Story and photos by DOTTY NIST
“They’re not going to be able to ignore us any longer,” said Mary Brown, co-organizer for the April 15 Walton County Tea Party.
Brown, a 30-year Walton County resident and business owner, and Bob Sullivan, a retired Air Force officer, spearheaded the event on short notice soon after they both attended a tea party in another area.
Organizers estimated that over 250 people showed up on the grounds of the South Walton Courthouse Annex to join in protesting high taxes and too much government spending. The tea party took place on the same day as hundreds of similar gatherings all over the country.
There were American flags flying and more angry signs than one could shake a stick at, along with speeches, and patriotic music. A petition expressing opposition to excessive taxation was available for signing, and attendees could write their names on tea bags, which were tied to a Tree of Freedom.
“We’ve been way too complacent too long,” Brown told the crowd, adding, “I’m concerned about the direction this country is headed.” She called for an end to the nation running up debts to be left to “our children and grandchildren to pay.”
“We are borrowing from foreign countries and someday that bill is going to come due,” Brown warned.
Jerry Melvin, former state representative, later took the stage, praising those responsible for the gathering. Melvin quoted a statement by Norman Thomas, a Socialist Party candidate for six elections prior to 1970, in which he predicted that America would unknowingly adopt the Socialist program “under the name of ‘liberalism.’”
Melvin called for an end to presidential executive orders. “We are not a dictatorship,” he told the crowd.
“Anti” movements are often criticized for not putting forth a positive plan as an alternative, but this was not the case in this instance. Representing the Florida Fair Tax Educational Organization, Kerry Bowers provided a presentation on the Fair Tax proposal, which is now incorporated in House Resolution 25. The bill has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Bowers explained that Fair Tax would do away with income taxes, to be replaced by a 23-percent sales tax on the purchase of any new (not used) items. Any tax on savings or investments would be eliminated, he added.
Bowers predicted that putting the Fair Tax in place would attract investment back to the United States by the trillions of dollars, away from offshore financial centers, thereby greatly increasing the nation’s monetary supply, loan capability, and employment opportunities.
While the tea party had been billed as nonpartisan, much heat was directed at the Obama administration, now in its fourth month, and Democrat politicians.
“He should have never been in the White House,” a woman taking the microphone said of Obama. Another speaker said she was ashamed to have voted for him.
The U.S. Congress in general was berated by several speakers, and a number of signs called for term limits for politicians.
South Walton County resident Charlotte Flynt had a different take on term limits, saying that they already exist. “It’s called your vote,” she said, encouraging citizens to educate themselves on candidates.
“Take the time to educate your children and your grandchildren about our history. If we forget, we perish,” added Tim Lamica.
On the local front, Walton County Commission Chair Sara Comander noted that commissioners have cut $10 million from the county budget over the past two years and may cut $7 million in the next fiscal year’s budget. She told attendees that the county commission needs to know what programs and services are important to residents in order to prioritize spending. “I represent you, but I’ve got to hear you,” she said.
Grayton Beach pioneer Linda Eyer said this was the first rally she had ever attended, at age 68. She described herself as “fed up with Washington.”
“They have lost touch with us,” she railed.
“We can’t go home today and quit;” Eyer urged the participants, “we are here, baby, and we are going to make ourselves known!”
Sullivan said the organizers would try to hold another the Walton County Tea Party rally on the Fourth of July.
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