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Constitution key for local Tea Party members, Republicans

Bill Whittle speaks at the 2013 convention of 7th Congressional District Republicans Saturday in Bemidji. The event raised $1,200 for the Northern Minnesota Tea Party Patriots. Justin Glawe | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI - Bill Whittle, in his online role as “virtual president,” impressed Barb Chervestad enough for the member of the Northern Minnesota Tea Party Patriots to invite him to Bemidji.

Whittle did not disappoint.

His speech Saturday to about 100 at the 2013 convention of Republicans from the 7th Congressional District ended with Whittle playing commander-in-chief at a mock press conference; members of the audience played the press corps. The act of political theater, and the address that preceded it, were filled with a simple yet powerful mantra: less government means more freedom.

If the head nods of those in a conference room at the Sanford Center were any indication, they seemed to agree with the libertarian sentiment.

“Their entire philosophy is going to burn to ashes in front of our eyes,” Whittle said of the Democratic Party platform. “And someone’s going to have to be there to pick up the pieces. Somebody’s going to have to be there to remember what money is worth. What hard work is worth. And what businesses are worth and what trade is worth, and what decency and civility and honor and integrity are worth. Those things are going to be prized commodities in the years to come.”

An annual gathering of Republicans from the district, the event was newly minted with a tea party slant for 2013, according to Chervestad.

“This is the first year I can remember that it’s had a focus on the tea party,” she said.

As Whittle spoke, buckets were passed among members of the audience and, in charitable fashion, $1,200 was raised for the Northern Minnesota Tea Party Patriots.

The ideas professed by Whittle aren’t new. In fact, their genesis lies in a document 226 years old.  

“Conservatives revere the Constitution,” Whittle said. “We have a religious reverence to the Constitution.”

And if it isn’t covered by the document, well, “it’s not important,” Whittle told the audience.

The Constitution, private enterprise and self-education are all incredibly important to Whittle, as made evident by his remarks Saturday. If shades of gray do exist in solving America’s problems, they may not be easily found. Well before one member of the audience made known his belief that President Barack Obama is a Marxist, Whittle addressed the lack of those intermediary tones -- there is only black, white and red.

“I don’t hate Obama because he’s black,” Whittle said, fighting back against charges of racism among members of the tea party levied by many on the left. “I hate him because he’s red. He’s a Communist.”

Whittle played to a room of like-minded individuals, concerned with the purchase of a massive amount of ammunition by the Department of Homeland Security, the effects of the Affordable Care Act on religious institutions, what was mentioned as a creeping influence of the United Nations and what was viewed as a media and pop culture skewed to favor liberalism. But despite having an audience with little offered aloud in the form of difference of opinion, Whittle asserted the importance of individual thought.

“I’m for people living a life free from other people’s coercion of any form,” he said.

Justin Glawe
Reporting on crime, courts and Beltrami county government. Follow me on Twitter @JustinGlawe.
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