Dressed in layers, hats and gloves, about 200 people gathered in Esther Short Park on Monday to protest President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration for border wall funding.
“Lock him up,” “Emergency, Fake,” and ”Hey Hey Donald J, what emergency did you invent today?” were just a few of the chants cried out by participants during the protest organized by MoveOn Clark County.
Protesters said they were concerned with the validity of Trump’s declaration and expressed much of their frustration through song. “This Land is Your Land” and “We Shall Not Be Moved” opened the protest.
But the real draw was former 3rd Congressional District candidate Carolyn Long, a political science professor at Washington State University Vancouver.
Long said the declaration was so shocking that she felt she needed to use the opportunity to work with MoveOn, the progressive activist group, and call attention to the issue.
“It woke me up yet again,” Long said.
The event was her first foray back into the public spotlight since losing the 2018 election to Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground.
“It was a short retirement,” Long said.
She spoke to the crowd about the growing power of the presidency and the danger that power poses to democracy.
“It’s not just the president who has done this power grab, but it is actual leaders in Congress as well as members who have allowed it to happen,” Long said.
Last week, Herrera Beutler said she doesn’t support Trump’s decision to move forward with a national emergency.
“If President Obama had ever hinted at using emergency powers in this way, I would have spoken out strongly against it, and consistency demands that I do the same now,” she said.
Long said it’s important that the community uses its voice to speak out and express its concerns.
“One of the things that’s so concerning about what’s happening right now is, we have a president who is invoking a national emergency because his feelings were hurt,” she said.
“I think it’s very important that we remind everybody that this is a vanity project for the president and he supports it by lies, by misrepresenting facts and by manufacturing a crisis while he golfs at Mar-a-Lago.”
Judy Bumbarger-Enright, co-chair of MoveOn Vancouver, said the president is grossly overreaching “to push his racist, dangerous policies including bullying Congress and the American people into accepting the racist and unpopular wall.”
Clark County Republican Party Chair Earl Bowerman said he absolutely supports the president’s decision.
“I think that he’s doing what has to be done if he is serious about setting up some type of border security, and everyone knows whether they admit it or not that border walls work,” Bowerman said. “If we’re going to be a sovereign nation, that’s what we should do.”
He added that reappropriating funding is common and that especially when the president is looking to pull from the military budget, the border wall funding is just a drop in the bucket.
“We really have to make a decision: Are we going to follow the federal laws or not?” Bowerman said.
Before the rally concluded with a few more chants and a quick march around Esther Short Park, Long closed her speech with a quote from former President Abraham Lincoln.
“If given the truth, (the people) can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.”