The Wilmington event was just one of several rallies held throughout the state on tax day to draw attention to the amount of spending being done in Washington.
A crowd of several hundred soaked in the sunshine and enjoyed a cool breeze off the Christina River as speakers extolled conservative values at the 2nd annual Wilmington Riverfront Tea Party.
The group included plenty of tri-corner hats, women dressed in American Revolution-era garb, and plenty of signs. Some read “Can we downsize DC” or “I am not your ATM”, highlighting the economic theme of the group’s frustration with spending in Washington.
While plenty of elected officials and candidates were in attendance, organizers asked them not to campaign or hand out literature. Organizer Mike Protack, himself a candidate for New Castle County Council says the event is not about supporting candidates, but supporting ideas and issues. “I think the biggest fear is the long term trend of all the spending, the budget deficits. I don’t care where you sit in the political world, it’s a scary thing whether you’re left, right or middle.”
Another organizers John Sherman of the Founders Values group says the event is not about negativity or hate, “It’s really a patriotic rally. It’s standing for what our country was based upon, standing for freedom and liberty.”
In addition to the symbolic tossing of tea bags into the Christina River, the group also had a “pork piñata” for children to whack at, representing the “pork” in government spending.
Former Delaware Governor Pete du Pont was the event’s keynote speaker, he highlighted the similarities between Delaware’s economic woes at the time he took office in the mid-70’s to the current problems facing the country. “Instead of doing more spending and raising taxes, let’s balance the budget in Washington. I don’t know if we’re going to live long enough to see that, but that would be a very, very good thing to do.” He says the federal government needs to get out of the business of running everything, “One example is the health care bill… The government is going to run it now, and they, rather than your doctor are going to make the decisions that really matter.”
Sherman says moving forward, the groups hope to continue spreading their message of conservative values. He says his group will be evaluating candidates and currently elected officials to determine where they stand on conservative issues. “Are they promoting those issues, or are they promoting more and more government? We’ll hold candidates, regardless of party, accountable for those things.”