Aspen rally denounces Trump’s vision
Wendy Davis didn’t go on for 11 hours Wednesday in Aspen like her headline-grabbing filibuster as a Texas state senator, but she didn’t mince words in her 11-minute speech, either.
Davis, a last-minute addition to the political demonstration at Paepcke Park that was followed by a downtown march, urged the crowd of just under 100 to get to work on the 2018 midterm elections.
“I’m filled with the belief that in 2018 we’re going to do something phenomenal,” she told the crowd dominated by a retirement-age set. “In 2018 we’re going to show that in a midterm election, where people who are Democrats tend to stay home, we’re going to be coming out in full force. And we are going to show the strength of our vision and the strength of our voices at the ballot box and elsewhere. And we’re going to begin to make some incredibly important changes.”
Davis, who is on vacation in Aspen this week with her family, was lured in to speak by Blanca O’Leary, a fellow Texan who lives in Aspen and once headed the Pitkin County Democratic Party. Davis joined speakers including Aspen pediatrician Dr. Bill Mitchell, former Aspen Mayor John Bennett, Pitkin County Commissioner Rachel Richards and Sloan Shoemaker, executive director of the conservation watchdog Wilderness Workshop, which is based in Carbondale.
The theme among the speakers was common: President Donald Trump’s divide-and-conquer vision for America is sullying its reputation, stripping away basic human rights, tarnishing the environment and possibly leading it to war with North Korea.
Some demonstrators hoisted signs signifying all they deplore about the president. Others, like Joyce Jenkins, who recently moved from Boulder to Glenwood Springs, heard about the weekday demonstration and felt compelled to attend.
“I probably disagree with about 95 percent” of Trump’s agenda, she said. “Just name a topic, and I’m on the other side.”
Not all attending were against Trump. One person, a millennial-aged man who declined to give his name because he said the president’s foes are vindictive and unwilling to listen to differing political views, said he doesn’t agree with everything Trump does. But he said he’s encouraged that someone in the Oval Office is “draining the swamp.”
“He’s giving power back to the people,” the man said.
The speeches and demonstration were chiefly organized by Missouri Heights resident Linda Lafferty, an author and former Aspen educator who said she was moved to march after learning that Thomas Barrack Jr., one of Trump’s fundraisers and advocates, is speaking at 5:30 p.m. tonight at Paepcke Auditorium as part of the McCloskey Speaker Series. James Reiss, CEO of Reiss Cos., will interview Barrack in a session titled “Insights into President Trump’s Vision for the Nation.”
Lafferty called Barrack a “cheerleader for Trump” before firing off blistering remarks about the president.
“I think we all have a pretty clear idea now of what Trump’s vision is,” she said. “His vision is destroying America’s reputation throughout the world, trampling people’s rights, dismantling any hope for universal health care, punishing schools by decreasing their funding, encouraging racism and promoting hate, and possibly plunging us into war.”
Richards and Davis emphasized women’s rights, while Shoemaker lit into Trump — “I’m pissed,” he said — for his environmental agenda. Richards also likened Trump’s vision for America to that of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mitchell, meanwhile, argued that Trump’s health care agenda is rife with problems while the president is set on bolstering the military.
Davis, who gained a nationwide following in June 2013 after she filibustered 11 hours in an attempt to derail a bill intended to making abortions more difficult in the Lone Star State, said the November election results hurt.
“I was a surrogate for Hillary Clinton and I believed in her very strongly,” said Davis, who was in the Texas Senate from 2009 and 2015 and lost the 2014 gubernatorial election to Republican Greg Abbott.
However, she said events like the Wednesday march help buoy her optimism for the future.
“For any one of us who questions where we have the power to make a difference, just remember that your voice added to the next one and the next one and the next is the only thing that’s actually going to be able to effectuate change in this country,” Davis said. “When we come together, we are going to create a vision for the country we again want to see because that vision rests in each and every one of us.”
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The Wheeler Opera House will remain dark into 2021, with current COVID-19 public health orders in place. Meanwhile, the masonry work on the exterior of the building will continue into July.