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Women’s March Draws Record Crowds: So Now What?

womens-march

Yesterday’s Women’s March rallies drew massive crowds around the world, far exceeding any reasonable expectations. Aside from understandable outrage and trepidation about the presidency of Donald Trump, who had been inaugurated the day before, there seemed to be no unifying agenda. And, as many commentators have observed, achieving results will require continued, focused action in the future.

Julia Ioffe makes a particularly strong version of that argument:

The people were so cheerful and happy to be with one another, forgetting the cold and enjoying what often seemed less like a protest and more like a block party. There were families there, with grandmas in wheelchairs and babies in strollers. They were ecstatic and in disbelief at the number of people. The Washington Post reported that the organizers put the attendance at up to half a million. They had hoped for less than half that.

It was surreal how similar this all felt, and my Russian friends on social media confirmed it: “Totally Bolotnaya,” one of them wrote. Bolotnaya is the square in the center of Moscow, right across the river from the Kremlin, where on December 10, 2011 around 50,000 people came out to protest fraudulent parliamentary elections. They had expected 3,000 and were stunned by their success. It was cold and gray that day, too, and the feeling of being in that joyous crowd was unforgettable, which is why I remembered it so vividly today. It is the giddiness of watching people vent their political frustrations with a sense of humor and good cheer, and the euphoria of observing people discover that they are not alone, that there are thousands and thousands of people just like them.

Women marching today wore pink “pussy hats” and carried signs that said “This pussy grabs back,” echoing the 2005 Access Hollywood tape in which now-President Trump said of women that he could “grab them by the pussy” because “when you’re a star, they let you do it.” The Russian protesters would also reappropriate their leader’s insults. When Putin finally commented on the protestors and the white ribbons they wore on their lapels, he said he thought they had been condoms. So at the next march, protestors blew up condoms and floated them like balloons over the crowd. When I saw a man marching down Pennsylvania Avenue on Saturday with a sign that said “There are more of us,” I remembered the bright yellow cover of an opposition magazine that Muscovites used as posters for their rally of dissent: “There are more of us than it seems.”

There were, sure, and there seemed to be a lot more people marching against Trump than came out for his inauguration the day before, but it seemed like the equivalent of winning the popular vote by about 3 million and losing the Electoral College. Sure, there were a lot of them and one of him, but he’s the one in the White House, signing executive orders while they were outside under a dour sky.

If riots are the voice of the unheard, then protests are, too. It’s a notion that’s both romantic and accurate: People on the street have a voice, and it is often unheard even then. And sometimes it’s heard in exactly the wrong way. Those protests in Moscow grew in size as the winter changed into spring and spring became summer. Putin was able to lie about the crowd sizes reported in the media, like Trump, and was still able to easily win a third term in the Kremlin. The opposition, the unheard with their witty posters in the streets, began to fracture and bicker, like the organizers of today’s event, and there was no clear leader or agenda. After a May protest was violently dispersed by police, who plucked them from metros and cafes, the opposition was despondent: They felt they had come out rallied—once, twice, five times—and had achieved nothing.

That wasn’t really true. They had changed Putin, just not in the way they had hoped to. He went from being a non-ideological, pragmatic kleptocrat to a revanchist, nationalist neo-tsar. He passed laws making it harder to protest, to express dissent online, to inhabit one’s sexuality. And after similar protests sprung up in Kiev and helped overthrow the Ukrainian government two years later, he invaded the country, in part to show his citizens that they should stay unheard. And when his agents, masked as rioters, protested in the country’s east, they didn’t bring witty posters and sandwiches; they seized government buildings and the television towers, much like Bolshevik revolutionaries had made a beeline for the telegraph posts in 1917.

