A recent deal between Congressional Republicans and Democrats to cut $38 billion from the remainder of the fiscal year’s federal budget didn’t impress the Tea Partiers.
“You got to be kidding me,” DiLorenzo said at the third-annual gathering in Cody’s City Park. “Thirty-eight billion dollars is chump change. It’s chump change. That’s like you and I deciding we’re not going to order a coffee and danish one day a year.”
A major call from speakers during the two-hour event was returning America to what the Founding Fathers intended and the county’s Christian roots.
DiLorenzo said leftist “progressives,” which he called re-defined socialists and communists, want the country to collapse and fall into a “socialist worker’s paradise.”
Questioning if Europe had ever come up with a good idea, DiLorenzo said America was “the last great hope for this world, and we are losing it.”
David Kellett, a Tea Party leader from Powell, said the problem with the country today is that Americans do not know the Constitution, and he encouraged attendees to learn it and teach it to their children.
“People can not argue with you when you know the truth,” Kellett said.
He said deal-making with progressives needs to end and that the country needs to return to being a republic — that is, where elected representatives and not the people directly govern — rather than being a democracy.
“Democracy devolves into dictatorship” where small groups take control, Kellet said, “which is what we have now in D.C. and sometimes even in Cheyenne.”
DiLorenzo’s brother Ray of California spoke at length about the ills of his home state.
He gave a list of celebrities who he said were “useful idiots to communist Marxists,” including Sean Penn, Tom Hanks, Michael Moore, Matt Damon and Oprah Winfrey (“You can’t tell me that Obama being black had nothing to do with her support,” Ray DiLorenzo said).
While saying Wyoming is in better shape than California and its government, debt and state university system of progressive professors, Ray DiLorezno told the audience not to become complacent.
“Let me tell you Wyoming, you are not immune. They are coming and they’re coming for you,” he said.
Jo Walker, a Tea Party organizer in Cody, asked residents to continue a “conservative tsunami wave” into the 2012 elections.
Rob DiLorenzo said the Big Horn Basin Tea Party has the ear of Wyoming’s leaders and Congressional delegation, saying the group’s leaders have private meetings, phone calls and email correspondence with the governor and the state’s Congress members.
“They listen to us. Believe me, they listen to us,” he said.
State Rep. Sam Krone, R-Cody, submitted a letter read at the gathering, as did Republican Gov. Matt Mead and U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo.
Park County Attorney Bryan Skoric was the only elected official a Tribune reporter spotted in attendance at the event. Skoric said he wouldn’t describe himself as a Tea Party guy, but said he agrees with most of what the movement stands for.
During his alloted time, Park County Republican Party Vice Chairman Glen Schultz noted that the Tea Party movement is not tied to a specific political party.
The movement’s social and fiscally conservative philosophy tends to ally most closely with Republican or Constitution parties’ platforms, but Tea Partiers are quick to criticize any politicians out of step with them — regardless of party affiliation. Walker noted that Republicans enjoy a large majority in state government but said “you wouldn’t know it” given their resistance to some conservative ideas.
Last month, several Tea Party organizers ran, unsuccessfully, for leadership posts in the Park County Republican Party.
While specific concerns varied from speaker to speaker, attendees were more generally drawn together by a conviction that government has become too large and, as Garland area resident Jim Woodie put it, “things are not going the way they should.”
“We don’t like what we’re seeing,” said Mike McKay of Powell, who was attending his third consecutive rally.
“Everything they’re doing now is just more and more government,” McKay said, specifically citing the number of new federal employees added under President Barack Obama’s watch.
“Everybody can’t work for the government,” McKay said.
Woodie purchased a $5 bumper sticker supporting a Donald Trump run for president in 2012.
“We need somebody other than a politician in charge,” he said.
“The message for 2012 is, ‘Obama, you’re fired’,” said Stu Alan, a Cody resident who was circulating a petition encouraging Trump to run and hawking bumper stickers to raise money for a Trump campaign in Wyoming.
While decrying the direction of America’s political system, those gathered expressed faith that more involvement from citizens like themselves can solve problems they see.
Walker encouraged attendees to be brave, get informed and speak up.
“If you don’t like how they (your representatives) vote, then make them defend their vote,” said Walker.
Attendance — which hit upwards of 200 citizens at its peak — was down from prior years. Kellett said the turnout was not as as high as organizers had hoped. He said shifting the time from noon to the early evening and the bad weather — cold and extremely windy — may have been factors.
Kellett said people were still upset with government.
“We’ll do it again next year,” he said.