Washington Park played host to one of the most politicized figures in the United States Tuesday during a political rally for an ultraconservative organization that aims to reduce the power of the federal government.
Samuel Wurtzelbacher — known across the country as Joe the Plumber — told one of the largest crowds the Tea Party of Fort Collins has seen recently that the far-reaching influence of the federal government is ruining the fundamental values of American society.
He said the American public is largely disenfranchised by the nation’s voting system and a lack of options in electing leadership.
“When you are given a bad and a worse, you don’t really have a choice,” he said in an interview after his speech.
But Wurtzelbacher was preaching to the choir.
The majority of the people in the crowd had showed up to the rally about 1 p.m. — an hour early — holding signs decrying the current American economic model.
The rally was a small piece of a larger national campaign to limit the powers of the federal government. Wurtzelbacher has been traveling across the country since nearly the beginning of the last presidential campaign trying to foster support for the initiative.
He was a visible character in John McCain’s campaign for the nation’s top office.
Locally, the TPFC has held similar events for community members, including letter-writing campaigns to politicians and sessions to create video montages of activists asking their elected representatives to strike down policies that would extend bureaucracy.
During Tuesday’s event, one man carried a sign that read, “I didn’t vote for this Obamanation.” Several participants carried the original American flag, which displays the image of a snake over the warning, “Don’t tread on me.”
Before Wurtzelbacher spoke to the crowd of cheering onlookers in the park touting his background of Christian values and down home work ethic, Leland Baker, a right wing Colorado Springs activist who supports a more direct democracy in the United States said government’s overarching power should be limited, even in the context of social issues.
Using the example of one of the most expensive and, some say, least effective of publicly funded programs, he said many people who shouldn’t have access to drugs have it regardless of the federal government’s vehement efforts to quell drug use.
“The war on drugs ain’t workin’,” he said.
In the northeast corner of the park stood the 15 people in the crowd of about 500 who opposed measures to limit government in the United States, holding signs touting health insurance reform.
Doug Holland, a CSU student who picketed with the protest dissenters, said the American people need to be more aware of the benefits of some larger government programs, like the health care initiative being pushed in the Obama administration.
“We shouldn’t live in a country where people are killing themselves because they can’t afford health care,” he said in an interview near the end of the rally.
Development Editor Aaron Hedge can be reached at email@example.com.