If you follow me on Facebook then you know I post a lot. Too much for some. I get that. But Saturday was special.
As an active FB user I notice the responses (or lack thereof) that my posts get. In 10 years on the medium, I have never seen a response like I did on Saturday as a result of the #WomensMarch. By far the most likes, reactions, replies, reposts, etc. that I have ever received. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a chef and a politician, so I have a healthy ego, but even I know that the reason for this huge reaction has nothing to do with me. It ain’t the messenger, it’s the message.
I am old enough to remember the protests against the war in Viet Nam. The first protest I ever saw live was in DC in 1974, a large crowd outside the Soviet embassy shouting “Freedom for Ukraine.” (Guess we might see that again). The biggest I ever participated in was the protest against the Iraq war. Until today.
MSNBC reported that there were Women's March events in all 50 states, every nation in Europe, 16 African nations, 8 South American nations, 9 Asian nations, and 4 middle-eastern nations including Iraq and Saudi Arabia. 637 protests around the world. Saturday evening I posted a public photo album with images from 85 (and more all the time) of those marches. It includes a photo from Twitter of #WomensMarchAntarctica. #Srsly.
All with ZERO violence, BTW.
With a little over four decades of political activism under my belt, I know a movement when I see one, and this is a movement. And the lesson of this movement, just like the lesson of the “tea party” movement, is #RiseUp. And the way you do that is to either run for office yourself or help someone else run for office. Especially if you are a woman, or a person of color, or a member of any oppressed minority. Government has enough fat old white men like me, progressive or not.
Here in Johnson County, there are 52 seats being voted on this year. Not 2018, but 2017. The same is true in 3000+ counties around the country. These are city councils and school boards and mayorships and sometimes even higher office. This is how progressives take control of the Democratic party, and how the party builds its bench. And we need you.
If you really can’t run for office, if you really can’t help someone else do so, can you use a telephone? Call your representatives and senators. American government, at every level, runs on squeaky wheels. The best way to get your voice heard is to call. Not once, not twice, but often, and about every issue you care about. It truly does make a difference. I have them all saved in my contacts on my cell phone, and I call at least one every day on my commute (hands free, of course!). You can find all the contact info you need here.
Facebook, and social media in general, has changed the world. Love it or hate it, it has. When I ran for office last year, every advisor I spoke with said social media does not win elections. I think both my election, and Donald Trump’s, prove that that is no longer true. So do today’s marches. The march in Iowa City started with a Facebook post. The originator said she thought it would be her and a few of her friends. It was, my guess, about 2-3 thousand. Women’s March, the whole movement, started with a Facebook post by a grandmother in Hawaii to a Facebook group called “Pantsuit Nation. And you saw On Saturday the difference it made. Millions around the world.
My feed was clogged with posts of those marches. Yours probably was too. People sharing their passion for direct democratic action was an inspiring sight to see. Our task now is to translate that passion into lasting impact, because merely posting and reposting ain't gonna cut it. As President Obama said, "grab a clipboard!"
Americans have an unfortunate tendency not to see danger until it strikes. It happened at Pearl Harbor, it happened on 9/11, and it happened on November 8th, 2016. The right wing in this country has no idea what kind of a response it has invited. But it is about to find out.