As Donald Trump’s inauguration draws near, a number of groups are planning various events and rallies – perhaps most notably, the Women’s March on Washington. I have read a number of opinion pieces and spoken to many people about the March, and several questions and criticisms seem to consistently arise. I would like to address some two of the major themes.
(Q) The election is over, the new President will have taken office – what’s the point of a march the day after the inauguration?
(A) The election certainly is over – but the consequences of the election outcome officially begin on January 20th. This march is not about the election; it is not about questioning the outcome, or placing blame, or about who voted for whom – it is about what happens now. Marching the day after the inauguration means that we are not marching for or against a presidential candidate. We are marching FOR affordable quality healthcare, quality public education, LGBTQ rights, disability rights, reproductive freedom, religious freedom, free speech, free press, racial equality, a common sense gun regulation, and much more; all things that have been threatened by both rhetoric and actions by the incoming administration. We are marching AGAINST the hate and intolerance that Trump stands for. We are marching to make our voice heard for rights and freedoms for ALL of us, regardless of who we voted for. If you voted for Trump because of his stance on immigration but value a quality public school education, we march for you. If you voted for Trump because of his stated support for Israel but you are disabled and need rights, respect and Medicare assistance, we march for you. If you didn’t vote for whatever reason, you too deserve access to affordable health care, freedom to practice your religion, and respect and tolerance so you feel safe – and we march for you too.
(Q) You are marching on Donald Trump’s first full day as President, when he hasn’t even done anything yet! Why not give him a chance, and save your complaining for after something actually happens?
(A) Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” We heard Donald Trump speak about his belief and his plans, and particularly now with a Republican majority in Congress, we believe that he will try to push them all through. His spoken words, though, are not the only issue: we have seen his Cabinet appointments, seen their track records and what they stand for, and each one of them presents a threat to our rights, freedoms and well-being. It goes without saying that complaining after damage has been done is not nearly as effective as putting forth maximum effort to try to prevent the damage in the first place. We are marching so that all of our elected officials – not just Donald Trump, but also every member of the legislature – know that they do not have carte blanche. Through this march, we are showing the incoming government that we are many, we are passionate, we are determined, and we will not quietly accept an agenda that threatens our rights and freedoms. If we end up pleasantly surprised by Trump, then great! But every single person (note: not just women!) of the hundreds of thousands marching that day – not just in DC, but in many other places across the country – will be watching the government’s every move like hawks. And we will not be silent.