Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that on Jan. 21, the day after the presidential inauguration, protest marches are taking place in Washington, D.C., and all over the country. I’ve been getting questions from friends — progressives, activists, feminists — about why they should bother. The election is over; what’s the point of protesting it? Wouldn’t it be better to save the money from a flight to D.C. and send it to Planned Parenthood?
The short answer is no, it would not. Here are the reasons you should march with us:
1. To go on record.
What is the rest of the world thinking of us right now? That the United States is a racist country that just committed political suicide.
It’s time to send a message to the world — and to history — that Donald Trump does not speak for all of us. That America’s diversity is its strength. That we will not stand for the insults and threats made against women, immigrants, Muslims, LGBT folks, black and brown people and the disabled. That we will fight Trump’s bigotry every day.
2. Because it will feel amazing.
You have felt sad and maybe a little anxious since the election. You don’t understand why half of your fellow citizens elected an unqualified bigot. You commiserate with friends at holiday gatherings, and that makes the suffering a little better. But only a little.
Imagine being surrounded by more than 200,000 people who share your pain and are willing to stand up and protest the hatred and violence. It infuses you with energy to push forward into an uncertain future. If you’ve never protested before, this is enough reason alone to do it. The feeling is nothing short of ecstatic, and it will help you feel good about America again, perhaps for the first time in months.
3. To be a part of history.
Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington in August 1963. This march was the seminal event of the civil rights movement; 250,000 people gathered that day to demand equality and justice. It was nine years before I was born, and I wish I could have been there.
This march is one of those moments in history that you will regret missing. This protest will be the first of many, the beginning of a golden age of progressive activism. And you will have been there. How cool is that?
4. To leave your comfort zone.
Actress Carrie Fisher once said, “Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”
Princess Leia was right: Get out of your comfort zone. Put your body in unfamiliar places. If ever there was a time to be fearless, it is now.
Experiencing the march in person will make you a better person. It will stretch your limits and help you make friendships and connections that you can’t even anticipate. Think of the stories you will be able to tell. Because you were actually there.
5. Because you didn’t do enough before the election.
You donated to Bernie or Hillary. You wrote incredulous posts on Facebook and Twitter about how horrific a Trump presidency would be. Maybe you made a few phone calls. You probably didn’t fly to a swing state. (But if you did, thank you!)
And I’ll bet you wish you did more. I know I do. After Trump won, millions of us were kicking ourselves for not working harder.
One reason why Trump won is because too many of us hid behind our laptops and iPhones, and too few of us actually hit the streets. This is our chance to make up for this mistake and show up.
6. Because we can’t march for you.
Imagine turning on the television on Jan. 21 and seeing a small, pathetic gathering of people on the National Mall.
Wouldn’t that say something about the state of our democracy? Yes, it would. Would you regret not going? Damn straight. Come to the march.
What you can do:
Call your friends who live near Washington, D.C., and ask if you can stay with them. Then, book a flight. The D.C. march begins at 10 a.m. EST on Saturday, Jan. 21, at Independence Avenue and Third Street, SW.
If you can’t make it to D.C., join the corresponding marches in San Francisco and Oakland. The Oakland march starts at 10 a.m. PST, and starts at 9th and Madison streets. The San Francisco march begins at 4 p.m. PST and begins at Civic Center.
See you there.
Alix Rosenthal is a municipal attorney, nasty woman and progressive activist who mentors and trains women to run for political office. She can be found on Twitter at @alixro and her blog is at www.votealix.com.