Are Americans ready for revolution? This thought kept going through my head as I stood in the rain among the crowds of hundreds of women, men, children and citizens filling the streets in front of the capitol. We were here for the Women’s March on Washington and were representing the state of Oregon. Standing amidst of the crowd, taking note of the various colorful umbrellas, signs and personalities in the crowd, I began to realize something: Are these people truly ready for revolution?
Does revolution have to be the only option? Well, if we’re serious about altering our course of heading into what is already looking to be one of the wealthiest administrations in our country’s history, we need to understand why a portion of the public — although not the majority, but large enough — felt that Donald Trump was the right person to lead the country. If we do not acknowledge the failure of the corporate media, the Democratic Party’s continued lockout of labor and the growing economic despair in the country, people like Trump will continue to take office.
It’s easy to see the distractions around us. The people’s interest in speeches at the march were to clap are the right cues, cheer at the right moments and repeat the chants in unison. Then people would break up and begin their attention back to their phones, taking selfies or pictures of the crowds. They would quickly post these images to show the world they were here in this moment of history. But are people really present, really listening, really ready? A meme online showed a Black woman holding a sign that read: “Remember white women voted for Trump too?” and behind her were three young white girls taking selfies presenting the event more of a festival celebration or being part of a trend than an actual protest event.
Are people really looking at the real picture? Are we mentally prepared for the challenges? I believe there is a large portion of the population that is. I believe social media has become ingrained in politics since its inception, and in a lot of ways, it has spread messages across the world. I can’t deny that I, myself, always at these events, more as an observer and photographer, took my fair share of photos to put up on social media. Presuming the dual role of reporter and participator in history.
We need to acknowledge the whole system has because corrupt to the point that even progressives continue to compromise their own issues in favor of having a seat at the table. And this brings me back to my starting point. Standing with my fellow comrades, I began to wonder are people ready for this. Are we truly ready to acknowledge the failure of the Democratic Party corruption and the disingenuous campaign Hillary Clinton ran? Are we ready to challenge the Democratic Party, if not overthrow it for a new political party?
While this march was to bring attention to women and the real damage that is already taking place on women’s rights under a Republican-filled Congress and Trump presidency, it was also to show that the US can come together and acknowledge that women’s rights are tied into class and income. It’s no coincidence that many of the signs were about equal pay. Several signs also referenced Black Lives Matter, a group that openly acknowledges the correlation between class and race. So, I was not too surprised to only hear the one speaker who was hesitant to mention identity politics because of her race, was also the only one who brought up the issue of class.
The rise of Sen. Cory Booker from New Jersey has many talking the possibility of a presidential run in 2020. It should be no surprise he was also one of the many democrats to vote against a bill that would have allowed the importation of lower drugs from Canada to the US. Cory’s vote probably had nothing to the do with his campaign being financed by the pharmaceutical company.
Many videos being shared from the Betsy Devos hearings on her appointment to run the US Department of Education criticized Devos for not saying whether public and private institutions that receive public funding should be held to the same standards. But let’s not ignore the fact that many progressives and Democrats share responsibility for pushing this narrative of the unequal standards between charter and public schools.
Even progressive Democrats like Elizabeth Warren recently approved the appointment of Ben Carson to be in charge of Housing Urban Development (HUD), even though he has no experience to speak of. To give Warren credit, she did press Carson on the concern over the potential conflict of interest with Trump being a former real estate developer and future HUD projects. But that wasn’t enough to stand up and stop the approval of his appointment.
It’s easy to worry that people are more inclined for a temporary fix than a radical one. People became complacent with Obama after he failed to enact on his promise of real change. People may miss him now, but other people in this country didn’t feel the recovery. Obama did little to challenge the system from moving in the same direction as it did under Bush and Clinton, enacting similar policies and allowing inequality in the country to continue to grow.
The brilliant thing about Trump was he was an insider of the corporate world who could present himself as an outsider. He was a person who benefited from the trade deals and tax policies he openly criticized; something Hillary, part of the establishment, could not say. Sanders, who identified these same corruptions in the system, was blocked out by some of the same progressives who backed Hillary and sponsored this march.
Sanders supporters who are already preparing themselves for his 2020 run are no better. We can’t just wait another four years for the same people to invest our hopes in the belief that they can change whatever damage has been done without our own action. This only furthers our complacency and allows people like Trump to return. We, as a public, need to get our shit together and work together. We need to be daring. We cannot afford to put our hopes and faith into the Democratic Party to do its job. It’s failed us. This election wasn’t won by Trump, but lost by the Democratic Party.
Being in a crowd of hundreds upon hundreds of people was inspiring, even with my questions of doubt. I can see that this is an important opportunity for us as country to build something new and better.
The Women’s March was an historic movement for the US and it’s said to be the largest protests in US history; those who showed up should be proud to have been part of it. I am not here to take that away from anyone. I just want us to be ready for what’s next. We can lay the groundwork for our future. Although it may not seem like it now, this is our future. This is our moment. One slogan that kept seeing at the rally — that was ironically taken from the Clinton campaign — was “Stronger together.” This is true, we just need to follow through with it.