Messages from the President
January 23, 2017: Post-March Message
Posted on January 23, 2017 at 12:00 AM
It is the day after the Women’s March on Washington (WMW). Two days after the Inauguration of an unpopular president whose words and actions and cabinet picks have galvanized a vast majority of the nation. Especially women. Not only in this country but across the world. The call to action by women came days after the election results. A retired woman in Hawaii floated the idea of a Million-Woman-March. And it went viral. Four enterprising young women took that idea and ran with it. With a less than two-month lead time, grass-roots community organizing resulted in a stunning success. Over 1.2 million women rallied and marched in our nation’s capital on January 21. Worldwide the number is closer to 5 million. These results have broken all previous records and will be entered in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Why was this March so successful? The answer is complex. The fear of a conservative takeover of the laws of this country is palpable and very real. Climate change and environmental issues are under attack. Women’s right to choose is threatened. As Dani Rodrick wrote in the New York Times: “The real danger Mr. Trump poses is the undermining of our politics — the norms that sustain our liberal democracies. His campaign was based on a divisive politics of identity. Ideals of equity, equal rights, diversity and inclusion were submerged under the weight of a rhetoric that raised racial and ethnic tensions and inflamed passions against imagined enemies — Mexican immigrants, Chinese exporters, Muslim refugees.”
Not only are we looking at the possibility of the dissolution of checks and balances, of regulations either being slackened or removed, ethics laws being defanged but we feel that rule of law is seriously threatened. Civil discourse has flown out of the window. The Affordable Care Act is in serious jeopardy, with a real danger of tens of millions of people losing healthcare benefits. And Mr. Trump is unlikely to be able to fulfill his promise to raise the living standards of his base. He may have to resort to an intensified form of the identity politics that he exploited so successfully during his presidential campaign, leading to a future where ethnic and racial cleavages grow wider.
And so what do we do now? The March is over. It is now time for action. Hundreds of progressive organizations are gearing up to face this challenge. The mantra: March Today, Lobby Tomorrow is resonating across the country. Advocacy, training and civic engagement are the new buzz-words. During the three days leading up to the March we provided workshops on climate change, human rights and Islamophobia, Middle East policy and criminal justice reform. We are now teaming up with different grass-roots organizations to effect policy change through Congress and the Administration. We have initiated a conversation with the organizers of the March to harness the enthusiasm and commitment of their legions of supporters to lobby Congress.
Before we come up with a comprehensive and specific plan in concert with other progressive partners, we all agree on one thing. Each one of us, you and me, need to CALL the following number each day: 202-224-3121. It connects to a Congressional office where you will instantly be redirected to the congressman’s office you want to reach. Who should you call and about what? Each day you can go to the Friends Committee on National Legislation’s website (fcnl.org). Look under “Act Online” to find out which congressional office to target on the issue of the day. The laws being debated, the issues you are passionate about, the congressman or senator you want to influence, all that information will be readily available.
This is a historic moment for action and activism. Let’s move together in concert. And make history again.