Protests are a tricky thing, and America isn’t Russia. Protests can bring change, like Black Lives Matter did, and they can topple governments, as they did in Egypt. But in the case of the former, the protests became a movement that reached off the streets and into the presidential race, in part because there was a White House and Justice Department willing to take their concerns seriously. In the case of the latter, there was a political movement—the Muslim Brotherhood—that had been preparing for the moment for decades. Even those cases have proved fleeting: The Muslim Brotherhood took its own authoritarian turn after gaining power in democratic elections, and along with the Tahrir Square movement has since been crushed by the revanche of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Black Lives Matter, vilified by the Republican Party and the Trump campaign, will now potentially face a Justice Department headed by an Alabaman who has been accused of going after black civil rights activists. Both may end up back where they started: on the streets and unheard.

Talking to the protesters in Washington today, it was hard not to hear the echoes of the weakness of the Moscow protests five years ago: a vague, unstructured cause; too much diversity of purpose; no real political path forward; and the real potential for the meaning of the day to melt into self-congratulatory complacency. A Los Angeles woman showing me photos of the march afterward wondered, “Where was everyone before? We didn’t do enough.” Rallying and making funny signs is easy; winning real power in American politics is not.

There’s much more at the link, but you get the idea.

Still, mass movements almost by definition have multiple internal motivations. Even the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s had multiple viewpoints, with Malcolm X having a decidedly different agenda than Martin Luther King. There, though, the grievances were more particular, aimed at ending the Jim Crow regime that had been in place for nearly a century.

The Women’s March, at least the DC incarnation, had a more diffuse rationale. Their mission statement, in its entirety:

The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us – immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault – and our communities are hurting and scared. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.

In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.

We support the advocacy and resistance movements that reflect our multiple and intersecting identities. We call on all defenders of human rights to join us. This march is the first step towards unifying our communities, grounded in new relationships, to create change from the grassroots level up. We will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society. We work peacefully while recognizing there is no true peace without justice and equity for all.

At present, then, the movement is motivated by emotion:  they’re “hurting and scared.”  The hurt, I think, is a function of their country–including a not insignificant number of women–voting in a man who seems so hostile to women. And it’s a hurt that was amplified by the fact that Trump came to office defeating a woman who was very much an ally of their cause and who was so expected to win. The fear is more vague but hardly unreasonable. There’s every reason to think a President Trump will work to roll back hard-won progress.

It strikes me, then, that the Women’s March is quite analogous to the Tea Party movement that sprung up in reaction to the Obama presidency and his initial steps in addressing the Great Recession. Ideologically and culturally, they’re almost mirror images of one another. (Although, amusingly, they’re both almost entirely populated by white people.)

While the Tea Party had a few policy grievances, it was almost entirely bound by emotion. I don’t know that the hurting was as intense, as Obama was long expected to defeat John McCain. But the election of a black man with a foreign-sounding name was a rather jarring passing of a demographic torch. The fear that their culture was under attack, though, was real. Obama was, of course, a much less bombastic and much more respectful voice that Trump’s. But, certainly, there were enough instances during the campaign where he signaled hostility to their way of life. Most famously—and ironically, since he was demonstrating empathy rather than antipathy—there was the much-quoted line saying “they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” (Which turned out to be quite prescient; it was the basis for the Trump victory.)

The Tea Party never mobilized a single protest march anywhere near what we saw yesterday. But it spawned demonstration after demonstration. More importantly, it organized politically, putting forth candidates that defeated scores of Establishment Republicans in the primaries and ultimately won a wave election in the 2010 midterms. While I’d argue—and, indeed, did—that their extreme views likely cost them the Senate that year and the White House in 2012, they were undeniably successful. And while they faded away as a separate movement, they essentially took over the GOP, nominating in Trump a candidate who was a rejection of a large chunk of the Republican agenda from Reagan onward.

It’s not inconceivable that the Women’s March will do the same thing on the Democratic side of the aisle. Trump has given every indication in his first two days in office that he’s going to govern in the same contentious, irritating way that he campaigned. It won’t be difficult, at all, for the movement to remain galvanized. The challenge will be in putting forth an actual policy agenda, finding and funding candidates to champion it, and then getting them elected.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Pete says:

    And it’s a hurt that was amplified by the fact that Trump came to office defeating a woman who was very much an ally of their cause and who was so expected to win.

