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SACRAMENTO – “I’m here because the winds of adversity are blowing across America. Unless we recapture the spirit of America, we are going to suffer more adversity than we already have seen.”
Art Mijares, 60, leaned against a pillar in the cool shadow of the California state capitol building. He traveled an hour and a half to attend the Sacramento Tax Day tea party today.
Sacramento Tax Day tea-party rally (WND photo, Chelsea Schilling)
He paused for a moment with the look of an embattled warrior in his eyes and offered his thoughts on why he believes the tea-party movement is essential to the survival of the nation.
Art Mijares, 60
“This country was based upon biblical principle and Judeo-Christian ethics,” he said. “Somehow our leaders have lost their way over the years. That’s why we’re in so much trouble.”
Mijares held a large sign that read simply, “Come what may, I’m going to trust Jesus.”
He added gently, “I believe the tea-party movement is a movement of God. It’s an answer to our prayers.”
Mijares was just one of thousands of tea partiers who flocked to the state capitol to “recapture the spirit of America” – and that protest was only one of nearly 800 in cities across the nation.
Folsom, Calif., resident Bettye Mahan
People from a variety of backgrounds and generations spilled into the streets and surrounded the towering white building.
“Can you hear us up there?” the man at the microphone shouted to legislators inside.
A roar came from the crowd – a patriotic sea of red, white and blue banners speckled with sunflower-yellow Gadsden “Don’t Tread on Me” flags.
Their battle cry: “Vote them out! Vote them out! Vote them out!”
Folsom, Calif., resident Bettye Mahan carried a sign that read, “BO stinks and so does Pelosi.”
She told WND, “I’m here because I’m fighting for my country. These people are violating our Constitution, and it needs to stop. They’re stealing our country.”
Sacramento residents George and Betty Weaver
Sacramento residents George and Betty Weaver dressed in Uncle Sam and Statue of Liberty costumes and held a large sign encouraging citizens to change the nation by casting their ballots this year.
“We’re here to make the government accountable and to tell them to follow our Constitution as it was written,” George Weaver said.
Radio talk-show host and best-selling author Larry Elder took the stage and greeted a cheering crowd. He spoke of income-redistribution schemes and increased taxation promoted by President Obama and Congress.
“They want to take from you and give to another person, and it doesn’t matter what it does to this country,” he said.
“That’s right!” shouted one elderly woman who wore red, white and blue sequins and proudly waved a U.S. flag above her head.
“Obamacare requires everyone to purchase health-care insurance or else,” Elder told the mass. “This is a full frontal assault, a shock and awe against our Constitution!”
The crowd boomed with applause.
Elder spoke of “failed” government entitlements such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. He said the last thing the nation needs is another botched entitlement program.
“The good thing is, come November, they’re going to hear us,” he promised. “We’re going to take this country back!”
Retired orthopedic surgeon Landrus Pfeffinger
One member of the audience was Landrus Pfeffinger, a 62-year-old retired orthopedic surgeon from San Francisco. He wore a sandwich-board sign declaring, “Glad I retired from medicine.”
Pfeffinger blasted the Democrats’ recently passed health-care plan.
“The Democrats didn’t have to do it this way,” he said. “I think most Americans were for health-care reform, but not this product, not this way, not the process in which they did it.”
Asked whether he believes the plan will devastate practices and doctors, he responded, “Absolutely. That’s one of the reasons I retired. It’s bad enough having to deal with HMOs. This will be HMOs on steroids, and people will not have any recourse when they deny and delay care. Reimbursement for physicians and hospitals will continue to go down. Basically Medicare right now, for most treating physicians, is a charity event.”
He added, “I know a well-trained hand surgeon in Oakland who had to take out a home-equity loan to pay his overhead for a period of about three to four months while he was trying to get reimbursement from his Medicare billing.”
Roger Hedgecock speaking at Sacramento tea party
Pfeffinger said he doesn’t believe the Democrat health plan is what its supporters expect it will be.
“It really is a Trojan horse,” he said. “If the current powers that be remain in power, they know it’s going to be very difficult to undo because it will be considered an entitlement program. Anybody who tries to take it out or reduce it in any manner will be demonized.”
Just then, radio-talk host and WND columnist Roger Hedgecock took the stage. He was greeted by an animated crowd of energetic fans.
“You are not alone in your fear for the country,” he said. “You are not alone in your concern for the direction of our government. You are not alone in the thought that the ruling class has somehow slipped the boundaries that the founders put in the Constitution and we are now careening out of control with unsustainable debt and increasing programs.”
Hedgecock continued, “We stand together today for our Constitution. We stand together today for our freedoms and liberties. We stand for something maybe even more important than that: we stand together for the idea that the individual counts more than the government!”
The mass erupted in spirited applause.
Paul, 18, Joseph, 22, and Alfred, 24, three brothers from Lodi, Calif., stood side-by-side wearing tricornered hats. They told WND their family opened a backhoe business in 1997 and recently added a shredding business. But they said the tax burden is becoming unbearable, and they don’t believe Obama and the Democrats in Congress represent their interests.
Paul, 18, Joseph, 22, and Alfred, 24, three brothers from Lodi, Calif.
“We’re here to protest Obamacare passing and all the taxes we are forced to pay for our small business,” Alfred told WND. “It’s getting harder and harder by the year to survive. The taxes we’re paying are ridiculous. We can barely make a living year to year.”
He added, “Hopefully in 2010 we’ll get some good people in there and take our country back.”
At that moment, one middle-aged man meandered through the crowd pulling a tattered bicycle. He appeared to be lost.
The man asked, “Where are the Obama people?”
Obama supporters and tea-party crashers were nowhere to be found in the crowd of 5,000 to 10,000 people.
Asked whether he was an Obama devotee, he reluctantly mumbled, “Yeah, are you?”
Receiving only grins in return, he lowered his head and wandered aimlessly through the crowd.