Government is too big and unresponsive, corporations have too much power and the burden of national health care legislation passed in 2010 will be borne by hardworking taxpayers who don't want it.
That was the resounding rally cry of several hundred people who gathered Saturday outside the Oklahoma Capitol to protest the U.S. Supreme Court's decision last week to uphold the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Organized by Oklahoma 10th Amendment Center and several other conservative action groups, the “Rally for Healthcare Independence” was a call to action to end perceived tyranny on the state and federal level.
“Right now the people that are in control of your government are not the politicians you elect many times but the corporations they take money from,” Toby Pedford, owner of Legacy Wealth Strategies, told the crowd gathered at the south steps of the state Capitol.
Under a parasol of gray clouds, the self-identified tea party member said the legislation's mandate that all Americans buy health insurance or face a fine is a “forced exchange” that goes against the free market.
“We have to use the word ‘tyranny' because that's what it is,” Pedford said to hoots and hollers of support and applause. “If I can come to your house or your business and tell you how much you owe me, it's a shakedown.”
Pedford and several other speakers outlined a series of steps that should be taken to make the government more responsive.
On their shortlist:
• Dissolve the Oklahoma Health Information Exchange Trust, the group responsible for implementing the federal health care legislation on the state level.
• Fight any expansion of Medicaid.
• Reintroduce legislation on the state level that nullifies the health care act in Oklahoma.
• Support the fight to repeal the legislation by affecting votes nationwide.
• Ensure President Barack Obama is a one-term president.
Interlaced with readings from the Declaration of Independence, rally speakers said the most important step that can be taken is political awareness and involvement.
Get to know your legislators, take them out to coffee and then ensure that they are responsive to you and not to lobbyists, the business roundtables or to chambers of commerce, said Jenni White, president of Restore Oklahoma Public Education.
“If they get their information from a lobbyist or from the chamber of commerce, and not from you, then who are they listening to?” White said.
“We are at a crossroads in this nation. Complacency will not steer America back on its course; only active participation can man that boat.”
Several pastors also spoke, pleading with those in attendance to replace bureaucracy and federal mandates with the original law of the land.
“There are some good people in that building behind me, but that building cannot solve our problems,” said Dan Fisher, senior pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in Yukon. “There is only one that can help us.”
Mary Lynn Hammond said she drove to the Capitol from Tulsa to support the rally because she believes the national health care legislation is misguided. Hammond said the event was meant to re-energize the state's tea party activists, recruit some new ones and to get everyone focused on the priority issues as election season arrives.
Sitting in a chair affixed with a sign that read, “Mary, we're watching you” — a reference to Gov. Mary Fallin — Hammond said responsible activism starts on the local level and spreads from there.
“The target today is health care — we don't want the government taking over our bodies,” Hammond said.
“And if it takes going to another state, we'll go to another state and help them out. If we have to go to Missouri and take Claire McCaskill out we will.”