LANSING, Mich. — Thousands of people descended on the Michigan Capitol earlier today as part of a national movement of tea parties to protest high taxes
LANSING, Mich. — Thousands of people descended on the Michigan Capitol earlier today as part of a national movement of “tea parties” to protest high taxes and what they argue is an encroachment of socialism into American government and society.
Addressing the rally was Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, commonly known as “Joe the Plumber,” who became a household name during the 2008 presidential race when Republican presidential candidate John McCain referred to the Ohio resident as “Joe the Plumber,” and used him as a walking metaphor for the American middle class.
“I’m here for one reason and one reason only: It’s ‘I love America,’” Wurzelbacher told the crowd. “Mainstream media wants to paint us as a bunch of extremists, right? We’re in search of liberty and our freedoms. What’s so extreme about that?”
“I’m just regurgitating,” Wurzelbacher said. “I believe in common sense.”
Wurzelbacher went on to lambaste what he said was a rising tide of “socialism” across the country and laid the blame on the U.S. government.
“Let me give you another extremist view, ‘In God We Trust,’” he said to wild applause. “Say that too loud in some parts of America and you will be shot. It’s terrible.”
Hoisting signs with slogans like “Hitler gave speeches too,” “I am only 4 and I am in debt,” and “Revolution or death,” the crowd filled the lawn of the Capitol and listened to other speakers like Scott Hagerstrom of Americans for Prosperity of Michigan; Leon Drolet of the Michigan Taxpayers’ Alliance; and Wendy Day of the Howell school board.
“Take out your cell phones, we’re going to make a call,” Drolet told the crowd. “I’m going to give you a phone number, then we are all going to hit send at the same time.”
Drolet had the crowd call the congressional switchboard, which he said would be flooded by the calls. Then he had the crowd chant: “Are you crazy? Wasting Money? People are suffering? Cut your spending!” Hundreds of cell phones were in the air.
“Let this be just the beginning of a movement. Today they heard us, but we need them to feel us,” Drolet said. “And they feel us when you make a difference in the field of the political arena. When some of the politicians lose their jobs. A recession is when your neighbor losses their job. A depression is when you lose your job and a recovery is when a politician loses their job.”
A selection of signs from the rally:
Image has not been found. URL: http://michiganmessenger.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/former-state-rep-jack-hoogendyk.jpgFormer State Rep. Jack Hoogendyk (R-Texas Corners) listens intently to speakers on the steps of the Capitol.
Image has not been found. URL: http://michiganmessenger.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/congressman-mike-rogers.jpgRepublican U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers of Brighton listens contemplatively to speakers while standing on the steps of the state Capitol.
Image has not been found. URL: http://michiganmessenger.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/can-you-hear-me-now.jpgCrowd participants dial the congressional switchboard to send a message to Congress about taxes.
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Image has not been found. URL: http://michiganmessenger.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/hate-speech.jpg
Image has not been found. URL: http://michiganmessenger.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/hitler.jpg
Image has not been found. URL: http://michiganmessenger.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/new-world-order.jpg
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Image has not been found. URL: http://michiganmessenger.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/revolution-or-die.jpg
Image has not been found. URL: http://michiganmessenger.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/slavery.jpg
Image has not been found. URL: http://michiganmessenger.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/stupid-question.jpg
Todd Heywood is a reporter for TWI’s sister site, The Michigan Messenger.
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