It is hard to imagine different political perspectives, background and demeanor than those of Barack Obama and Donald Trump. The recent election was historic in many ways including new levels of vitriol issued against fellow candidates, the media, political advocates and campaign staff. Despite all the acrimony, on January 20th, the United States witnessed another peaceful transfer of power ushering in the 45th democratically elected president in our country’s history.
For many across the United States, the results of the election itself are confusing including the fact that Secretary Hillary Clinton won nearly 3 million more votes than her Republican opponent and still lost the Electoral College vote. Many point to polls that were way off the mark, on average predicting a comfortable win for Clinton and others indicating a potential landslide victory for the Democrat.
Still others aren’t wasting time on “what-ifs” but rather making it clear that current Trump tactics won’t be accepted, preparing for what the next four years of a Trump presidency could bring, or already issuing rallying cries to make the Republican a one-term president by regaining the presidency in four years.
Protest Heard ‘Round the World
Trump spoke to an audience less than half the size of Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, the country’s high water mark for any presidential inauguration. Trump’s claims of record crowds have been proven false – the number of attendees was closer to Bush’s 2005 mark of 400,000 attendees than either of Obama’s two inauguration ceremonies – 1.5 and 1 million in 2009 and 2013 respectively.
Trump’s swearing-in brought record crowds, not to see the inauguration itself, but to protest. From Denver to Seattle to New York to Washington, D.C. the U.S.’ largest organized protests labeled the “Women’s March” took place just one day after the presidential inauguration. In cities across the country, as well as cities across Europe and Australia, thousands showed up to protest the Trump presidency. A small group even assembled in Antarctica.
Denver resident Pam Parker traveled with 13 - year-old daughter, Elizabeth Osborne to attend the Women’s rally to serve as an example, “… it was really important to me to show my daughter how important it is to speak out when you believe injustice is being done. It’s critical for people of privilege, in our case white privilege, to show up for people of color and others who don’t enjoy the same rights.” Parker continued, “I’d also say that there are scary legislative changes on the horizon (ACA, reproductive rights, social security) on which we must be heard.”
The D.C. speaker lineup was a “Who’s Who” in women’s rights – President of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards kicked off the day, joined by Celebrities America Ferrera and Ashley Judd, and longtime feminists and activists, Angela Davis and Gloria Steinem. Ilyasah Shabazz and Maryum Ali, daughters of civil rights pioneer Malcolm X, and boxer-activist Muhammad Ali, respectively, also stoked the crowd.
Denver’s Women’s March
Colorado Speaker of the House, Crisanta Duran, stayed closer to home, firing up the Denver throngs with chants of, “Who runs the world? Girls run the world!” She compared these times to the fight for decent wages and conditions for farm-workers, women’s rights, and civil rights. “The most important part of democracy is being a citizen of this country.” She thanked participants for expressing their perspective, “We cannot and must not tolerate attacks against women and people of color. Our continued success as a State is not guaranteed… If we normalize language and behavior… if we do not defend our foundational values, then our democracy is at risk… Join me in defending an inclusive Colorado.” Crisanta marched with her mom and cousin joining an estimated crowd of over 100,000 culminating in Denver’s Civic Center Park.
Signs at the event showed the broad spectrum of reasons why people participated in the protest – “Refugees Welcome” “Protect People Not Corporations” “Dads Against Donald” “El Pueblo Unido Jamás Será Vencido” “Soy Mujer I Demand Choices Over My Own Body, Soy Chicana I Demand Respect For My Identity”.
Latina Jeanette Angel offered the poem prior to walking in Denver: (see page 15 in web edition)
Thousands of men joined daughters, wives, mothers and friends at the Denver rally and across the country. Denverite Dan Culhane isn’t stopping there. He has pulled together a group of friends and neighbors though email, sending messages on knowing your rights in protesting to meeting in person to map out political strategies for the next four years. Culhane closed out a recent email with the following: “Thank you for all you do! Be safe! Be smart! We, the people, are the government. It is up to us to be the government we want and deserve!”
Denver attorney Jason Flores-Williams (known for heading the lawsuit against the City of Denver on behalf of the homeless) reported that at least 230 people were charged with felonies for protesting the inauguration in Washington, DC. Flores-Williams will represent nine of those defendants at no charge.
Viral Women’s Movements
www.Womensmarch.com claims over 1 million marched in Washington, D.C. and over 5 million marched worldwide on January 21st to protest Trump’s presidency. Organizers suggest the marches as a starting point, and have launched an effort to ask supporters to do 10 Actions in 100 Days. As a starting point, the organization is asking marchers to write their elected leaders about “…any issue that you care about…”. Suggestions include ending gender-based violence, worker’s rights, and immigrant rights. The website suggests sharing experiences under the Twitter hashtag: #WhyIMarch.
Another viral movement started before the march, used music as a unifying force to bring together women from other states to perform theme song, “I Can’’t Keep Quiet” as flash mobs before and during the protest in Washington, D.C. Singers rehearsed online and pulled off performances led by L.A. artist MILCK and posted online, receiving over 10 million views in two days on Facebook alone. Website www.icankeepquiet.org documents their experience, features the title song and offers a portal for connection and products benefiting women’s organizations.
Trump Signs First Executive Orders
In the wake of the protests, Trump on Monday signed his first three executive orders including withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, disallowing foreign non-profits from funding abortions and a federal hiring freeze.