We birthed a movement yesterday.
Millions of us came out to tell the people in power that we will not tolerate the dismantling of the social contract we have built over the last 300 years.
We came out and showed the world what a peaceful demonstration looks like. More than a million people in Washington demonstrated without a single arrest. Not one.
While we waited in a line a half mile long to board a train to the city, we sang freedom songs, chanted and learned a little about each other.
Things even got silly as we chanted, “What do we want? A RIDE! When do we want it? NOW!”
It took us four and a half hours to get from the bus to the rally, but we never lost our cool. We were part of it from the moment we stepped off the bus, together in our desire to pursue justice and prevent the carnage the 1 percent wants to release on our country.
Signs ranged from simple two-word slogans (Dump Trump) to profane (This pussy grabs back) to clever (Can’t comb over sexism) to profound ( I march because she deserves every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve her dreams).
My little group of nine women never got into the march area because there was no room. We got close and then couldn’t move in any direction until someone else moved back and we followed, all holding onto each other. We did that three times as we tried to get across the mall to meet the North Carolina delegation, and weren’t successful.
No matter, we were there. We were part of history, and we won’t ever forget that.
While the official government count was 500,000, the mayor of DC said at noon (as crowds of us were still trying to get into the city) there were 680,000. Before the Administration shut down its Twitter account, the Metro Police estimated 1.5 million people. Now, there’s a real fact.
Then, the alternative-fact-er in chief came out and said he had 1.5 million people at his coronation.
He did not. Metro Police told us there were empty seats on every train into the city on Coronation Day. An elevator operator at L’Enfant Plaza told us he was able to squeeze in a quick nap or two, but that on March Day, he hadn’t had a single break.
There are those who say the march was all white people whining about losing, but the diversity was everywhere I looked. I walked beside blacks and whites, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Pagans and more.
This was not about losing an election (which actually, we didn’t, since we won the popular vote by 3 million). We were there for a purpose: to tell the people in power that we expect them to use it with wisdom, compassion and justice.
Now we have to show them we mean it.
I know how wonderful yesterday felt; I’m still basking in the joy of its solidarity. I plan to spend all day today basking in it.
But we have work to do, and lots of it.
What is your next step? What will you do to ensure we keep our liberties intact and move forward rather than backward toward hate and division?
The man who won the Electoral College but lost the popular vote by 3 million is already talking about “alternative facts.” I call them lies and I will continue to call them out. We all have to do that.
They know that if you repeat a lie enough times, people begin to believe it. It’s how we got climate change deniers. It’s how people came to believe Hillary Clinton is a murderer. It’s how that man “won” the election.
This government already is talking about dismantling the entire social contract we have built — public education, Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, the Environmental Protection Agency, Veterans services, disability services and more.
They actually are in the minority, but the public apathy they have fostered, the distrust of government, have had a profound effect on our elections.
We must vote, at the very, very least. As they try to take away our votes with laws aimed at suppressing the votes against them, we have to turn out in numbers so large that they’ll still lose.
And our votes must be informed votes. We must learn about the issues so that the “alternate facts” don’t blind us.
We need our legislators to know our names because we call, write and e-mail each of them at least once a week. If enough of us do that, they’ll know we’ll send them home if they don’t do OUR business.
Several years ago, when I approached Rep. Mark Meadows and introduced myself, he sneered, “Oh, I know who you are.” I was thrilled. I’m trouble.
We all need to be trouble, to keep showing up at demonstrations and letting our legislators know that we’re watching what they’re doing and how they’re voting.
We need to run for office, locally, at the state and at the federal levels.
I felt an energy yesterday that I haven’t felt in many, many years. There was an air of hope that we can change the course of history, and I believe we can.
But we won’t change anything if we just go home, share photos and say, “I was there.”
One friend, a former editor, just bought the Internet domain, www.alternativefacts.me, where I believe he will call out lies. He’s known to call out fake news posts; I assume he’ll do that and more with his web site.
You don’t have to build a web site, but you can call out lies on social media when you see them. Before you share a story, find another source so you know it’s true. I’m pretty careful, but I’ve been fooled a couple times when I didn’t check.
It is our job to continue the work we started yesterday.
We birthed a movement. Now we must nurture it, grow it, work for it and make sure it makes the difference we need.
What are you going to do next?