Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

April 16, 2010

Tax Day Tea Party

Hundreds gather in protest

EFFINGHAM — The organizer of the second annual Tax Day Tea Party said Thursday that the tea party movement needs to be transformed into a campaign mechanism for conservative candidates running for office in this fall’s general election.

    “It’s time to put down the protest signs and pick up campaign signs,” said Brian Milleville, who was one of several speakers at Thursday’s tea party on the west side of the old Effingham County Courthouse.

    More than 700 people attended Thursday’s event. The crowd surrounded the courthouse gazebo and extended back nearly as far as Jefferson Avenue. They were treated to a number of speakers, including Dr. Joe Hartman, a St. Anthony High School graduate who is now a cardiologist in Naperville.

    “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore,” Hartman said.

    After calling President Barack Obama “the most racist man in America” because the president refers to himself as “black” despite his biracial background, the doctor called for “hyphenated Americans” to see themselves more as Americans than the place they came from.

    “If your race or ethnicity is so important, we don’t understand that,” he said. “Drop the hyphen, join the party. We welcome you.”

    Hartman said government intervention has made his job much more complicated. He displayed one of his father’s medical billing forms from the 1950s, then pulled out a billing form he uses now that is much larger.

    “What happened between now and then?” he asked. “Government happened.”

    Hartman blamed government for replacing a sense of gratitude with a sense of entitlement.

    “Life became a shopping spree,” he said.

    Hartman saved much of his spicier comments for the Obama administration.

    “Let me tell you how evil and shameless the Obama regime is,” he said. “They used the example of little Marcellus (who appeared with Obama when he signed the health care reform bill), whose mother died of something that cannot be treated.”

    Hartman added that federal health care reform, derisively referred to in conservative circles as “Obamacare,” is hated by “doctors who care” for two reasons. First, he said the pending reforms would cause doctors to violate the Hippocratic Oath, in which doctors pledge to do no harm.

    “Is it possible for me to live one day as a doctor under this system?” he asked.

    He also said the reforms will take money away from taxpayers to “give to people who don’t want to pay for health insurance.”

    So what can be done, he asked?

    Hartman advocated direct action in an effort to keep the tea party spirit alive.

    “This weekend, I want you to hang tea bags on your rear-view mirror,” he said. “This will send the message to Obama that the Injuns are coming and we’re on the warpath.”

    Hartman referred to the original Boston Tea Party, where colonists seized tea shipments in Boston Harbor on the eve of the Revolutionary War.

    “This time, we’re not throwing tea over the side of the boat,” he said. “We will throw this president and Congress overboard.”

    Milleville encouraged a large conservative voter turnout in an effort to repeal health care reform. But he added that health care isn’t the only issue conservatives should care about.

    “We are a safety valve for the world’s problems,” he said. “We have people who come here to seek their freedom, but there are also those who come to this country out of convenience.

    “Instead of securing our borders and forcing them to change their (Mexican) government, we are their safety valve and we have to stop that.”

    Other speakers included co-organizer Stephanie Rieman, Rhonda Linders of Alton, a tea party organizer in her community, and Brad Halbrook of Shelbyville, who encouraged people to sign a petition for redistricting reform.

    Some of those attending the tea party said they feared the direction the nation was taking.

    “I don’t want our country to become a socialist country,” said Kenny Meyer of rural Watson. “I’m a small businessman and I don’t think I have a chance the way the country is going.”

    Ellie Jenkins of Mattoon said Thursday was her first tea party.

    “I am tired of the government imposing higher taxes and taking away our freedoms,” Jenkins said. “There’s too much government control and we have to say so.”

    Linda Hood of St. Elmo said she attended because of her feeling that the current government is twisting the Constitution.

    “We can’t even make a living,” Hood said. “We have to get back to freedom and liberty.”

    But not everybody was toeing the tea party line Thursday. Nicholas McDowell of Heartville was among a group of young people toting signs that contained quotes from John F. Kennedy and Jimi Hendrix.

    “I supported Barack Obama and I don’t like the disrespect that’s being shown to the presidency,” McDowell said. “I think it’s time for people of my generation to speak up.”

    Rachel Wiseman of Effingham said she would have voted for Obama had she been old enough.

    “I think he’s done a pretty good job,” Wiseman said.

    Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151 ext. 132 or bill.grimes@effinghamdailynews.com

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