This past Saturday, I was one of ~150,000 people who swarmed the Boston Common–the largest demonstration in Boston in decades. We represented only a tiny fraction of the millions of women and men who took to the streets worldwide, responding to the threat posed by the newly-minted 45th President of the United States.
Determining the extent of that threat is still in progress. Fighting it will be the work of many coming years. We know that his administration poses a serious threat to the health, safety, and agency of women (the gestalt of these protests); to the very life of people of color; to the health of most Americans, but especially the poor ones; to the longevity of human habitat on Earth; to the pursuit of science; to a free press; to truth; and to the American experiment itself.
The most frequently-heard chant at Boston’s rally was to that latter point. Call (from a few throats): “Tell me what democracy looks like!” Response (from many throats, deafening): “This is what democracy looks like!” And it is–or at least, one of its most attractive faces. The vibe in Boston was downright joyful. There was drumming, dancing, laughter everywhere, waves of applause. There was a sense that we were there to be uplifted and damn it, we would be uplifted.
But this was just one day. And democracy for a day, as was made abundantly clear on November 8, 2016, is not enough democracy to make this thing work. Our participation in politics must become consistent, passionate, and supremely well-organized for the resistance to stand a chance against the empire.
I don’t have the slightest idea how to do this. I’ve been an armchair American for a long time. Fortunately, some thoughtful organizers out there have made it easy for those of us with occasional-democracy syndrome to take some baby steps out into the world of action.
10 Actions / 100 Days: The babiest of baby steps! The first one is sending a postcard with a nice note on it. (I can do this!)
The Big Hundred: Just a few days in, these actions to counter Trumpism seem geared to approachable, be kind to others-type things. Don’t be a jerk! (I can probably do this.)
Call Them In: I don’t even call people I love on the phone. Why would I call people I don’t even know? To save the world? Yes, okay, good reason. But I can’t just…like…do it. So these lovely folks have made it incredibly easy. I don’t even have to pick my own words. So easy. So democratic. (I will work up to this.)
Swing Left: This might be my favorite. Results-oriented planning FTW! These folks want us to take back the House in 2018. Without it, we just can’t have nice things–such as checks and balances! Or an impeachment! Find out where your nearest swing district is and get to work. I get overwhelmed by how much there is to be done; I like that this is not only clear but scope-constrained. (I look forward to doing this.)
And yes, obviously, find some way to support groups like the SPLC and the ACLU and Planned Parenthood and the Environmental Defense Fund, groups that have been fighting this fight for a long time and know what they’re doing.
I’ve seen numerous sources point out that yeah, this whole Trump thing is a disgrace and a catastrophe, but without it, would millions of us have taken to the streets to raise our voices for women, for people of color, for indigenous rights, for gay rights, for immigration justice, for environmental justice, for a better America? Would we have finally realized that a better America means all that other stuff, all at once? (Um. No. In case you were wondering.) Yet these issues have been taking their toll–on real human lives–not just throughout our country’s sordid history, but during the past eight years.
We’ve had a President we could be proud of for the past two terms. He was classy and smart, handsome and charming. He had his heart mostly in the right place most of the time, and plus he had Michelle and Joe Biden backing him up, so, yeah, we swooned. Now we have a President we’re ashamed of–but truly, there was a lot to be ashamed of all along. Our love affair with Barack Obama just made us overlook the flaws.
This is a serious lesson in silver linings. We’re being forced to decide what we want this country to be. We can choose to make this a country to be proud of, which will take an unthinkable amount of hard work and coming together and action and love, or we can choose to wake up from the American dream once and for all.
If the moral universe does indeed have an arc, then justice is the horizon. This weekend’s march made me view what’s happening right now across the world–the regression towards xenophobia and insularity, the desperate last gasp of the reign of the white man–as merely a fata morgana. That’s when our eyes get tricked into perceiving something on the horizon as bigger than it actually is, and unreachable: ships that seem to float above the ocean, or cities in the clouds. But America is not a city in the clouds. We can reach its heart, and lay siege to it, and take it back.