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Taxes and Tea

Press Photo by John Odermann Several southwestern North Dakota residents came out to protest wasteful government spending during the Tax Day Tea Party held at the Dickinson National Guard Armory Wednesday. The event was one of several hundred held throughout the country.

About 200 southwestern North Dakotans showed up to walk the sidewalks of Museum Drive Wednesday as part of the nationwide Tax Day Tea Party protests.

The event was organized as a way to protest what some would call wasteful spending by the federal government.

Those who organized and spoke at the event said it goes deeper than government spending, it is about getting back to the fundamentals of the country's founding, things like the constitution.

"The constitution means nothing to these people anymore," said Luke Simons, who lead the event. "We're Americans and we believe in the constitution."

The protests have nothing to do with party affiliation, Simons said, it's about sending a wake up call to those in power that citizens of the country will not sit by while the constitution is not followed and the country slips into what they see as the makings of socialism.

"Socialism is like five wolves and one sheep all part of socialism and they all vote on what's for supper," Simons said. "All the sheep can say is 'Naahoo.'"

Simons was quick to point out the Obama administration is not solely to blame for the current situation, it was a path several former presidents, including George W. Bush, led the country down.

"It was going down the wrong path with our last administration and actually longer than that. ... This isn't about President Obama," Simons said. "But I cannot respect somebody that swore to uphold the constitution, but then turn their back and use it for toilet paper. I cannot stomach that."

The event, which was held at the Dickinson National Guard Armory, began with those in attendance marching up and down museum drive holding signs or waving American flags.

Those gathered then entered the armory to listen to speeches from Simons and others.

One of the speakers, Jim Lowman of Belfield, said one of the biggest problems he sees is a lack of statesmen representing the people.

"It seems like we don't have statesmen, we have career politicians," Lowman said. "If you're in it for a career it's all about supporting yourself. If you're a statesmen, you go in and serve awhile and then get out and let the next person take over."

Lowman's brother, Bill, said following Wednesday's event, those in attendance needed to get active and elect representatives that will fight for the people of the state, not for further seniority.

"Who is representing our state in the national Congress? Are they representing us? Are they taking care of us? ... Our three congressmen are the biggest cheerleaders of Obama he's ever seen," Bill said. "I want a rookie in that's there representing me instead of somebody with all kinds of seniority that is doing permanent damage to me."

Simons said people need to know who they're voting for and what they stand for, not just the letter behind the name on the ballot.

"George Washington in his farewell address said, 'make sure that there is not just two political parties because it will surely be the death of us all,'" Simons said. "They're in bed together, I tell you, they are the same people."

The event will not be the last of its kind if Simons and his fellow protesters have their way. It will be the first of many until things change, Simons said.

"It's just the start until they take that right away from us too," Simons said. "What I have to say to the people is if you don't speak now, you may not be able to later."