A crowd of several hundred tea partiers braved a soggy Saturday morning in Washington, D.C. to hear talk show host Glenn Beck, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and others at the “Fix Up DC” Day of Service rally on Capitol Hill, co-sponsored by FreedomWorks and Tea Party Patriots.
Attendees were asked by organizers to bring their “rakes, gloves, and trash bags” to pick up trash that has gone uncollected on the Mall since the government shutdown began on October 1.
The rally was symbolic of the American people working for their country from the bottom up in their communities rather than from the top down to make things work, FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe said.
Attendees came from as far away as Washington state and Florida. Reps. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and Steve King (R-Iowa), who have been big names in the fight against Obamacare also attended but did not speak.
“I’m here because I think it’s an honor to be here at the Mall and to serve our country,” Beck told Red Alert Politics in an exclusive comment. “Beyond that I think that Republicans are on the verge of implosion because they have given up on all of their principles and values except for a few.”
Beck had particularly tough language during his earlier speech for Senate Minority Whip Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). The senator battled with FreedomWorks recently, accusing the group of engaging in “Republican on Republican violence … to raise money.”
“We have a virtual one-party system,” Beck said during his earlier speech at the rally, holding up Cornyn’s cooperation with Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada) to pass a bill paying death benefits to families of fallen military service members as an example of his point.
“Harry Reid named it the ‘John Cornyn bill,’” Beck continued. “Since when do Harry Reid and the Democrats give credit for something that important to a Republican when it’s a one-party system. They’re gaming the system, but it’s all coming undone.”
House Democrats pushed to force a vote on a Senate-passed bill to reopen the government without concessions to Republican demands on Obamacare at the same time the tea partiers were holding their rally. Several Republican House members in attendance left the rally to cast their votes.
“We’ve got to change our system of laws and give the government back to you the people who own it,” Lee said. “At the end of the day we see that nothing has really changed in the last couple of centuries – at least in the sense that we were subject to a large, distant national government.
“One that taxes us too much. One that regulates us oppressively. One that operates so far from the people that it’s slow to respond to their needs.”
Lee joked that the framers of the Constitution had given Congress many powers including the power to back state-sanctioned piracy on the high seas, but regulating health care was not among those powers. The senator described the closure of open-air monuments and memorials such as those on the Mall during the government shutdown as “political warfare.”
“One of these days … I’m going to be a pirate and get all of you to join me,” Lee said.