Hill pumps up tea party rally at Capitol
By James Chilton
CHEYENNE -- A large crowd gathered at the Wyoming State Capitol on Saturday afternoon to send a message of support to the conservative tea party movement.
The event's organizer, Laramie County Commissioner M. Lee Hasenauer, estimated the initial crowd at 300 people, who cheered on nearly a dozen speakers.
"Everybody thinks the tea party's over," Hasenauer said. "Everyone say it with me: The tea party is alive and well."
Each speaker urged the crowd to unite against what they saw as tyranny manifested in a wide variety of forms, from implementation of the Affordable Care Act to Common Core educational standards to attempts at curbing gun ownership rights.
But that tyranny, many speakers noted, was not solely the domain of the Democratic leadership in Washington, D.C. n though President Barack Obama was hardly exempt from Saturday’s excoriations.
Rather, some of the most pointed criticism was leveled at members of Wyoming’s Republican establishment, with state Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill leading the clarion call for change in the Capitol.
After singing along to a recording of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA,” Hill, who is running for fellow Republican Gov. Matt Mead’s seat in 2014, said Americans had had enough of corruption and petty partisan politics in their government, adding that there were only a few elected officials who had the “moral clarity to see through” that.
“They are facing head-on some of the most vile and contemptible attacks n you’ve seen them and you’ve heard them n from the establishment, from career politicians from within their own party,” Hill said, turning to her own battle against Mead and the Wyoming Legislature, which stripped her of most of her duties earlier this year.
“I know about it,” Hill said. “But I make a personal pledge to you: The establishment may try to destroy or marginalize me. They try in vain.”
And while she was deeply concerned with what she called the “federalization” of education in Wyoming through measures like the Common Core, Hill said politicians in Washington weren’t the only ones pushing for such measures.
“It’s not just in D.C., everyone, it’s right here in our backyard,” Hill said to applause.
“Men and women (are) using government not for the good of the people, but using the machinery of the state government not only to destroy political opponents … but to take away your vote, and to make our state government less and less accessible and accountable to the people.”
“They don’t like it when I talk about state government, but I’m not going to stop,” she added. “We have to remind those in power of those first seven words (of the state Constitution): ‘All power is inherent in the people!’”
Saturday’s rally was also attended by Wyoming Constitution Party Chairwoman Jennifer Young, who had led an unsuccessful petition drive to reverse the legislation that stripped Hill of most of her duties. Noting that she had “big news” for the crowd, Hasenauer turned the podium over to Young who announced her intention to run against Republican Secretary of State Max Maxfield.
“As many of you are tired of hearing about what the problem is and not much about a solution until Ms. Hill came along, I have committed to doing something to be part of the solution,” Young said. “Once I finish holding Max Maxfield accountable for the flaws in the petition process, I’m going for his job.”
Local conservative radio host John Frentheway followed Young’s announcement by paraphrasing Winston Churchill’s call for “Victory at all costs … for without victory, there is no survival,” and urging more tea party members to spread their message and take their fight to the ballot box.
“I hate to say it, but it’s true: we’ve got two years to turn the tide, folks,” Frentheway said. “And if we don’t have it turned in two years, I don’t know what to tell you except you’d better be sure you’ve got a good relationship with God.”