Standing tall for all of us
There was a lot going on this past week. Trump was sworn in as President and Will and Grace announced that it would be returning to our screens, so overall, it was a neutral week.
The day after Trump’s inauguration I participated in the Women’s March, a worldwide protest of his presidency, or rather, the statements his presidency makes about our society.
There were thousands of us in Auckland, and millions worldwide. It was big. HUGE. TERRIFIC.
Without even a single police officer, we peacefully walked down Queen St, listened to some speeches in Myers Park, then I don’t know what everyone else did, but I got a Tank juice.
All in all, it was a standard protest that showed its participants they’re not alone, and the people in power that we’re all taking notice.
Attending the march is now second on a list I’ll have ready when people ask me 20 years from now, ‘‘what did you do to stop him?’’ It’s right below ‘‘did a tweet’’. And right above, ‘‘take a nap’’ (a good sleep is vital in the resistance).
Given that attendance at the march was bigger than the inauguration, it received a lot of media attention. People praised it, others felt hopeful, some implored the public not to become complacent because of its success, some got mad at Taylor Swift for not going, some were like, leave her alone, Trump stopped listening at ‘‘Women’s’’.
There were a variety of reactions, though it’s fair to say, none were more frustrating than those claiming that it was somehow anti-democratic and hypocritical. Just a bunch of liberals having a cry because it didn’t go their way. As a liberal who cries, I can assure you, it does not look like me marching down Queen St, then getting a juice. It looks more like me alone in my bedroom, or behind sunglasses on a bus.
Columnist Mike Yardley had a lot to say about the marchers. But I’ll just address the following extract: ’’They only honour the central tenets of democratic expression when it falls into line with their ideological viewpoint, suits their cause, or the vote in question favourably goes their way …Their cloth-capped refusal to accept the legitimacy of his victory crudely illustrates how nakedly self-serving and hypocritical their adherence to democratic values really are.’’
First, the questioning of Trump’s legitimacy as president. It’s not about disappointment that he’s been elected. It’s about multiple intelligence agencies confirming that Russia actively tried to interfere with the election outcome. Questioning his legitimacy is about protecting the integrity of the democratic system.
Second, this article, or opinion, exhibits a fundamental misunderstanding of democracy.
The notion that protest about ideological disagreements doesn’t honour the ‘‘central tenets’’ of democracy is only a true if by ‘‘democracy’’ he actually meant, ‘‘autocracy’’, ‘‘dictatorship’’ or ‘‘[insert joke here because the rule of three is important]’’.
A true, rigorous, democracy is not one where it’s participants only voice their opinion every three to four years with a vote.
It’s not one where citizens are required to just sit quietly and accept all policy as it is handed down.
A democracy, at its best, is one where ideas are exchanged often and peacefully. It’s one where people fight and debate and have their voices heard constantly.
The march was people engaging in democracy in the way that the system intended. To be heard and to be seen.
Finally, to call it ‘‘nakedly selfserving’’ is true. I can’t deny that part of the reason I marched, wasn’t only for other people. It was also for me. So in that respect, we agree.
To those of you who counter that Trump and all his supporters are just exercising their right to be heard, I would agree. You’re right. But like every right we’re afforded, it comes with limitations, and I would consider engaging in, or encouraging hate speech, to be chief among them.
Though I suspect the people this applies to stopped reading at ‘‘you’re right.’’
In 20 years, I can tell my children: I too did something to stop The Donald.