Madison is just the politest city in the world when it comes to protests.
We took the girls to the protests over Governor Teabagger’s (a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries) evisceration of the state back in 2011, and despite all the hot air from right-wingers claiming it was some kind of war zone, the plain and simple fact of the matter was that I’ve been in rowdier grocery lines. There were people walking around carrying trash bags for you to put your paper cups in so the place would stay clean. Senator Herb Kohl – who is maybe five feet tall – showed up without any sort of entourage whatsoever and mingled with us. It was far more civilized than the cold-hearted mayhem happening inside the legislative chambers.
So we weren’t particularly worried about the Women’s March that we went to this afternoon.
For those of you living under rocks, the fact that Donald Trump is now The Only President We’ve Got has caused serious consternation among people with more than seven working brain cells. He’s a racketeer who has been sued more than a thousand times for everything from stiffing contractors to the open racism he practiced as a landlord. He is currently in violation of Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution and would have already been impeached if the Republican Party cared for anything other than maintaining their black-hearted grip on power. And he is a sexual predator, something he seems inordinately proud of.
“Grab ‘em by the pussy” is really not something you want to hear from a presidential candidate, but it was apparently okay to the millions of so-called Christians who have wearied my ears and eyes with their claims that he is some kind of moral exemplar for our fallen times.
This tells you all you need to know about the morality of such people.
Kim spent much of the week knitting a “pussy hat” – the pink hats with cat ears that became the symbol of this particular protest. The girls, being now teenagers and not particularly ambulatory on weekend mornings unless absolutely required to be so, decided to sit this one out, so this morning it was just me and Kim headed to Madison to meet our friends Heidi and Travis and do our part for participatory democracy.
Yes, men were allowed. As the sign says, “Men of quality support equality.”
And to be blunt, any male (you can’t really call them a man) who tries to grab my daughters the way Trump advises without their express consent will have their hand removed at the shoulder and then returned to them through the nearest convenient orifice.
I think that message is worth marching for, just on its own.
We gathered at the Library Mall on the UW Madison campus, and waited for the official start of the event while more and more people filtered in. You really can’t tell how many people show up to these things when you’re inside them – visibility is rather limited – but the local news has since pegged it at around 75,000. Not as big as the 2011 protests, but still bigger than any city I’ve lived in since 1993 and nearly a third of the size of Kommissar Trump’s inauguration crowd.
Seriously, watching that clueless vulgarian try to tap dance around the fact that his inauguration was so poorly attended has been the funniest bit of political comedy I’ve seen in weeks.
We stood there for about an hour, on a grey, drizzly, unseasonably warm day, listening to the chants that would periodically emerge from the crowd and reading the signs. There were some pretty clever signs (my favorites being “I would have preferred an actual swamp” and “Free Melania!”). The crowd was friendly and talkative – I spent a good quarter hour chatting with a guy who washed up next to me in one of those eddies that crowds have – and eventually we were off.
Crowds that big don’t move quickly. It probably took half an hour for us even to begin our trek up toward the Capitol, and then we moved at a fairly slow shuffle for a while until the crowd thinned out enough to let us walk.
It was quite a scene. This is what democracy looks like.
We got up to the Capitol and decided that we were old and hungry and needed lunch, so having done our bit for democracy we headed back to our car and drove off to find some food. It was a lovely meal.
I have no illusions as to what the results of this march – or any of the more than 600 other similar marches across the United States involving millions of American citizens and other marches all over the globe (including Antarctica, surprisingly enough) – will be. The modern Republican Party has made it very clear that it has no particular interest in serving anyone other than its plutocratic masters, a fact which (credit where due) Donald Trump has not bothered to hide the way that Governor Teabagger (a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries) tries to do. Look at his cabinet, and be awed at the sheer brazen declaration of this fact.
There will be no policy changes, not yet. There will be no sudden realization that maybe if millions of people across the nation and the world consider your actions problematic enough to protest publicly you might want to reconsider.
But we march anyway.
We march to send a message to those in power, to make sure that our voices are heard. It’s a fairly simple message, really.
We outnumber you.
We are coming.
You are on the wrong side of history, morality, and American values.
We will see you fail.
We will make sure you are forgotten.