An angry crowd stormed downtown Franklin on tax day last week, protesting the federal government’s bailouts, high taxes and pork barrel spending.
The Tea Party protest was one of hundreds that took place across the nation April 15, the first tax day since President Barack Obama has been in office. The demonstrations have been touted as non-partisan, but the Franklin protest had a Republican bent with speakers and sign- wavers denouncing Obama and government-funded bailouts.
Signs waved by the shouting throng stated, “Freedom Works, Bailouts Hurt,” “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Debt,” TEA — Taxes Enslaving Americans,” and one that was a direct attack on Obama’s presidential campaign said, “So How’s That Hope and Change Working Out For You.”
Another sign stated, “We Are Proud of America Mr. Obama, Why Aren’t You?” while another said, “Bailouts + Debt = Fiscal Child Abuse.”
The event featured patriotic singing, with members of the audience singing along and one audience member was waving a Bible in the air.
Approximately 400 attended the rally put on by Freedom Works, a local political organization. The organization’s leader, Don Swanson, urged the crowd to push for change by writing letters to the editor.
“Do not leave this place and do nothing,” Swanson pleaded. “We’ve done that long enough.”
Staunch conservative and Asheville City Councilman Carl Mumpower — who was the Republican nominee for Congress against Democrat Heath Shuler, D-Waynesville, in the 11th District race — quipped that he doesn’t need a teleprompter to speak like Obama.
However, Mumpower said the protest was not about political parties, but instead about freedom.
“Enough of Washington policies that make people smaller and government bigger,” Mumpower told the cheering crowd.
Mumpower denounced welfare programs that “rest on the backs of our children through borrowed dollars.”
There also should be no tolerance for people who are indifferent to the U.S. Constitution, said Mumpower.
“We’re here to fight for the lives and future of our children,” Mumpower said.
Duty is the essence of being a human being and the baby boomer generation is the first to leave its children with a smaller vision of the American Dream, he said.
He urged the crowd to believe in the Constitution, not live off the labor of others and to believe in the American Dream. Mumpower quoted Gandhi, saying when someone tries to affect change, the first thing people in power do is ignore, then they laugh, then they fight and finally they surrender.
It is not too late to bring the change to America that is needed Mumpower said. In fact, the fight has just begun, he said. The nation’s founding fathers should be the role models as they were thoughtful, courageous and persistent, he said.
He turned to the American flag on the stage and pointed to the bronze eagle.
“We have to fight for that eagle,” Mumpower said.
As the most conservative member of the Asheville City Council, Mumpower voted against hiring new police officers for the city because they wouldn’t be allowed to enforce immigration laws.
Franklin businessman Phil Drake, who owns Drake Software and is the second largest employer in the county with 500 employees, spoke against the government bailing out corporations and banks.
“There is a place for government,” Drake said. “The primary role of the government should be defense.”
Drake then applauded the Navy seals for their recent rescue in the pirate standoff.
The real tax rate imposed by the government is not what is taken but what is spent because eventually that money will have to be paid back, Drake said. The money will be paid back by either raising taxes or printing more money, which will make “your money less valuable,” Drake said.
The tax code has 74,000 pages and no one understands it, Drake said, adding that the federal deficit is $11 trillion.
The problem in this country is that the government is demanding things today that it is not willing to pay for. Also, the 30 million babies killed by abortion could be alive today and contributing to Social Security, he said.
The government’s No. 1 expense is the “redistribution of wealth,” he said, adding there is only one way out of the current situation: “Stop spending.”