Opinion: What Comes After Protests?
Like many who attended the Women’s March on Washington, during the four-hour standing around period, I experienced a stream of sobering thoughts and ideas about what plans President Donald Trump has for me and my fellow Americans. What good could possibly come out of having someone leading my country who’s bragged about sexual assault, denied the significant influence humanity has had on the world’s climate, and questioned the citizenship of our first black president? What good could come out of a press team for such an individual that is unwilling to answer hard questions, instead retreating behind “alternative facts?”
An adversarial press, hopefully.
It is time for journalists to think critically and value newsworthiness over clickbait. What Trump decides to tweet on a daily basis is not news. It never was, but with his presidency in full swing as of Friday, it’s even more crucial that writers look past the distractions and toward the actions of our new president.
Localized political involvement, secondly.
National politics are juicy, and they’re about to get even juicier with our reality show president. But, as people inhabiting small towns and cities, our impact is felt locally. Participate and donate to local grassroots organizations that represent causes you’re passionate about. Pay attention to what city, county and state leaders are up to. Know your representatives, the causes they lead, and the bills they sign in order to be constantly connected to the political process. There’s no use in showing up on election day of our next president if you’ve let no one know up to that point what issues matter to you as a voter. Columbus’ primary election is on May 2; three council member seats and three school board seats will be contested. The next midterm election is on November 6, 2018. On that day, all 435 seats in the US House of Representatives, as well as 33 Senate seats will be up for grabs. Mark the calendar.
Lastly, a greater participation in activism and protest.
The right to peaceful protest is under attack from state governments. Five states have introduced legislation that would criminalize or otherwise undermine the right to protest, including one that would make it legal to run over a protestor obstructing traffic — as long as it’s an accident. Mass mobilization is powerful, and there hasn’t been a larger display of it since the Vietnam War. It’s powerful in its message to leaders as well as fellow citizens: these are not isolated concerns, the people are watching, and we are not standing down.
Critics on the right call the Women’s Marchers “whiners” who should accept the results of the election. They’ve yet to realize it isn’t the results we protest, but the sexist, white nationalist, climate change-denying regime that threatens the nation (and the world) going forward. It isn’t the results we protest, but the means through which those results were obtained: foreign powers influencing our election. It isn’t the results we protest, but the following choices made by Trump to fill the swamp he promised to drain with unqualified, uneducated cabinet members.
This is no longer about Hilary Clinton versus Donald Trump, as many still claim. This is solely about Trump and the people he’s chosen to surround himself with. If the worldwide marches have proven anything, it’s that no matter how Trump’s press team will try to twist the truth, at least five million of us (not counting those watching from home) know better.
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Additional photos by Lauren Sega.