WEST CHESTER TWP. — Some were clad in colonial-era costumes. Some hoisted signs or waved American flags. But the thousands who filled the lawn in front of the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 5, were consistent in their passionate plea for change.
Whether it was health care reform, a country at war, education, government bailouts, the national debt or Congressional term limits, it was the issues — not politicians — that took center stage at the rally hosted by the Cincinnati Tea Party.
The crowd continued to grow throughout the afternoon, and an estimated 18,000 people had come together at the event’s peak, according to Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones.
Jones said the crowd Saturday nearly doubled that of the Tea Party’s event he witnessed in Columbus, which drew an estimated 10,000 people to the state’s capital in April.
Saturday’s rally drew people from all over the region, many to view the day’s highly anticipated town hall-style forum featuring U.S. Reps. Jean Schmidt and Michael Turner, Ohio gubernatorial candidate John Kasich and House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-West Chester Twp.
“It was college football’s opening day, and we were looking at some serious competition,” said Chris Littleton, director of the Tea Party’s Community Groups, which include West Chester and Liberty townships, Monroe and Fairfield. “These people came out to talk about their personal liberties being taken away instead. That’s crazy. It’s bizarre.
“People are engaged and (the movement) is going to continue to gather steam and momentum,” Littleton said. “People are engaged and saying, ‘I’m going to make my voice heard, I’m going to be politically active.’”
Following his town-hall segment, Boehner said he was amazed at the response from the crowd and the overall Tea Party movement.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Boehner said. “These people are saying enough is enough.
“They’re scared to death,” he added. “They’re scared that the country they grew up in is not going to be the country their children and grandchildren grow up in.”
Laura and Andy Rosenberger of Springfield were trying out their professionally made banner stating, “Obamacare no, tort reform, yes” at Saturday’s rally. Laura Rosenberger plans to take the sign to the Tea Party in Washington, D.C.
“It’s sagging in the middle, we’ll have to work on it,” she said.
Signs of the time
Other signs read “Wake up America,” “DC politicians kiss my grits,” “No tax slavery,” “Commander in thief,” “Socialism rich or poor you will hate it,” “It’s time to drain the swamps in DC,” “Stay out of my schools Obama,” “Out of control federal government back off” and “Don’t tell me what to teach on Sept. 8.”
Wendy Jenkins of Anderson, Ind., stood out among some holding a sign that read: “I am ashamed I voted for Obama.”
“I had to be honest about it,” she said.
Jenkins said she is a Libertarian who thought she was making the right decision when she voted for Obama. She no longer feels that way, citing the war and the Patriot Act as factors.
“If the government would follow the laws of the Constitution, we would be fine,” Jenkins said.
Cathy and Norm Breckel of Cincinnati held signs, one stating “Bitter voter, clinging to my wallet and doctor.”
“Our country that we know and love is being stolen from us,” Norm Breckel said. “We are not Republicans, we are anti-Democrat.”
The couple sited the “demonizing” of the U.S. troops overseas by Democrats as one reason they wanted their voices heard.
Tom Milinski, of Fairfield, was among the nearly 20 people who posed questions to Kasich, Schmidt, Turner and Boehner during the town-hall forum that capped off the afternoon event.
His question to Schmidt was whether she supported term limits. The long answer was somewhere between yes and no.
“I’m happy with her answer because it was thoughtful, but I didn’t necessarily agree with it 100 percent,” Milinski said, adding that politics “should be a service and not a career.”
Like others, Milinski said he was impressed with the turnout Saturday.
“The main thing I’m hearing here is that we have a constitution, and we need to start following it again,” he said. “It’s getting trampled.”
Other voices heard from
Less than a half-mile away at Cox and Tylersville roads, 20 demonstrators — also holding handmade signs — from another Butler County grass-roots group, Changebutler.org, advocated for health care reform.
Liberty Twp. resident and Change Butler PAC President Jocelyn Bucaro said the group wanted to make sure Butler County got to hear two voices on Saturday.
“We wanted to present a positive case for health care reform,” she said.