I had a couple other columns I was working on – one about the Troy Emergency Response Team and the other about the Schenectady mayor – but the fantastic rally (rallies) on Saturday, Jan. 20 made anyone not living under a rock stand up and pay attention.
We all saw the inauguration of Pres. Donald Trump, and the vandals calling themselves protestors that followed. And we all knew there was a rally slated for the following day. But the number of marchers is what surprised me. Actually it was a number of rallies around the world, with the mother (no pun intended) of all rallies held in Washington D.C. that drew anywhere from 500,000 to 750,000 people, mainly women.
First, let me say I love protests, and civil disobedience, and people taking a stand against something or someone in government, or, on rarer occasions, for something or someone in government.
So, Saturday was a great day as women – and men – took to the streets across the country in protest.
One of my first thoughts after “wow, look at all those people,” is what are they protesting?
There is, of course, the obvious – they don’t like Trump. Lots of people, men and women, don’t like Trump. And lots of people voted for his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Actually, as we know, more voted for Hillary than Trump.
But, according to the New York Times, there were a bunch of women who voted for Trump too. More white women, 53 percent, voted for Trump than Hillary. Black women overwhelmingly favored Clinton, 94 percent, as did Latina women, 68 percent.
So why the angst now? Yes, it was a day after he was sworn in and officially became the 45th president. But, a march a day late could hardly do anything about that, regardless of how many people took to the streets.
Turns out, there is more than a profound dislike of our next president at the center of what the march was about. There is even a four-page document entitled “Guiding Vision and Definition of Principles” and the message organizers hoped to send.
The document includes a bunch of flowery language about how women should be allowed to “care for and nurture themselves and their families, however they are formed, in safe and healthy environments free from structural impediments.”
I’m not entirely sure what all that means, or the government’s role in it, but it does sound nice.
The position paper, for lack of a better way to describe it, also states that:
-It is “our moral imperative to dismantle the gender and racial inequalities within the criminal justice system.”
-A belief in reproductive freedom or “open access to safe, legal, affordable abortion and birth control for all people, regardless of income, location or education.”
-Gender Justice, which is the freeing “ourselves and our society from the institution of awarding power, agency and resources disproportionately to masculinity to the exclusion of others.”
-The obligation to “uplift, expand and protect the rights of our gay, lesbian, bi, queer, trans, two-spirit or gender non-conforming brothers, sisters and siblings.”
-The “rights, dignity and fair treatment of all unpaid and paid caregivers.”
-All “undocumented and migrant workers must be included in our labor protections and we stand in full solidarity with the sex workers’ rights movement. We recognize that exploitation for sex and labor in all forms is a violation of human rights.”
-That “immigration reform must establish a roadmap to citizenship.”
I wonder how many women, and men, who turned out Saturday read the four-page position paper. And how many just turned out because they didn’t like Trump and didn’t want to see our next president grabbing anything he shouldn’t while in office.
Actually, most of the stuff in the paper didn’t even directly deal with anything Trump did or wants to do. There are some obvious things related to immigration, and his promise to build a wall. And there is, of course, much interest in who he will appoint to the Supreme Court and the possible threats to abortion rights. But, if he follows through with his word and appoints a strict Constitutionalist to the court, then legalities surrounding abortion at worst could – and I stress could – go back to the states.
Most of what the march was about, according to the position paper, could apply to the previous president, or any president in the past 100 or so years. Despite the signs and rhetoric, it really didn’t have anything to do with Trump.
Unlike some of the more narrow-minded, I’m willing to give Trump a chance. Like it or not, he is our president and has been our president for less than a week. That doesn’t mean let him do whatever he wants. We should, by all means, scrutinize everything he does. It means giving him a chance to do something.
I didn’t vote for him in November. I voted for what’s his name – the guy who climbed Mt. Everest. I would have voted for Bernie if Hillary didn’t steal the primary.
But Trump won and he is our president.
I read something on Facebook that said, “I hope he does a well enough job that I vote for him in four years.”
To wish for anything else is like hoping the pilot of your plane crashes and burns.
Jim Franco can be reached at 518-878-1000 or at firstname.lastname@example.org