COEUR d'ALENE - If a natural disaster were to strike or the economy were to collapse, would you be prepared to survive?
John Mackey might. He is one of the organizers of the Northwest Patriot and Preparedness Rally that will take place over three days in Farragut State Park next weekend.
The event begins Friday from noon to 4 p.m. with a series of educational presentations on how to prepare "bug-out" bags, which are bags of survival supplies in case you have to leave in a hurry. There are classes on how to operate a HAM radio system, or how to start a fire. You can even learn to make your own colloidal silver.
There is a 45-minute lecture on Operation Sleeping Giant, which is an Oathkeeper's preparedness strategy for when disaster strikes and there is an interruption in the convenience services.
Mackey, who is an Oathkeeper himself, said Operation Sleeping Giant is the underpinning of the event.
"It's a four-part strategy to become more self reliant," he said. "In the event of a natural disaster or economic collapse, we believe communities should be self-reliant rather than looking to the government for help."
The first part is about being prepared, the second part is security and getting to know your neighbors.
"It's things like forming a neighborhood block watch and connecting with groups like the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion and the Vietnam Vets," he said.
The third thing is how to re-build the free market system our country was founded on, Mackey said.
"So many people depend on Wal-Mart to be there every day," he said. "We believe in local commerce, such as farmers markets and stuff like that."
He said many of the events will attract doomsday preppers, tea party types, constitutionalists, sustainers and more.
It's the fourth prong of Operation Sleeping Giant that gets a little more controversial.
The fourth is policy related, or you could just call it politics, Mackey said.
"We want to make sure that in the event of disaster, the First, Second, Fourth and 10th amendments remain intact." he said. "Don't get me wrong, it's not like we are downplaying other amendments, but these are the ones that are most subject to discussion in law making.
"We want to able to politically preserve them as best we can."
He said it really boils down to politically keeping the decision making at the lowest level possible, and creating communities that protect themselves.
Mackey points to a recent HBO television special on John Adams, where in the very first scene Adams hears an alarm, so he grabs his bucket and starts running down the street to form a bucket brigade to fight a fire.
"People today rely on the fire department and don't even pay attention to an alarm when they hear it," he said. "We prefer to know how to work at the lowest level possible instead of federalizing everything."
He said the Constitution would never have been approved if the Founding Fathers knew that federal government would be making all the decisions.
The event is designed to have educational seminars during the day, and they plan to hold the controversial political rallies in the evening.
Some of the planned speakers include state Reps. Steve Vick and Vito Barbieri. Former state Rep. Phil Hart, who is currently caught up in a bankruptcy and legal battle with the Internal Revenue Service, is speaking on "Sound Money, What a Concept."
They will also have the founder of the Oathkeepers speaking, someone from the John Birch Society, and Kris Anne Hall will speak on the genealogy of the Constitution.
"We had to figure out a way to combine the patriot movement with the preparedness," Mackey said. "We will also have bluegrass music along with speakers in the evening."
He said no alcohol will be sold and it's not being encouraged either. The organizers are hoping to create a family-friendly environment.
Mackey understands that some may consider the event just a bunch of extremists getting together in the woods, but he added that isn't much different than prior generations who painted the hippie movement with a broad brush back in the '60s..
"We are closely associated with the Tea Party, so we get some of that," he said. "But if you go in and sit down and talk to people, you'll find that most of them are just concerned about the future of our country."
The Northwest Patriots and Preparedness Rally sprung up from the Second Amendment rally the group held in front of Black Sheep earlier this year. More information can be found on the rally under its name on Facebook.