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Tea Party calls for less government, people's rights

Rep. Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, talks about personal responsibility and limited government as Saturday night's headline speaker to the Bemidji Tax Tea Party. Seifert will announce his bid for governor this week, and will bring his campaign to Bemidji again on Wednesday. Pioneer Photo/Brad Swenson

"Vox Populorum Est Vox Dei," the Latin inscription above the State Capitol's House chamber, means "The voice of the people is the voice of God."

Former House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, referred to that inscription Saturday night, saying politicians now consider themselves bosses and the people their servants.

"It's too bad that a lot of our elected officials today can't read Latin or understand it," Seiftert said. It would be a little more important if they could read that sentence and understand that the voice of the people is the voice of God, brought through their elected representatives to reflect the reality of what the United States stands for."

Seifert spoke to about 250 people at the Bemidji Tea Party "Freedom Over Socialism" rally on the Beltrami County Courthouse lawn. A half-dozen speakers spoke for 90 minutes on renewing the covenant with the founding fathers, the price paid for liberty, federal power is on the march, a call to action and a fight for freedom.

A demonstration with flags and signs along Bemidji Avenue was held prior to the rally, and after, tea was served and everyone given a pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution.

People want health care, but Seifert cited a proposal that would fine people $1,000 if they don't purchase health care. "So we're telling homeless people that there's going to be a $1,000 fine for not buying health insurance? It doesn't make common sense. It doesn't follow the Constitution."

He called cap-and-trade legislation, where polluters could buy credits from lesser polluters of carbon to control greenhouse gas emissions, "taking away freedom and increasing your energy bills. Tax increases, more regulation."

Government is "taking away your rights, day by day, hour by hour, piece of legislation by piece of legislation," said Seifert, who this week will announce his Republican bid for governor in 2010, bringing his campaign back to Bemidji on Wednesday night at the Hampton Inn & Suites.

Politicians of both parties "believe when they are elected to office that they are your boss and that you are their servants," Seifert said. "Now suddenly we tell you that you have to wear your seat belts or someone is gong to come racing down the road and fine you."

The founding fathers, he said, "believed that power flowed from God to the people and then was loaned by permission to the government by a representative republic. We are the servants and the people are the bosses."

Beltrami County Republican Chairman Ken Cobb, who ended the program, gave a long list of government intrusion, and after each, told the crowd, "government is too big, too powerful and too intrusive."

It includes pork in the economic stimulus bill, buyout of automakers, the power to fire corporate executives, threats of gun control, even to what kind of light bulb people can have in their homes.

Cobb blamed both Republicans for running up the federal debt, and the new Democratic administration for its $787 billion stimulus bill that will have future generations paying.

He called the symbol used by President Barack Obama's campaign, of a sun over the landscape, a socialist sun.

"I'm afraid to tell you today that Benjamin Franklin's sun of liberty is setting in America and we're seeing the rising sun pf socialism ," Cobb said. "Do we care enough to stop it and to fight for freedom?"

Mark Skogerboe, with dramatic interpretation, told the story of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, and that some were killed during the Revolutionary War, and others had their families killed and tortured.

Former Beltrami County Republican Chairwoman Kath Molitor beseeched all to think of those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the world, and for veterans.

She was impassioned over the fact that most people, when asked who died last week, will offer from Michael Jackson to Billy Mays, but none with say that four American soldiers died last week in Afghanistan.

John Carlson, last year's House 4A Republican candidate, said the Constitution came after the colonies passed the Articles of Confederation. They were good examples of limited government, but weren't carried through with the Constitution.

"The document gave so little power to the federal government, that the states were actually dangerously ungovernable," Carlson said. Under the articles, "the federal government was not trusted to conduct foreign policy on behalf of the states ... the federal government was not trusted to set tariffs to protect American manufacturers from foreign imports, the federal government was not trusted to settle land disputes on America's rapidly expanding Western border and the federal government surely wasn't trusted to directly tax the people of various states.

"I think those early Americans were onto something," Carlson added.

The final Constitution had "a few, very carefully enumerated powers were doled out by the people," he said. "Unfortunately, under this new U.S. Constitution the government started to swell up and it's been swelling ever since."

Carlson said the federal government owns land in all 50 states, including 6 percent of Minnesota and 85 percent of Nevada. "The federal government owns about half of all the lands west of Kansas," he said.

"In addition to real estate, the power of government has also swollen," Carlson said. "It's about to become morbidly obese because of cap-and-trade taxation. ... Cap and trade is the biggest tax scheme in the history of the world."

Carlson said global warming arguments are based on computer models, and do not match observational data. "Obama's pledge to collect this tax and give most of it back in energy credits sounds suspiciously like a scam for the redistribution of wealth."

Pat Beranski quoted the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who said the hottest place in hell is reserved for those who remain neutral and take no action in a time of moral crisis.

"Do not be neutral," Beranski said. "Do not sit idly by, do not let others speak for you. Silence has gotten us nowhere, so it's once again time for our collective voice to make a simple yet profound demand -- don't tread on me."