    I wonder if all these supporters of Mrs. Clinton are aware of her complicity in waging war. Is their cause more important than the slaughter of women and children by our drones and the destabilizing foreign policy initiatives of neocons like Mrs. Clinton? And if Trump is such a threat to women, what was Bill Clinton? I’m not sure I can grasp the irony in all this. See the following from Mike Shedlock:

    Final Comments

    For starters, I am a strong supporter of Planned Parenthood and have been for years. I donate money to the cause every year.

    And lest anyone get the wrong idea, I am not a huge Trump fan. I voted for him despite his obvious sexism.

    Why? Because I am extremely anti-war, and Hillary along with Senator John McCain, never met a war they did not like.

    Hillary supported the war in Iraq and US drone policy. The neocons were all comfortable with Hillary. They openly said so.

    The most anti-human policy on the planet is US drone policy. Our drone policy alone has killed thousands of innocent men, women, and children.

    Hillary was the architect of a disastrous campaign in Libya bragging in regards to Muammar Gaddafi “we came, we saw, he died”.

    Now the country is in a state of civil war. Hillary wanted a no-fly zone over Syria rising confrontation with Russia. How nuts is that?

    People claim, likely accurately, “we don’t know what Trump will do”. I agree. But we likely do know what Hillary would have done: lead the country into more wars.

    All the people who don’t understand how women could possibly vote for Trump, need to reflect on the brutal, anti-male, anti-female warmongering candidate that Hillary was.

    Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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  2. Mikey says:

    This historic set of marches is a tremendous start, but just a start. It has let the Trump administration know it’s been put on notice. But that’s not nearly enough. Action is necessary. So, a couple suggestions for “so now what?”

    Right away, get involved in the same way the Tea Party did with success:
    https://www.indivisibleguide.com/web

    Getting ready for 2018, do you live in a safely “blue” district? Go here and find the nearest narrowly-“red” swing district and sign up to help un-elect the Republican:
    https://swingleft.org

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  3. Mikey says:

    @Pete: If you voted for Trump because you’re anti-war, you’re in for a serious disappointment, buddy.

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  4. Facebones says:

    Part of the reason the Tea Party protests were effective, despite their relatively small size, was non stop media coverage. Fox and CNBC were putting them on 24/7. In contrast, the anti-war marches in 2002 which had millions of people around the globe, were almost entirely ignored.

    The women’s marches got a lot of coverage because crowds exceeded all expectations. Plus lots of chances to contrast the passion and crowd size faith Friday’s inauguration.

    I’d like to think that the media is learning after how badly they got played in the campaign. A few even just called Trump and Spicer liars for blatantly lying about his tiny inauguration crowds. We’ll see.

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  5. Terrye Cravens says:

    @Pete: The Clintons are both more decent people than Trump.Just look at his behavior yesterday at the CIA and Spicer’s hissy fit of a press conference. Embarrassing.

    I am not a Democrat, but I did not and could not vote for Trump. This need that Trump supporters have to avoid his bad behavior by talking about Bill Clinton is just pathetic. Trump is a lying, thieving, scum bag womanizer. And he is proud of it.

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  6. Terrye Cravens says:

    There was more good cheer and diversity in those large protests yesterday than there was in Trump’s teeny weeny inaugural audience with him shaking his fists and ranting about American carnage.

    Will this go anywhere? We shall see, but I think the reaction we saw from Trump and his people sends a message that they themselves are worried.

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  7. Terrye Cravens says:

    @Mikey: Yes, he is. Trump is talking about going into Iraq and taking that oil. I doubt if they will just hand it over. Would Trump kill a bunch of people just to steal their oil? Hell yes.

