Karin Stanton/Hawaii247.com Contributing Editor
Big Island residents joined a nationwide rally Wednesday to call attention to their dissatisfaction with the economy, government spending and bailouts, and possibility of higher taxes.
The Tax Day Tea Party, which drew ten of thousands of people to more than 600 rallies across the country, was a national collaborative grassroots effort organized by Smart Girl Politics, Top Conservatives on Twitter, the DontGo Movement and many other online groups/coalitions.
Protesters turned out in force along roadsides in Kona and Hilo, each drawing more than 100 people waving signs and flags. The vast majority of drivers were supportive, honking and waving back.
A Kona police officer arrived about 3:30 p.m., responding to a complaint that the protesters were interfering with traffic, but issued no warnings or citations.
Kona rally organizer Charlie Yielo said she was encouraged by the number of people who attended the rally and the positive response from drivers passing by.
“We are not rich people out here. These are ordinary people who are fed up with the way things are going,” she said. “We want America back. I pray this has an impact.”
Yielo said she hopes lawmakers are paying attention to what the people want.
“The answer is getting back to the original Constitution, get back to grassroots. A lot of people are losing their businesses because of the high taxes. If we are going to be taxed, we’d like to be represented and we are not.”
Glennon Gingo, 47, a Kona realtor, said while the rallies started out as a tax protest, he hopes the effort prompts people to get more involved in the political process.
“It’s an awareness issue about higher taxes,” he said. “This sends a wake up call that taxation is getting out of control.
“Taxes are a rallying point. People can relate – it’s equally unfair,” Gingo said. “It’s time for people to get out and vote. If people are willing to come out here today, then I say they should get out and vote.”
Scott Henderson, 53, a Waikoloa Village retiree and former Alaska resident, said he is most concerned that the federal government has so much control over states and private enterprise.
“I don’t see how anybody who has a job, is raising a family, is an employer can convince themselves this is a good thing,” he said. “We’re being driven into bankruptcy and we can’t service the debt.”
Henderson said power should be return to individual states.
“We’re enslaved by the federal government. What I want to see is state’s rights come up to where the framers of the country wanted them to be,” he said. “States really don’t have the power they should have. You just can’t tax people and spend the money irresponsibly.”
Henderson said he believes the American consumer is paying the price on many levels.
“We’re talking socialist control over U.S. enterprise,” he said. “The federal government has too much control over people’s money.”
Claire Eddo, a 72-year-old retiree who has lived on the Big Island 21 years, said she has serious concerns about the direction the entire country is heading.
“Our concern is for this country and the radical agenda we’ve seen on a federal level. It’s tyrannical,” she said. “We don’t have a king. That’s why we rebelled against England – the amount of taxes.
“We have the best Constitution and best country the world has ever seen and they want to destroy it and replace it with a failed system like the Soviet Union.”
While Eddo said she fears the future may be bleak, she said still has hope the Tax Day Tea Party marks the beginning of a new awareness.
“We love our country and it’s principles,” she said. “Dissatisfaction isn’t the word really. You want to do what you can do to show your distress. I hope this is a moment to wake people up.”
Kaleema Faris, 27, attended the protest with her boyfriend and his boss. She said she currently is looking for work and would have a hard time if taxes were raised.
“This the first time we’re coming out to something like this,” she said. “We don’t want taxes and all that stuff. We pay too much already.”
According to its Web site, the Tea Party protests began in early 2009 when Rick Santelli, the On Air Editor for CNBC, set out on a rant to expose the bankrupt liberal agenda of the White House Administration and Congress. Specifically, the flawed “Stimulus Bill” and pork filled budget.
Santelli called for a “Chicago Tea Party” where advocates of the free-market system could join in a protest against out of control government spending.
On Feb. 27, an estimated 30,000 Americans took to the street in at least 40 cities in the first nationwide “Tea Party” protest and organizers pledged an even bigger protest April 15 to coincide with the tax deadline.
— Find out more:
Tax Day Tea Party: taxdayteaparty.com/