350 7th Street North, Naples, FL
NAPLES — The Naples Tea Party organization held a candlelight vigil Sunday evening where more than 100 people rallied next to the NCH Downtown Naples Hospital to protest proposed federal health-care legislation.
The clear night had turned chilly, and a brisk breeze blew from the north. Keeping a candle lit proved difficult. A couple of participants had their candles in glass shields, and one woman solved the problem with a battery-powered candle.
Protesters held up signs saying “OBAMACARE IS OBAMASCARE,” “Hands Off My Healthcare,” and “Government Run Health Care Makes Me Sick.” Anne Brown of Naples held a hand-lettered sign reading “HOPE? NOPE!!” as well as a candle and a flashlight. Some passing cars honked as they drove by.
Asked what brought her out, Ruth Putnam of Marco Island said, “I’m with GOOOH — Get Out of Our House. We want to get all career politicians out.”
Speaking through a bullhorn, organizer Barry Willoughby addressed the crowd.
“Tonight, I have bad news,” he said. “We are announcing the imminent death of American health-care.” He introduced Jamie Cain, who read what she called an obituary she had written.
“American health-care has been given her death sentence. She will die of a disease called socialized medicine, better known as “Obamacare,” she said.
Cain eulogized American health-care, which, she said, “has provided her citizens and the citizens of all nations with comfort and healing throughout generations.
“Now we citizens are told they will install panels to decide what treatment we will decide,” said Cain. “If we are not of prime age or perfect health, we will be given over to death panels whose job it will be to provide us with counseling to end our lives.”
Concluding the program, Willoughby exhorted the crowd through the bullhorn to “fight for liberty,” and the group sang God Bless America.
“Revolution — that’s what we need,” said one man.
“Civil war!” called out Cathy Sorbello.
“I think you meant that as a figure of speech,” said Bobbie Dusek, standing next to her.
The youngest Tea Party member in evidence was 10-year-old Luke Montgomery. He came with his parents, who also brought along Mako the poodle.
“We want to stop Obamacare,” he said. “It’s so people can stop abortion.”
“We just don’t think government is the answer,” added Jay Montgomery, Luke’s father.
“This is part of a national effort,” said Willoughby. “We’ll be holding these vigils and other events until the health-care issue is decided.”
Willoughby believes the health-care proposals put forth by the Democratic majority in Washington, D.C., will be bad for the country.
“Our aim is to bring awareness to the ramifications of the massive 2,000-plus page health-care bill,” he said. “Massive changes are going to happen in America if that happens. We’ll see rationing, massive government spending, and a massive debt increase to a basically bankrupt government.”
It doesn’t make sense, said Willoughby, to implement major changes to help “the 20 or 30 million who are without insurance. It’s mostly about insurance. We need to fix health insurance, and this bill doesn’t do anything to address that,” he claimed. “We want to keep it in the free enterprise system.”
More Tea Party events are scheduled for Wednesday, March 10. At noon, adherents plan to rally outside Sen. Bill Nelson’s Fort Myers office. That evening, they will hold a vigil in front of Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers.
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E-mail Lance Shearer at email@example.com