It’s now clear that more than a million women and men took to the streets across the nation yesterday to voice strong opinions about the nation’s 45th president and the state of the nation.
The election is over. Why?
I wasn’t in Chicago, or Los Angeles or Washington, D.C., where the crowd was reportedly larger than that which attended the presidential inauguration the day before.
But I was in Austin, where a good-humored, assertive, but emotional group of protesters took up ten city blocks, looping from the capital down to 6th street and back again. Ralph Barrera, who’s witnessed many marches in his 34 years as a photographer for the Austin American-Statesman, told me he’s never seen anything as large.
Wives and husbands held hands. Moms shepherded children. Two percussion sections kept a staccato beat going . Bullhorns canted chants. Marchers carried everything from pinatas to trees. It was a festival of sorts, with an undercurrent of resolve.
Three weeks ago I attended a meeting of about fifty women in Richardson, broadly representative of the signs I saw at the state capital. Most were members of a fast-growing group called the Pantsuit Republic. Some planned to go to Washington, others to Austin. They were mostly white, worried about immigration, reproductive rights, global warming, and education, among other things. They exchanged information on how they might change the results of coming elections, after despairing the results of November. It was also clear that they gained solace in being with people who shared their values.
In Austin on Saturday there was that same feeling. “We are here to let each other know we’re not alone,” they were saying. Although frustration with Donald Trump was a key element, feminism, women’s rights, and unaccomplished goals propelled the marchers. Callie Pruett of Dallas came dressed as a suffragette.
“This is how democracy works!,” the yell leaders chanted. It might be, if Saturday’s vigor can be sustained. That would put Saturday’s marchers on a collision course with those who participated in the inauguration on Friday. The result might be catastrophic, unless the message of yet another sign is heeded by both sides. That one said: Bridges Not Walls.