On Inauguration Day, 2017, my oldest stepdaughter and I boarded a plane bound for Washington, DC. We most emphatically were not headed to the swearing-in of the 45th President of the United States. Rather, we were going to participate in what I thought of as the anti-inauguration: The Women’s March in Washington scheduled for the day after the inauguration.
The gate area was filled with mostly women. About 10 minutes before boarding was announced, someone called out, “Who here is going to the March?” About 3 dozen women said “I am!”
We posed for a selfie prior to boarding.
Hundreds of thousands of women – and men – came from all corners of the United States to march in Washington. Women – and men – who didn’t come to Washington marched in 600 other cities here in the U.S. and abroad. All told, anywhere from 2.9 to 5 million people participated in what was not only a commitment to women’s and human rights but also a larger statement of protest against one Donald J. Trump.
Participating in this was, for me, one of the unique experiences of my life.
In the week after, I’ve tried to assess whether the Washington March and the sister city marches were effective on a larger level.
For myself and the people I know who participated, the marches bestowed an enormous feeling of empowerment, a knowledge that even if we live in far-flung diverse geographies, there is a virtual community that holds collective power.
There were moments of exhilaration in hearing thousands of people chant “This is what democracy looks like!” or “Stop the hate, stop the fear, refugees are welcome here!” or – my personal favorite – “Welcome to your second day, we will never go away!”
It’s true that individually we are each one single voice. The larger truth is that this individual voice is heard further and more clearly and is harder to ignore when it is joined with another. And another. And then another hundred or thousand voices.
It is critical that we each use our individual voices to join with others and participate in the collective voice, the collective SHOUT, on a consistent and everyday basis.
As Michael Moore said during the Washington March, we must call our Congressional representatives every day to register our individual voice. And when we all make that one daily act, we join into the collective shout. Each of us can do this by calling 202-224-3121 and by providing the operator with our ZIP code. The operator will connect us with our Representative and our Senators.
Three phone calls every day.
That’s certainly do-able. And there is certainly enough fodder upon which to tell our representatives our positions. And to remind them that we are voting constituents.
It’s One Action Per Day. And for all the creative and witty and concise signs I saw at the March, that was my favorite, because isn’t that the point?
So was the March, were all the Marches effective?
Sitting here on Sunday, January 29, I say yes. People are learning the power of the collective. Yesterday, after Trump’s xenophobic, unAmerican and mostly useless Executive Order went into effect, thousands of Americans went to some 10-12 international airports in the U.S. to protest the detention of Muslims seeking to enter the U.S. Many, many thousands more took to social media to protest what was happening. And all of us protesting in person or virtually celebrated when the ACLU successfully obtained a stay in the implementation of the execrable Executive Order.
Power to the people. May we the people be vigilant and never forget to exercise it, and may our leaders never forget we have it.