than $10 trillion,” he said.
“These people want to take over our medical coverage,” added Romanant, a member of the Hopkins County Veterans Memorial Committee. “They want to spend $1.6 trillion to get coverage, and that’s for one-third of the uninsured. Where’s the money coming from? Let me give you a hint — check your nearest mirror.”
C.J. Duffey, pastor of Color Blind Ministries, was in perfect pulpit-pounding form as he called for those at the rally to look to their spiritual side for help.
“We’re fighting the devil that’s set up in Washington,” he said. “You’re being tested, but it’s an open book test, and you need to get that Bible and look into it.
“It’s time for this country to get on its knees to find answers,” he said.
But it was Perry who brought the crowd to their feet with his impassioned words.
“The federal government has its fingers way too far in our pockets, its nose way too far in our business, and its fingers too deep in its own ears to hear what the American people are trying to tell it,” Perry said to repeated cheers. “I’m an animal science major from Texas A&M University, but I understand how to run a government. You keep the taxes low. You don’t spend all the money. You keep the regulatory climate fair and balanced. You have a legal system in place that doesn’t allow people to over-sue each other. You keep an educated workforce in place. And then you get out of the way and let the private sector do what the private sector does — create jobs and wealth. That’s not rocket science.”
And Perry, preparing for a re-election run in 2010, said Texas is the perfect blueprint for how to achieve those goals.
“There is a reason why more Fortune 500 companies call Texas home than any other state,” he said. “We’re the number one exporting state in the country, for the seventh year in a row, I might add. In 2008, Texas created more jobs than the other 49 states combined. It didn’t happen by accident.”
The governor said he was “at an absolute loss how Washington and this administration can justify the approach that they’re taking.”
“Any one of these small businesses around the square, if you think that you can borrow your way to prosperity, that you can spend your way to prosperity, you might want to consider taking a course in economics 101, and I’d suggest the same class for all the people in Washington, D.C.,” Perry said. “And while they’re at it, they might also want to take a refresher course on the United States Constitution.”
That especially applies to the 10th Amendment, he said.
“Whether it’s their abysmal failure at border security, whether it’s this bailout train wreck that’s happening to our economy, the federal government should leave state-level problems to the states,” Perry told the crowd. “Give the states the right to decide those important issues.
“Our Founding Fathers put limits on the federal government for a reason. They saw what the British monarchy was doing. They understood what happens when government goes unchecked. Those limits that are so clearly laid out in the Constitution aren’t slowing down those folks in Washington, D.C. They are continuing to erode our rights, waste our tax dollars, and bury the next generation under a mountain of debt. I think it’s well past time to halt this endless intrusion into our lives, put a stop to this out-of-control spending, restore our commitment to a shared set of values, values that were forged on the anvil of experience, values that our men and women have died for all over this globe. I’m talking about life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I’m talking about the uniquely American freedom to plot one’s own course, pursue one’s own dream, choose the light bulb you want, not just the one that happens to be the favorite of the president.”
In closing, he urged people to use their cell phone to text the words “fed up” to 95613.
“If you’re fed up, text it to me, and we’re going to gather up all those names, and we’re going to send Washington a message day after day after day that in Texas, we are fed up,” he said. “They need to hear us loud and clear with a simple message: Cut spending, cut taxes, shrink government, re-read the Constitution and return to the values and the precepts that made our country great. Do this, and the future will be bright.
“God bless you, and through you, God bless America.”
The crowd rose to its feet in unison and rewarded the governor with a standing ovation that lasted a full 36 seconds.