I rode from Austin to Houston on a bus filled with women attending the Women’s March on Austin on January 21st, 2017. I was the only man riding on the bus. As an always on duty blogger, I watch the machinations among leaders and participants on the bus and on the grounds. I do not want to sound “genderist” in any manner, but the impression I got was that women are much more organizational and societal than men.
The Women’s March on Austin was astounding. Based on all reports, the myriad of marches around the world was equally successful. Over three million participated in the United States and over four million worldwide. This event far exceeded any one day of Occupy which was but a fraction of these totals.
The women and men allies in these protests all had a resolve not seen since Occupy. But a march is just that, a march. If there is no action that follows. If it is not sticky and ongoing, it is just a march.
There is an important article by Micah White, the co-founder of Occupy Wall Street that every organizer, activist, and citizen must read. It is titled “Without a path from protest to power, the Women’s March will end up like Occupy.” Read the entire article, but the following snippet is probative.
Today’s social activists have succumbed to one of the most enduring myths of contemporary American protest: the comforting belief that if you can get enough people into the streets from diverse demographics, largely unified behind a clear message, then our representatives will be forced to heed the crowd’s wishes.
If this story has ever been true, and I’m not so sure it has, then it hasn’t been the case since 1963, when 250,000 people marched on Washington for “jobs and freedom” and heard Martin Luther King Jr deliver his I Have a Dream speech. Less than a year later, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex or national origin” in employment and housing.
But let’s be real: there are countless counter-examples of marches on Washington that failed: the 1913 march of women to demand the right to vote, the 1978 march for the Equal Rights Amendment, the 1986 Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament, the Million Man March of 1995, the 2004 March for Women’s Lives, the inauguration protests against George W Bush’s second term in 2005 … the list is practically endless. Activists have a tendency to ignore repeated failure in favor of overemphasizing one or two anomalous minor victories.
The absolute failure of the 15 February 2003 anti-war protest, the largest synchronized global march in human history, was the last gasp of this tactic. Today’s nominally democratic governments would be more concerned by the absence of our marches, as that might suggest something darker is in the works.
The only way to attain sovereignty – the supreme authority over the functioning of our government – is to use social protest to win elections or win wars. Either we can march to the ballot box or the battleground; there is no third option.
Micah also pointed out that women were instrumental, the catalyst during the French Revolution. Just maybe Occupy needed to be a bit more estrogen led.
Since the Women’s March, things have actually sped up. Just locally, many women’s groups have led walkings, callings, and protests at our Congresspersons’ and Senators’ local offices. I actually visited Ted Cruz’s office where police officers were called to remove all but four of us from the building as the Cruz office changed policies only to see four from any one group.
We had a second OurRevolution’s conveners meeting strategizing on electing local and national politicians in all upcoming races. Many are participating in organizational meetings for daily action and weekly actions with our local acceptable seasoned politicians and nascent politicians. Women organizations and others are putting the Indivisible template to work. The grassroots is working.
And then there were the Democrats. Disregarding the racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, and the misogynistic portion of Trump’s campaign, he sold a semblance of a Progressive economic platform better than we did. And I am not only speaking about Hillary Clinton. I am speaking about Democrats in the aggregate. Yes, it’s clear it was always a lie, but he sold it.
As I’ve mentioned in several blogs, Americans are not seeking perfection in tone and morals anymore from their political leaders. Many want someone they perceive as being a fighter for them. They want someone who will fight for things that will make their lives better.
Donald Trump successfully gave many, specifically in the Midwest and Appalachia an out, and was rewarded for it. He told them that none of their problems is their fault. Those other people caused their pain. It is easy to turn someone’s pain, and bad luck into hate for someone they perceive is not worthy, less than, our causal. Trump then promised them the world. The reality is that the condition many of these people are in is directly attributable to the people they have elected since Reagan. That a few who voted correctly for decades switched to Trump is again a result attributed to the same people Trump is coddling.
I currently see no fight in Democrats in the aggregate coming out of Washington or the state parties. I hear a lot of noise. But I see, and I am a party of, and we all should be a party of, a new burgeoning grassroots movement with an intent call to account. What is more promising is that the structure is outside the confining walls and prison of the Democratic Party and any other party for that matter. This movement is concurrently teaching civics to empower every American and teaching political savvy.
An empowered American will ensure the appropriate candidate ascends from party primaries. An empowered American know that their vote matters. But more importantly, an empowered American is a politically engaged citizen. Real citizenship requires political engagement. It is time for the Democratic revolt and women started it.