Media commentator and lightning rod Glenn Beck delivered a sermon of love and service Saturday night at the Midwest tea party convention, with attacks on President Obama and liberals tucked inside.
"American people are good," said Beck. "That's why America will be great again. I sense a hunger in America, a hunger for any reason to come together and be good together again."
The other side -- from President Obama to those "sitting in" at Wall Street to radical Islamists -- is spewing hate and destruction, he said.
"Declaring a war on wealth does not make you a warrior for the middle class," he said of Obama. "It makes you, sir, a Marxist."
It's the other side that declared a religious war, a race war and a class war, he said.
His comments on how to win a war were well received.
"War is about chaos, killing and destruction," he said. "We looked for a compassionate way to fight war. The compassionate way is to end it as quickly as you possibly can -- snuff them out. War is about killing, destruction and chaos. To win you have to do those things faster than the other side."
Beck received at least two standing ovations during the evening, and his message struck home with suburban tea party supporters, who said they want limited government, think the U.S. is becoming a socialist state that is taking away freedoms, and are concerned about the federal deficit and spending.
Pat Armstrong of Villa Park said she came to TeaCon because "it's wonderful to be around people who are aware of what's going on. Illinois is so apathetic. I've knocked on doors, and people don't care. I don't want my grandchildren to be slaves. Each of them is already in debt $182,000. What kind of life will they have?"
She is treasurer of the West Suburban Patriots, which she described as a tea party group.
Jean Tucker of Roselle, who often attends events of the Palatine Tea Party, said the party is not a front for the Republican Party and has members who are independents as well as conservative Democrats.
"The media portrays us in a negative light, but we're mainstream, just concerned average Americans, middle class," said Tucker, a management consultant.
"Everybody you talk to here believes that government has overstepped boundaries" in areas such as too much regulation of commerce, taxation, spending -- especially with the stimulus bills, and bailouts of banks and companies.
"We seem to be trending away from personal responsibility in this country; the fundamental belief that if you work hard and are successful you should be able to reap rewards of your efforts, and it should not be redistributed," said Tucker.
Bryan Bernicky of Plainfield, who is director of information technology for a property management company, is not a member of any tea party group. He came with his very enthusiastic 15-year-old son, Brandon.
"I love America, and I want to be living in the country everyone of the generations before me has," said Brandon, "the land of the free and the home of the brave."
John Wallis of Chicago, who is retired as a teacher at Campanelli School in Schaumburg, came to find a tea party group he could join.
"The United States is at a real crisis point, the greatest since the Civil War. The next election is probably going to determine what direction America is going to go, whether we will be more of a socialist country or get back to our Founding Fathers' principles of freedom and personal responsibility."
Claire Van Horn of Darien, founder of the DuPage County Tea Party, said many of her members could not afford to come, and she couldn't afford the $100 ticket for the dinner.
Rick Brodine of St. Charles, who is a retired sales director for Brunswick Corp., said the Obama administration is "socializing the country step by step," as well as creating unsustainable debt and spending.
His wife, Linda, who was a United Way director, said Americans are very charitable. "What is insinuated now is that we're not charitable enough and government has to take on the role."
She said the stimulus packages are "money laundering," where the funds are given to political cronies, referring to the recent controversy over a politically connected solar panel firm that got more than $500 million in government grants but later went bankrupt.
Randi Dominick of Arlington Heights, who works for a periodontist, believes the health care bill will restrict choice. "I'm trying to stay aware and more active," she said. It is unconstitutional to mandate that people have to have insurance, she said.