Anti-Tax Protest Draws Hundreds on Solomons

By Guy Leonard, County Times

SOLOMONS, Md.—Southern Marylanders from the tri-county region, Prince George’s County and even the Eastern Shore gathered on Solomons Island Sunday, March 22, to give the state and federal government a piece of their minds about what they say is out of control spending through economic stimulus packages and bailouts of failing big businesses.

Hundreds of people, mostly Republicans and fiscal conservatives, showed up with their signs protesting everything from the Obama administration’s fiscal policies to the U.S. Federal Reserve and the $218 million in recent bonuses paid out to AIG executives using federal funds with the knowledge of key government leadership.

Mary Burke-Russell, of Leonardtown, waited along with other protestors to see the ceremonial dumping of tea boxes into the Patuxent River, reminiscent of the heady days before the American Revolution that saw angry Bostonians fling tea into their own harbor rather than pay the crown’s tax.

“I don’t need the government to take care of me,” Burke-Russell, a small business owner told The County Times. “I don’t feet good about the bailouts, the bailouts are wrong.

“If I had a problem with my business nobody’s going to bail me out.”

Brooks and Judith Freegards, also of Leonardtown, said they came out for the March 22 protest because their usual attempts to get their concerns addressed had not worked.

Phone calls and letter writing to members of the U.S. Congress never seemed to get answered, they said, or if they were they could not get a straight answer about how the government was going to fix the country’s financial mess.

“Doesn’t seem like it’s done much good,” Brooks Freegard said. “You don’t get the sense that the communication is going through.”

While political speakers like Del. Anthony O’Donnell (R-29C), the state House Mi n o r i t y Leader, and Charles Loller, Chairman of the Charles County GOP Central Committee, defined the event as a mostly Republican affair with concurrent rhetoric, a local political analyst thinks they may have hit on something.

Michael Cain, professor at the Center for the Study of Democracy at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, said the Maryland GOP needed to engage in these kinds of grassroots movements to make itself competitive in a strongly Democratic state.

“I’m very much in favor of the Republicans doing this,” said Cain. “I think the Republicans in the state need to find populist issues they can talk about at the state and local and not just the national level.”

Cain said the state would benefit from a more balanced form of representation between the two parties, but he cautioned that nationally both the Democrats and the GOP, especially in the last eight years of the Bush administration, had showed a propensity to spend taxpayer dollars and expand government.

“[The tea party movement] is coming from the political right, but people in the center are worried about what budgets are looking like,” Cain said. “It’s not a Democrat or Republican issue; both parties have showed their ability to increase the deficit.

“Both parties have shown an inability to say ‘no’ to spending while in power.”

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