Anyone who doubts the continuing influence of the so-called Tea Party movement need only look at the guest list for tomorrow's third-annual Loveland Tax Day Tea Party.
Speakers constitute a who's who of conservative political power in Northern Colorado and beyond.
Those expected to be on hand include Weld County District Attorney and almost-Senator Ken Buck, now representing an organization called Balance America; state senators Kevin Lundberg and Shawn Mitchell; Patriot Today publisher Robert Rowland; GrassRoots Radio's Ken Clark; Mothers Against Debt's Amy Oliver; Northern Colorado Tea Party head Lesley Hollywood; Liberty Watch's Nancy Rumfelt; and concentration camp survivor Hulda Bachman.
The festivities, which get underway with a march along the south shore of Lake Loveland at 2 p.m. before relocating to Hammond Amphitheater at North Lake Park (Taft & 29th), are a far cry from the first Tax Day Tea Party back in 2009, says Tom Buchanan, chairman of the Loveland 9.12 Project.
"It was very impromptu, very disorganized," he concedes. "We'd just started, and we expected maybe 150 people. But 1,200 showed up at the busiest intersection in Loveland" -- 287 and Highway 34 -- "at rush hour!"
The mob was so large that Loveland police feared someone would get hurt. So Buchanan spent much of his time reminding everyone through his bullhorn to be careful not to stumble into traffic.
Everyone survived, but "after having three blocks of people six deep, we decided to move it to a safer location" in 2010, Buchanan notes. Hence the shift to the south side of Lake Loveland, where around 1,000 people marched to accompaniment from the Northern Colorado Fife and Drum Corps. The gathering was so successful that Buchanan and company decided it might be fun to invite speakers this year -- and he says everyone asked was eager to attend.
No wonder Buchanan shrugs off suggestions from progressives types that the Tea Party movement is fraying thanks to political realities reps elected by the movement are now facing.
"Actually, I think it's gaining more steam," he says. "I think more people are waking up and getting in tune to what's going on."
What about the federal budget deal, which settled on cuts considerably smaller than the those most grassroots-conservative legislators wanted?
"As far as the budget goes, it's never going to be enough for us," he concedes. "We always want to make government as small as possible. We've got to get people back to being self-reliant -- move away from social programs and get people to take care of themselves. The founders never set up the government to take care of people. They set it up to give people an equal opportunity to grow and prosper. And when you start taking care of people, you put them on the plantation, so to speak."
Still, Buchanan acknowledges that there are needs out there -- which is why tomorrow's Tax DayTea Party will also include a food drive and a fundraiser for Wellington Marine Corporal Jason Hallett, who lost both legs, one arm and part of his other hand in an Afghanistan mine explosion. "We believe that if we're going to tell the government to get smaller," he notes, "we should be picking up the slack."
For a map to the event, click here.
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