The Women’s March and Activism in 2017

The older I get, the greater power I seem to have to help the world; I am like a snowball – the further I am rolled the more I gain.

– Susan B. Anthony

In the early days since the inauguration, the world has overwhelmingly responded. I woke up on Saturday morning to pictures and headlines of Women’s Marches happening from every corner of the globe — hours before our Des Moines, Iowa rally was to kick off. It was so heartening to see demonstrations of solidarity from other nations.

The Women’s March drew impressive numbers: 2.9 million participants in the United States alone — the largest in U.S. history! I was struck by the 26,000+ participants at the Iowa State Capitol and how kind, accommodating and positive the crowd was. Chants of “Women’s rights are human rights!” and  “Every nasty woman here: Roar!” filled the balmy-for-January air.

Since the election, it has been hard not to feel alone, frustrated and helpless. Yesterday was an antidote to all of those negative emotions.

It’s More Than Just Feel Good, It’s Democracy in Action

Our founding forefathers knew that the road to democratic progress is filled with many types of people from different backgrounds with different belief systems. That’s why they began the Constitution with the First Amendment – freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of press, freedom of assembly, and the right to petition.

Yesterday was an impactful day that sent an overwhelming message to Donald Trump and his administration that he would be held accountable for his words, his actions and his policies. Messages from the Women’s Marches were wide-arcing as they called for human dignity and decency, respect for women’s voices and bodies, access to healthcare and reproductive rights, LGBTQ equality, Black Lives Matter, and more. All messages shared the central theme of respect and inclusion — two things that Trump has struggled to reassure all Americans that he cares about based on his past behavior and the ongoing thin-skin defensiveness and attacks that permeate his communications/Twitter feed.

There is room for everybody’s opinions at the table. Just because we don’t agree, doesn’t mean that we can’t be civil. I’ve seen a lot of comments online from friends and from strangers that say that it was “women bashing men” and a lot of copy-paste generalizations that allude to extremism and that “liberals should go get a job.” Bottom line: That’s ignorant and it’s divisive. It was not just women at the rally, it was not just liberals. It was a wide and varied group of people – women and men – standing up to a bully that has made no secret of his disdain for others not like himself or that question his motives.

Caring about our leadership is not extremism, it’s about accountability and exercising American freedoms. When my daughter reads about the 2016 election in her history classes, I want her to know that her parents did not stay home and complain.

It Doesn’t End On January 21st

“Yesterday, Donald Trump was sworn in as President. That sight is now burned into my eyes forever and I hope the same is true for you. We will not forget, we don’t want to forget. We will use that vision to make sure we fight harder, we fight tougher and we fight more passionately than ever.”

– Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts

By showing up to marches, rallies and school board meetings, calling our legislators, signing petitions and helping fundraise for causes — it keeps democratic principles in action and doesn’t allow fear to dictate progress and action.

Now, more than ever before, there are organizations that need your support, advocacy and attention. Whether its attending the Planned Parenthood fundraiser or door knocking for a city council candidate or gearing up your own campaign or mentoring at an after-school program or donating art supplies to a local elementary school — there are many ways to get involved and positively impact our communities. And yes, by showing up yesterday, and adding my presence to the 26,000+ gathered at the Iowa State Capitol, I was part of the message and the progress.

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