I spent most of today on two trains, so I’ve seen only social media posts about the women’s marches in Washington and all across the country. (I say “women’s” because issues that pertain to them were why women and men and kids were out today.)
The enthusiasm in Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and in many other places appeared palpable. Certainly the small groups that I passed this morning around Union Station in Washington were ready.
If one word best described the people I encountered, then excited would be it. And those emotions were especially noteworthy because excited would not be the word I’d use to describe the crowd at the inauguration. I think surprise best defined what I saw around me on Friday.
(And as an aside, White House press secretary Sean Spicer really blew it today when he suggested the crowd yesterday topped that for the 2009 inauguration of Barack Obama. No, Mr. Spicer, the fact is the numbers aren’t close, no matter how you choose to count them. It’s clear the president and his administration want to fight the mainstream media at every turn.)
As Saturday winds down and people who traveled significant distances to their march return home, an important question needs to be asked: What will you do next?
If you marched today but then don’t remain politically active, what have you done?
If you marched today but then don’t hold politicians accountable, what have you done?
If you marched today but then don’t show up on Election Day, what have you done?
I suppose that more people than ever before on a single day rallied today throughout the United States. For sake of argument, let’s say the total figure turns out to be 2.5 million adults. (Again, I was traveling all day, so I’m throwing a number out there to further this conversation; I am NOT suggesting that will be the actual number.)
Those 2.5 million people have an opportunity to turn a one-day event into a sustained movement. What that movement will be cannot be determined at this point. Nor should it be.
But that movement cannot happen if people upload their pictures from today of smiling, happy and dedicated men and women and do nothing more.
The onus is on each person to decide what he or she can do. Some will be leaders, so to speak, while others will be foot soldiers, so to speak. Some eventually will run for political office; others will be content organizing political events in their communities. Some will seek jobs that advocate for women; others will volunteer their time once a month at a shelter.
What each person does shouldn’t be deemed more or less important than someone else’s actions.
But marching today and then doing nothing to follow it up will undermine whatever movement might follow.
So, what will you do next?