Activists rally for liberty, justice & free enterprise in St. Petersburg
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01/23/12 Andrea Lypka
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About 150 people, including religious leaders and Tea Party activists rallied on January 21st in St. Petersburg's North Straub Park.


photo by Andrea Lypka

Next Tuesday is the Presidential preference primary in Florida and candidates will be making their case to conservative voters. About 150 people, including religious leaders and Tea Party activists rallied on January 21st in St. Petersburg's North Straub Park.

Resident Sharon Grant says she thinks the country is going in the wrong direction. Wearing a red, white and blue colored shirt, Grant attended the Liberty & Justice for All: A Rally for America's Future.

“I think that it is extremely important for me to do what I can to educate myself to protect my children and especially my grand-children. I think this election is probably the most important in our life. I have to make a wise decision, that's why I am trying to educate myself,” Grant said.

Kevin Thornhill also attended the rally. He has lived in Pinellas County for more than two decades and is active in local Tea Party organizations.

“We are losing our freedoms; the constitution is being destroyed by the president. He might be a nice guy, a hip guy and everything else but he is not working for all of us, he is working for his electorate which would be the unions and the others. We need to get our education system straightened out in this country and we need to restore our freedoms in this country. We need to get government out of our checkbooks, our pockets and our homes,” he said.

Daryn Iwicki director of Education and Training at Americans for Prosperity spoke at the rally.

“The scary thing is, folks, is United States for years has always ranked very high in economic freedom compared to the rest of the world. The scary thing is, is that we have been in a continual decline over the last 10 years. We used to be third in the nation. Our current ranking now, according to the Fraser Institute is 10."

Iwicki said the current government spends too much.

“Both sides of the aisle need to come together and realize that spending is the problem. Even if you wanted to raise taxes, the revenue generated as a percentage of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) historically is about 18%. We spend on average historically 20 to 21 percent of our GDP. Now you do the math, that doesn't make sense. If you were to balance your check book that way, we would all be poor,” he said.

But while estimates and statistics on the government's spending increase differ, the downgrade from Standard & Poor's is real.

“By 2021, they are projecting that we will spend about 20-26% of our GDP while the average revenue will stay roughly at around 20%,” Iwickie said.

Another speaker was retired Army veteran and Sarasota talk-show host Dr. Richard Swier. He says voters should look back to the founders of this nation.

“Men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams withstood the test of time,” he said. “Many times we look at short term loads of a singer, a dancer, a movie star, a politician even and we forget that they always fail in the short term. And there is a reason they fail. And that's because they don't embrace the religion and the beliefs our founding fathers did.”

St. Petersburg neurosurgeon and conservative political activist David McKalip organized the rally.

“We want to offer positive message to Americans about liberty and justice,” McKalip said.” We want to tell them where we came from in this country, where we have individual liberty, where free markets prevail. Not the caricature of free markets we often hear about but true free markets. We want to hear about equal justice where we have the rule of law, not the arbitrary whim with the rule of men. We also want to spread a message about God. God has an expectation about mankind and it is higher than any government can lay out for us.”

McKalip said America is at crossroads. Voters will decide the faith of this country.

“We have two different ways we can go. In my view, we can go down on the road that involves the government controlling us more or we can go down the road where people control their lives more. And there is a clear choice. We are here to offer one clear pathway that Americans should embrace, and if they do embrace it, we believe we will have peace and prosperity in America.

Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum had informational booths at the rally.

Photo gallery of the event

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