Saturday, there were a number of protest marches being conducted around the country and the world, with the largest one in Washington DC. They were marching about women’s rights and civil rights, and against the threat being posed to them by the Trump presidency and the Republican Congress. It’s a very real threat they were marching against, because a great many rights that have up until now been taken for granted are no longer safe.
Every Republican-held state has been busily passing laws to remove funding from Planned Parenthood clinics, and close abortion clinics. Every one of them has been passing laws that do their level best to remove or drastically reduce things like “equal pay,” maternity leave, and a host of other protections that women enjoy.
The marches are a start, but they are only a start.
Back at the end of 2014, I wrote about the “Black Lives Matter” protests that were then occurring around the country, and I took some flack over it. It wasn’t because I didn’t support the cause, but my concern was that the protests were being seen as the “be all and end all” of getting action. As I pointed out then, and in later posts, protests in and of themselves don’t result in change. Protest marches are wonderful events. They’re generally big, they get media coverage, and they raise the visibility of your issues. But as the “Occupy Wall Street” protests showed, that’s all they accomplish if there’s no political action tied to it.
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, it’s the states where most of what the national Republicans have been actively implementing (or trying to) what they’re going to do on a national level. It’s where the push back needs to start, and if there’s one thing that needs to change, it’s turning out the vote in those mid-year elections. I’ve seen a lot of concern about voter suppression over the past few years, and lots of posts about how Republicans are making it increasingly more difficult for various groups of the Democratic base to register and vote. It’s a real and serious issue, but what keeps striking me is how often Democratic voters “self suppress,” by not showing up at the voting booth.
That’s got to change, and it has to continue for the next several years. It’s going to take a lot of work, and it will all have to happen after the marchers have gone home. This year, two states (Virginia and New Jersey) will be electing governors, and other states will be holding local elections. Next year, 36 states will be electing governors, most will also be electing other state offices and legislatures, every member of the House of Representatives will be on the ballot, and around a third of the Senators. The year after that, three states will be electing governors. Ignoring those elections, or failing to show up at the voting booth, means that the resistance will not succeed.
We’re in for a very rough time, and a lot of what many people have taken for granted is now, and will be, under assault. Your pet issue, be it women’s rights, LGBT equality, the environment, healthcare, education, Social Security, or any of a myriad others are on the chopping block. There is no “of course” about any of them, and it’s going to take a long time to undo the damage. The marches are a start, but the real work lies ahead.