by nathan oster
Rob DiLorenzo set the stage for Saturday’s Big Horn Basin Tea Party picnic, reminding attendees that the fundamental mission of the movement is to get voters to Take Education Action.
Guest speakers Paul Vallely, a retired Army general major and former Fox New military analyst, and Ted Nugent, rock and roll’s “Motor City Madman” and an outspoken conservative in his own right, did nothing to detract from that message.
Taking turns at the mic, they urged the Tea Party crowd estimated to be between 200 and 300 strong to fight for conservative causes and to recruit others to do so as well — not only with their voices but also in the ballot booth.
Unlike past Tea Party picnics in Emblem, when candidates for federal, state and county took turns speaking, this affair was dominated by the two speakers, each of whom spoke for 20 to 30 minutes before opening it up to questions from the audience.
Big Horn County Sheriff Ken Blackburn ended the afternoon by swearing in Vallely and Nugent, their hands raised, as honorary sheriff’s deputies.
The Big Horn Basin Tea Party invited Republican candidates for federal, state and local offices.
U.S. Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso attended, albeit toward the event of the event.
Rep. Cynthia Lummis was unable to attend, but was represented by her campaign manager.
Only one of the gubernatorial candidates attended. Cindy Hill, the current superintendent of public instruction, manned a booth and spoke with attendees. Neither incumbent Gov. Matt Mead nor challenger Taylor Haynes attended.
Also attending were Thomas Bleming, who is running against Enzi for the GOP nomination to the U.S. Senate; Clark Stith, a candidate for secretary of state; and Sheryl Lain, a candidate for state superintendent of public instruction.
Among the county candidates who attended were Michelle Burns and Kim Adams, who are vying for county attorney, as well as Joyce Collins, who is mounting a Constitution Party bid to unseat Elaine Harvey in House District 26.
What all the attendees — candidates and those who shelled out up to $40 for a ticket — heard from the two speakers was great concern about the direction of the country.
“As Americans, we’ve been taken down a road we never anticipated,” said Vallely, who chairs the Stand Up America organization. “But it’s happened so quickly, so rapidly, that in the 2014, many of us are still stunned by what is happening in Washington, D.C.”
Vallely said government has grown too large — 47 percent of the federal government could be done away with tomorrow and wouldn’t be missed, he said. He called for the elimination of the IRS and a more fair flat tax, as well as the elimination of the Federal Reserve and the “tyrannical” and “very inept” Environmental Protection Agency.
“The biggest threat to America right now is our government,” he said. “Our inability to govern, our inability to change, partisan politics and all the money. The Republican establishment is as bad as anyone. They won’t change. That’s why we have to get rid of them.”
Vallely’s strongest rhetoric concerned the president and the Democratic leaders in Congress.
“Obama should be impeached … and his national security team replaced,” he said.
He referred to the president as a “coward” who looks weak in the eyes of foreign leaders.
“(Russian President Vladimir) Putin plays hardball…we have a president who plays whiffleball,” he said.
Vallely said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would be “strung up against a wall” if he was a senator. “I’d tell him, ‘Harry, you’ve got 24 hours to change, and if you don’t, I’m going to kick the hell out of you,” said Vallely. He immediately corrected himself, saying he wouldn’t condone physical violence. But the point, the current senators need to get tough on Reid.
Nugent, sporting his trademark camouflage cowboy hat and shirt, said he performed in his 6,500th concert this year, and that during the course of those “meetings” with common folks, he’s noticed a big change in attitudes.
The Nuge, as he’s known, urged the Tea Partiers to be more vocal.
“Each of you must know 100 people you can fix,” he said.
Right now, conservatives are losing the battle, he said.
“It isn’t the enemy that’s winning, it’s not the liberal, mindless, soulless freedom haters … it’s that the good guys aren’t fighting,” he said. “The curse isn’t Obama. It’s those of us who knew he was a community organizer/scammer, and that he doesn’t have the credentials to drive my tour bus.
“He’s a bad man, he represents Communism, he represents Socialism, and his history is ripe with anti-American, anti-Constitution, anti-freedome. Yes, we elected him. But he isn’t the enemy. Your friends who didn’t vote are.”
Nugent said membership in the National Rifle Association is “the most simple statement of freedom available to Americans. To those in attendance who aren’t NRA members, Nugent said, “Nancy Pelosi likes you.”
“If you aren’t in the NRA, you aren’t a freedom fighter.”
Nugent said the left is waging war against him.
“They bus in protesters to my concerts — and most of them are so stoned and delirious they are still wearing their American Communist badges,” he said. “I called them unclean vermin … I was accurate.”
Nugent said the left-leaning national media tried to spin the story to discredit him.
“They took my statement, accurately and honestly identifying deceiving protesters paid for by the Southern Poverty Law Center, MoveOn.org and the Huffington Post, and tried saying I said that about my American Indian blood brothers.”
Nugent said there “isn’t a tribe in this country” that hasn’t invited him to their reservation.
His relationship with them dates back more than four decades.
“I am the best friend to our Native Americans,” he said.
Nugent said it’s a daily responsibility to fight for the right to keep and bear arms, that apathy is a curse plaguing the American people, and that he’s fighting for his nine children and 11 grandchildren.
“I lived the American dream, but that dream isn’t available to them,” he said. “I’m going to fight to get it back. We can take back this country, but if and only if each of you find 100 apathetic friends, and rather than talking about the weather and the drought, you need to ask them, ‘Are you an NRA member?’ And if not, shame on you.”
He concluded, “If you want to rest on your laurels, and say I’m from Wyoming, and you can’t touch me, well, you’re wrong.’ You need to communicate, and I’m not talking once a week, I’m talking every day. There’s an enemy at the door.”