Attendees held signs with slogans like “Tax and spend, tax and spend, all of it has got to end!” and “Socialism is un-American.”
Bloomington resident Naomi Knirk joined the Tea Party movement about two years ago to protest government spending and was one of the approximately 60 rally attendees.
“We came to see if we can make things better,” Knirk said, criticizing Obama’s presidential performance. “After that man was elected, he did nothing right.”
Bloomington Tea Party leaders Spencer Leiter and Doug Barker and IU College Republicans President and IDS columnist Connor Caudill used the City Hall steps as an improvised stage to speak to the Tea Partiers, thanking them for their attendance.
Leiter encouraged the crowd to voice their opinions, citing the Tea Party’s rise to national attention.
“You’ve made a difference in two years,” Leiter said. “The Tea Party’s in the news every day.”
Barker encouraged the attendees to protest government spending.
“We need to hold the current politicians’ feet to the fire and support the ones who are making progress,” Barker said.
The rally didn’t go uninterrupted for long. Young Democratic Socialists counter-protested the rally, holding signs saying “Socialists care about everyone (Even you!).”
YDS protestors began chanting “Stop wars, tax the rich,” while Leiter, Barker and Caudill spoke. One passerby seemed vehemently opposed to the Tea Party, telling ralliers they “didn’t have a leg to stand on.”
The man eventually made his way onto the makeshift stage, arguing with a Tea Party supporter during Caudill’s speech.
“It’s a blessing when we can come and meet peacefully with our opposition,” Caudill said, trying to continue his speech despite the onstage argument.
YDS co-chair Amber Frost said the group came to show the public the Tea Party isn’t the only government spending-centered group.
“I think the best way to deal with them is to mock them,” Frost said. “We’ve tried deregulation. And look what happened — we had a financial meltdown.”
Caudill was careful to lay blame on both the Bush and Obama administrations for increased government spending.
“This isn’t exclusive for Republicans or Democrats,” Caudill said. “We’re all to blame, quite frankly.”
Leiter took the stage again to address the opposition and used a bounced check analogy.
“If someone writes you a check and you go to the bank to cash it, do you get mad at the teller or the person who told you the money would be there?” Leiter asked the passerby onstage.
As Tea Partiers and protestors continued arguing, Leiter asked the counter-protestors to stop intruding.
“The money’s not in the account, Leiter said. “Don’t get mad at me. If you want to give speeches, form your own rally.”
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