Numbers for gatherings like this always vary and will be difficult to pinpoint—just ask the CIA (I still cannot get over Donald Trump lecturing the C-I-freaking-A on quantifying crowd sizes—it’s beyond parody). However, we can still get a good estimate, and by even the most pessimistic figures, the Women’s Marches included well over three million people peacefully assembling across 60 countries. It was the largest protest in American history. Some people may want to pigeon-hole the protest, but in effect, it was a counter-inauguration to what happened the day before.
Women are simply the largest group negatively affected by this agenda (and the groups negatively affected by this agenda include everyone who is not a rich, white, American man). You quite literally cannot reason with Trumpism, as it begins at a conclusion and traces its own facts backwards—alternative facts, if you will. Given how much science and technology have benefited those trapped underneath our modern caste system, any opposition to those facts is an affront to the general progress of society.
This wasn't solely about women's issues. This was about responding to an ideology which—viewed only through the lens of our corporate media—seems as if it has overtaken a majority of the country. However, according to the 2010 Census, 80.7% of us live in urban centers, yet we breathlessly have to hear about how if only those few of us in and around cities understood people out in Real America, we'd have less contentious politics, with very few angles coming from the opposite point of view. America is much more complex than that cartoon, and watering it down into a basic narrative hurts all of us.
The far right has overtaken a gigantically disproportionate swath of America. They're not even a majority in their own party, yet the media depicts them as comprising half the country (and always living outside city centers), which in-effect, makes life more difficult for those who sympathize with that worldview, or those who do live in dilapidated areas left behind by modernity, as it is harder for humans to feel empathy for majority groups. They're not a majority, and they're not even bigger than what we witnessed over the weekend.
This operation in false-equivalency naturally pits rural and urban Americans against each other by depicting each lifestyle in a carnival funhouse mirror. If we're going to assume that every Trump voter is a bigoted doofus living out in the sticks, then we can get 30 million people on the streets and it still won't heal the open wound oozing at the center of our politics. There are minorities being completely left behind by the digital age, and many of them endorsed something they truly don't understand in a moment of crisis. Remember, a lot of these Trump voters were Obama voters in 2008 AND 2012. Many of them want the same thing we do: to smash the Washington monopoly and reestablish the people as the true owners of our nation's capital.
This weekend proved that there are millions of people who are completely horrified by Trump. So what is it? What's the plan?
And that's where this weekend takes a somber turn. The left has been defined by fragmented groups all vying for similarly amorphous goals—without any cohesive plan to execute them. The Tea Party elected members of Congress, while Occupy Wall Street's largest accomplishment (other than helping to change the media narrative) is getting thrown out of a park. 20th and 21st century progressivism has been defined by disorganization—a fact that became much starker as the far right has become more and more adept at influencing government at every level. It's an issue of priorities and vision, as this tweetstorm from Matt Stoller perfectly encapsulated.
We can’t just think nationally about this. That’s the mindset that got us here. Again, what’s the plan? I, along with seemingly most of Paste’s readers, am certainly on board with opposing Trump’s agenda, but that’s a nebulous goal which effectively needs a city planner to visualize. So who is/are leading this movement? Where is it going? Are we simply going to counter-punch Trump or are we going to go on the offensive?
Those are answers that didn’t seem to have been answered this weekend. My father, one of the 1960s liberals who was part of a protest or two, bemoaned the lack of organizers or even simple pamphlets at the Denver Women’s March. He and his friends feel a guilt for giving us this world that they now want to help change again, but they do not know where to go.
The event itself hasn’t given much long-term guidance, as they have announced a plan for 10 actions in Trump’s first 100 days. They have revealed only the first.
Write a postcard to your Senators about what matters most to you – and how you’re going to continue to fight for it in the days, weeks and months ahead. We’re offering printable postcards for you to download.
You can go it alone, or consider inviting some friends, neighbors and fellow Marchers over for a drink or dinner sometime in the next ten days to talk about your experience and fill out your postcards.
Get the official card printed (see below), design your own, or be one of 10,000 people who can get a free Women’s March Postcard using the Ink Cards App. If you have the equipment, you can print at home, or download the file and get cards printed locally.
This is a good start, as this step seems like it exists predominantly to keep people engaged. If this movement is to win, it will need to bring the politically apathetic under its wings—as well as the inevitable disaffected Trump voters—and letting people express themselves on a postcard which reflects the inclusive message of a larger movement is a good start. But let’s not kid ourselves; a bunch of letters to Congress isn’t going to move the needle much. Flooding them with phone calls is far more effective, as they are forced to confront the outrage, because they cannot dial out until they plug the leak. It took five hours for Congress to go from almost completely defanging the ethics committee to pretending that it never occurred, thanks to a bevy of phone calls. Remember this scene from The Dark Knight?
In this case, our dynamite, gunpowder, and gasoline are phone calls to Congress. They are cheap, and when combined in large quantities, they can burn a whole damn building down. Tweeting at your Congressmen is a form of public masturbation, and actually pleasuring yourself in public has a better chance of getting their attention. Combating Trumpism will require a strong will, which was expressed over the weekend. But a will is nothing without a way, and right now, we are still searching for leaders in this budding campaign. Occupy Wall Street failed largely because of its commitment to a flat ruling structure—movements need leaders with an executable plan.
We marched, but all that progress and goodwill can be betrayed by a lack of organization really quickly. It’s time that the ~1% of America who cared enough to stand in the streets, exhorting a coordinated primal scream on a Saturday morning, took the time to channel that rage into real action. The movement has its members, and hoo-boy are there a ton. If we can figure out a way to point this energy in one measurable direction, silly fights over crowd sizes will be the least of Donald Trump’s problems.
Jacob Weindling is Paste’s business and media editor, as well as a staff writer for politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.