The second Women’s March inaugurated what I expect to be a yearly event going forward, for the duration. A political organizer will tell you that getting a big turnout two years in a row is a sign that the fuse is lit in the electoral base. A large, lively citizen activist cohort showed up, here in Sonoma and in many other cities across the country. What I liked most about the event was the dedication and clarity of the women speakers and the fierce energy of the young female activists. They are not putting up with sexism, racism, and xenophobia at all, period. The Women’s March served notice that the culture has irreversibly changed, regardless of who is in power now.
Mass actions should serve as mementos to pocket and record into the annals of the People’s History book. The 2018 Women’s March marked the day that the feminist movement announced a new cultural baseline: ‘Women will not accept a subordinate status. The age of impunity is over. We will share authority with men…’
I second that motion.
Indivisible, the nation-wide grass-roots Resistance movement, which sprang directly from the 2017 Women’s March, is a new arrival on the American political landscape. The whole range of the Indivisible social coalition showed up at the Plaza. Newly minted young social justice activists in their teens, millennial hipsters of both sexes, white and brown young mothers with strollers, all the various factions of the Left, and every elected Democrat in the Valley. The demographics of the national Indivisible/Resistance movement activist core are largely white, black and brown middle-age women. They are here to save this country, God bless them.
The feminist influence infuses the Resistance tone and style. I spoke with a woman at the Indivisible Sonoma table on the Plaza at the march and asked if they had public meetings and she said that they had weekly social gatherings at a local restaurant, since the Sonoma Valley Democratic Club had monthly formal meetings, with public figures and elected officials. After a pause, I recognized the brilliance of this strategy. No normal person wants to go to constant political meetings. Getting together with a group of like-minded friends for a glass of wine and a chance to talk and process the weekly avalanche of alarming breaking news and fresh Republican monstrosities sounds appealing, not like a chore. That smart tactic has the feminist touch.
Let’s sort out the players here in this newly emerged formation of the broad progressive coalition. The Resistance (as represented by informally organized social formations like Indivisible, Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, #NODAPL, Occupy), liberal Clinton Democrats, progressive Bernie Democrats, active public sector unions (SEIU 1021 and National Nurses United), and the whole spectrum of the formally organized feminist, anti-racist, civil liberties groups (Planned Parenthood, Southern Poverty Law Center, ACLU), and even elements of the anarchist/anti-imperialist Left (antifa and Green Party types who usually disdain conventional electoral politics). The unifying principle seems to be fear and loathing of the current president.
That’s a start, but that’s not quite really politics yet. A populist coalition based solely on a visceral reaction to one man’s degenerate personality will be short-lived. The emergence of this new, potentially game-changing electoral demographic is an opportunity for progressive organizers to do some basic political education and turn this bloc into a durable, self-regenerating political asset.
Mass-scale social movements are ephemeral. It takes intention and hard work to fuse that energy into an enduring progressive majority coalition. I know that we’re entering Twitter fad territory when ‘the Resistance’ has expanded beyond all meaningful definition to encompass ‘never Trumpers’ like checkered lifetime Republican operatives David Frum and Bill Kristol. Those guys are not our friends.
This time around, when the Trump Administration falls apart, we will have to burn the MSM Republican pundit-class lifeboats so that they can’t escape the burning wreckage of their own party. We can’t make the mistake of taking our eye off the ball and letting all the media talking heads who enabled the rise of the Trump cult to suddenly pretend that they never knew the guy, ‘never liked the tweets’, call themselves a ‘constitutional conservative’ and rebrand the same toxic right-wing Republican product as the ‘Tea Party’ or whatever marketing ruse they come up with next time around.
The Resistance will get some teeth when it moves beyond a negative cult of personality to a full-scale opposition to the reactionary Republican economic privatization and social exclusion political schemes. We will move from being ‘the Resistance’ to being ‘the U.S. government’ when we move to a full-throated advocacy for the progressive agenda and vote consistently for the best available option up and down the ballot in every election. The support beam of progressive movements is solidarity, across our many differences and distinctions. The tyrant does not care if you hate him, as long as we don’t love each other. Our solidarity and care for one another is the best defense against a reckless and selfish oligarchic tyranny.