As you all know, I shall be attending the Women’s March in Washington DC this Saturday, the day after the Inauguration. Rain is predicted for the Inauguration, but our march will have partly sunny weather. A sign? If a lightning bolt comes out of the rainy sky and kills Trump and whichever Supreme Court justice is administering the oath, that will be a sign. Should that happen, I will forego my lifelong atheism and start attending mass.
From time to time, I check in with the official webpage of the march to see what’s up. So-called Sister Marches will be held around the nation. At last count, 386 Sister Marches are scheduled, and an “estimated” 735,070 people have said they will attend one or another of them [what it means to estimate something to the fifth place, I do not know.] The Mother March, which I shall attend, now predicts roughly 200,000 attendees, so we are closing in on one million nationally.
This is huge, and this morning, as I walked, I ran over in my mind the various ways in which these marches will matter. Let me remind you, by the way, of my oft-repeated observation that political change is like a landslide, not like brain surgery. This does not yet qualify as a landslide, but it will certainly alter the hillside a bit.
The first and most obvious significance of the march will be its size relative to the crowd at the inauguration. Crowd sizes are notoriously difficult to estimate, but if the nation-wide marches equal or surpass the Inauguration crowd, that will be the top story on television, and it will contribute to the delegitimation of Trump. It doesn’t matter who marches. I guarantee that some of them will be people who voted for Trump, and some will probably be people who wandered in thinking it was a crowd going to a football game. It does not matter. It will be a thing, an event, one more uprooted tree rolling down the hillside.
The second importance of the marches will be their effect on already elected officials. That many people marching in your district will have an impact. Once again, it does not matter very much which slogans and signs the marchers carry. Politics is a blunt instrument, rather like playing the piano with mittens on. If a Representative has a big march in his or district, it will have an effect. In Republican districts, it might even encourage a potential candidate to run for office.
And finally, the third and biggest significance of these marches is that they are recruiting tools for political action. All across the country, they will put people in touch with one another who want to mobilize on the left. Lists will be created, relationships established, ideas shared.
As for me, I will be the old guy lingering on the fringes of the crowd, cheering from time to time and trying to take a few pictures with his cellphone.
I shall report when I get home.