We are now 2/1461, or 0.14% through the Trump administration. Unlike yesterday, today was awesome. Providence had about 5000 people in a great rally. Small compared to New York, Washington, Chicago, Boston, or Los Angeles, but it’s in the smaller cities that these rallies are also really important, including great rallies by those coastal elites in Sioux Falls, Little Rock, Asheville, Columbia, Austin, Albuquerque, and Springfield, Missouri. In a lot of these places, activism is not something people see much. Shoving ourselves in the fascists’ faces is critical. In Providence, there was consistently solid to great speakers, very inspiring. Lots of great signs, including the Roger Williams quote above (misquoted because it’s in God’s nostrils, not his eyes, but whatever). That’s how we roll in Rhode Island. My other favorite group was a bunch of young medical students in their white doctor’s coats with “Future Abortion Provider” signs. Even if one spelled it “Providor.” I guess spelling isn’t really a requirement to save women from patriarchy.
I knew a ton of people at the DC rally. My wife led a group of students from her small college in a tiny rural Pennsylvania town. And this is important. That area is absolutely horrible. I was there shortly before the election and a farm right outside of town had a hand-painted sign stuck to a tree that read “Trump. Vote4Balls.” I don’t know what could sum up the Trump voter better than this. I wanted to get a picture but I was being eyed warily by the neighbor and even though I’m a square looking white guy driving a Ford, I didn’t want to get shot for the picture. And in Shithole, PA, this is a concern. These students simply don’t see people on their side except for their professors and some other students. Many of them have never even been to DC, even though it’s only a few hours away. I can only imagine how inspired they must be. My dissertation advisor was there from New Mexico, friends from Rhode Island made the trip down, former students flew from Austin, graduate student friends came down from Nebraska, and of course Shakezula and Nexon were there from LGM. I think I knew more people at the DC march than my own wedding. Amazing.
And with Trump already whining about media coverage of his no-show inauguration that combines THIS WAS THE BIGGEST, MOST ATTENDED EVENT EVER with his supporters tweeting about how no one was there because they have jobs even though evidently they all voted for them because they don’t have jobs, the clown show is already beginning in the White House.
What was interesting is that all the speakers but one moved forward and focused on resistance. There was one, a folksinger, who ranted about superdelegates and wanted to re-litigate the primary. But no one cared. That’s past. It’s time to move forward into resistance. That’s where the people are and they moved forward in that today.
After the march ended, I had some beers with some of my union friends. We had a good conversation around the critical question–what comes next? Part of the genius of the civil rights movement was that the big marches always had a concrete goal–March on Washington was to pass a civil rights bill, the campaigns in Montgomery, Birmingham, and Albany were to desegregate those cities, Chicago was for housing equality, SNCC actions in the Freedom Rides and the sit-ins were for the government to enforce the law or for cities to act, etc. These rallies today are more like the Vietnam War protests. They are against a very evil thing, but without a real concrete goal on how to achieve it. That’s OK. There are a lot of people out there who got off the couch, turned off CNN, and came out to a march, sometimes for the first time in their lives. That’s pretty great. How do we turn that energy into something concrete? I know the big thing among many commenters is that it should all go toward voting in 2018. That’s fine, but 2018 is a long time off. We do need good candidates, etc, and all that is important. But we also need ways to channel this energy toward something else other than just the next election cycle. That’s not always the easiest thing to do so.
Of course given the horrors to come, there will be plenty of chances to reignite this energy. But even here it will be in the negative–we don’t want ACA to be repealed, we don’t want abortion made illegal, we don’t want the advances on gay rights to be turned back, we don’t want to return to Jim Crow, etc. And these are huge things. But we also need a forward looking agenda too. And that’s something that is much harder to agree upon.
I will also say that it took until the last speaker to get the real core of the issue that lots of people don’t want to hear–the enemy is capitalism as much as it is racism and misogyny and homophobia. Was glad it was said.
Now the real work begins. Let’s all try to match today’s energy going forward.