BOISE, Idaho — Self-described patriots took advantage of a weekend “Self Reliance” rally in northern Idaho to urge like-minded thinkers to prepare for what they believe will be an inevitable collapse of the U.S. economy by stocking up on ammunition and other necessary supplies.
The event Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Farragut State Park on the shores of Pend Oreille Lake included tea party-backed Republican speakers such as Idaho Rep. Vito Barbieri of Dalton Gardens, as well as Washington state representative Matt Shea, a Republican from Spokane Valley.
Shea told the crowd he knows the collapse is going to happen and that Americans need to prepare for the inevitable. Such a scenario isn’t a crisis, Shea said, it’s an opportunity.
“You know it’s going to happen,” he said. “That’s right, I am a politician and I am standing up here and saying that.”
Dale Pearce, who leads a local group of anti-communists in the John Birch Society, blamed moderate Idaho Republicans for blocking efforts to help restore a constitutional system of government.
“Liberty once lost is lost forever,” said Pearce, a former Idaho legislator who lamented his state, so far, isn’t among those that have formally called for a convention to rewrite the U.S. Constitution to add things like requiring a balanced budget, giving the president line-item veto authority and clarifying equal rights protection.
The rally, organized by the Oath Keepers group that promotes adherence to its interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, also included several survival experts giving demonstrations on a variety of things ranging from field midwife training to hand-to-hand combat
It was set against a lakefront backdrop where vendors sold freeze-dried food, ammunition and first-aid supplies meant for people seeking to bolster their stores just in case they need them. Also on the agenda, to keep the younger members of the crowd busy: Historical-document reciting contests for kids.
Don Bradway, of the Oath Keepers, was optimistic this event will become an annual staple for so-called constitutionalists and patriots. More than 500 people attended Friday’s event, organizers said.
“Our intention is to do this again,” Bradway said. “Hopefully for multiple years to come.”