Long post. If you don’t have time to read, feel free to skip ahead to the FAQs.
(Also, I chose to use the “we” instead of “I” because, while I don’t pretend to speak for everyone who marched and their own personal reasons for marching, I do think the collectivity of the event is so important and therefore the “we” seemed most appropriate).
So mostly my social media feeds have been like WHOA! yesterday and today. Fierce love, triumph, redemption. Images and sounds of voices rising up. Determination, bravery, resilience. More love.
But I’ve also seen a few comments from folks who are confused about the marches. Questions about what we expect the outcome to be. A lot of “what’s done is done” kind of stuff. He’s our president now, and if we don’t understand this, then we don’t understand democracy. This last one gets me the most. I am here to answer your most pressing questions regarding yesterday’s worldwide women’s marches!
This IS democracy. This is what democracy looks like — live and in action. Democracy is the freedom to speak out against your government. Democracy is system within which all citizens have a voice, and that voice is not limited to the voting booth. It goes far beyond that.
(I’m not a history scholar, nor a political scientist — not even a civics buff, so hang with me here and feel free to correct me where I am wrong…). The bill of rights was created as a means of limiting government control. It was there to ensure that democracy stayed in place and we didn’t end up with a fascist, dictatorship, or otherwise. Take our two most controversial, yet fiercely protected, constitutional amendments: The first amendment is, in part, there to ensure we can take to the streets, or the op-ed pages of newspapers, or to town hall meetings and express our ideas about how the government is or is not serving us. It is also there, in part, to protect the press — to help ensure that the media can keep us well informed as a citizenry. The second amendment, which we hear so much about these days, is there so that we the people can be adequately armed should we ever (God forbid) need to exercise violence to resist oppression and rise up against a government that has gone rogue. I’m not even trying to make an argument for or against these amendments — that’s far too big and complex for what I’m getting at here. I’m just trying to point out that by the definition and tenets of democracy upon which this country was founded — here we are looking at it straight in the face. Democracy isn’t always this shiny, happy thing that we make it out to be when we make statements about wanting to spread it across the globe (this is not to say I’m not a supporter of our democracy). Sometimes it looks like this: messy. Sometimes the messiness also looks beautiful — like it did yesterday.
We the people ARE the checks and balance system of government. This is how democracy works (or should work. We just don’t get to see it working all that often).
So civics lesson on democracy over. Onto why we march.
We march because it matters. It is important to send up the message to our government and to the world that the the ideology just voted into office doesn’t necessarily represent this country. It doesn’t represent all of us. It doesn’t represent me. We march to say loudly that we don’t support bigotry and misogyny. That we don’t hate people who appear different than us. We march to say to Trump and his administration that we are here, we are loud, we are not going away, and that it is his job, in fact, to listen to us and to take into account what we have to say. And what we have to say is that we will not tolerate hate. We will not tolerate bullying. We will not tolerate the objectification of women. We will not stand for xenophobia, Islamaphobia, transphobia, homophobia, racism, sexism, and ableism. We march to exercise our right to use our voices — especially collective voices — to say this outcome is not okay with us and we don’t plan to stand idly by and let our government run amuck. We march to say, together we can do this. We have each other. We care about each other. We march so that our political representatives will listen and do their job in holding Trump accountable.
If Trump is truly a POTUS of/for the people (and yes, I’m sorry/not sorry, but I don’t call him my President, and I’m just not at the point of acceptance), then he will acknowledge that more than four million people worldwide took to the streets yesterday to send him a message. He will spend more time acknowledging this than how many people were or weren’t at his inauguration, and he will go, “Huh, a lot of the people take issue with how I’ve been doing things thus far. They don’t like the words I use. This isn’t good. This is divisive. This is not what a President does. A President works toward unity. I think I need to recalibrate. I think I need to make some changes.” (I’m not naive enough to hold my breath on this one, but in terms of outcomes, that is kind of what we are aiming for).
So, in sum:
Is marching a form of democracy? Yes.
Why do you march? To exercise our right to speak out against xenophobia, Islamaphobia, transphobia, homophobia, racism, sexism, ableism, and general hatred.
What do you expect the outcome to be? For Trump to put on his POTUS pants and listen to what the people are saying.
(Just to clarify this last one a bit. I do realize that there are people who support Trump, and that those people have other concerns — concerns that they felt they voiced in the voting booth. I am aware that they too have a voice, and as long as that voice isn’t expressing hatred, then, of course, Trump needs to address their concerns as well. I, personally, have serious doubts about the potential for this, but let’s see…. Part of the job of the President to listen to the various voices and find ways of building bridges, looking for common ground, seeking ways to bring us closer together not drive us further apart.)