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  8. Senyordave says:

    We should also remember Trump’s comments n torture. He’s for it, only he wants more of it and much more drastic versions. I think Trump is a sociopath, totally incapable of empathy. Now that he is POTUS he is very dangerous. The Spicer conference is incredibly telling. Donald had a temper tantrum and ordered Spicer to save his reputation. I’m just surprised Spicer wasn’t smart enough to talk in generalities. In 2009 Obama’s inauguration was estimated at 1.8 million people. Obviously Trump’s was only a fraction of that, yet Spicer specifically said Trump’s the most attended kin person. They even lied about Washington Metro usage, which is easily verified because the Metro posts daily usage figures online.

    Trump in the WH is dangerous for this country.

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  9. Mikey says:

    @Senyordave: What’s the point of such lame, easily-checked lies?

    It’s to de-legitimize the free press and set Trump up to his followers as the only source of truth.

    This is, indeed, dangerous.

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  10. Pch101 says:

    @Pete:

    Thanks for the reminder that boosters of libertarian politics and Austrian economics don’t deserve to be taken seriously.

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  11. Pch101 says:

    (The Tea Party) essentially took over the GOP, nominating in Trump a candidate who was a rejection of a large chunk of the Republican agenda from Reagan onward.

    The Tea Party is simply the GOP on steroids, but for its opposition to free trade and lack of devotion to major corporate interests.

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  12. wr says:

    @Mikey: “If you voted for Trump because you’re anti-war, you’re in for a serious disappointment, buddy.”

    If he actually did vote for Trump because he’s anti-war — instead of simply trolling — then he will never be disappointed, because he is too stupid to see what’s in front of him. Trump will drop bombs all over the Middle East and announce that we are “waging peace” and morons like this guy will say “See? He’s for peace!”

    Again, that is if he’s for real. But even someone as cynical as I has trouble believing anyone like this actually exists.

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  13. wr says:

    @Mikey: “It’s to de-legitimize the free press and set Trump up to his followers as the only source of truth.”

    This is indeed the purpose, but I have a feeling it’s going to backfire hard and fast. Sure, Trump’s True Believers will swallow anything — and I did love the administration’s first claim that there were millions of people for his inauguration, but the place looked empty because they were all huddling together — but that’s maybe the same 27% who still believe we invaded Iraq because they had WMD. An awful lot of Trump voters were throwing the dice, opting for the possiblity of something good instead of a Clinton administration they knew they didn’t want. The more Trump throws tantrums and demand the world accept his obvious, pathetic, self-serving lies, the more of them will begin to peel away.

    There was no real problem in having a small inauguration crowd — none of his followers would hold that against him. But to have that crowd and insist it was the biggest in history when everyone can see the photographic record… and then to insist that there’s a conspiracy to doctor the photographs…. that’s going to make people start looking at him differently…

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  14. Pch101 says:

    @Mikey:

    The GOP has been attacking the mainstream media and making up its own “facts” for decades.

    This began with Reagan, who lambasted the supposed “liberal media” (and liberalism in general). His elimination of the fairness doctrine from broadcasting created right-wing talk radio.

    Trump didn’t invent this crap, he inherited it.

    The lies not only don’t hurt the GOP, but they appeal to their base. They can’t handle the truth, never could, never will.

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  15. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Pete: You do realize that every 1st world country on the planet has drones that are capable of delivering ordinances and policy to use that technology in support of their national defense right? I guess we should let terrorists adapt and not adapt ourselves because the means of said adaptation scare liberals.

    Tell me–what is an acceptable number of Paris & Brussels style attacks you think are appropriate for Americans because you don’t like the method we use to kill the people planning, equipping, and training the people that execute them? 2 a year? 3?

    Here’s a thought: maybe we should swear off violence of any sort because the risk of collateral damage as a result of our actions are more important than people getting shot up here. Yep, the innocent people in the middle east who are just trying to survive the Jihadi $hit show deserve a future of continual fear of car bombs and machine gun attacks because blown up by Jihadist. Are they blowing their fellow Arabs up because of US policy too? Conservatives and Liberals are both idiots–but a liberal who voted for Trump is in a league of stupid all by themselves.

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  16. Barry says:

    James: “It strikes me, then, that the Women’s March is quite analogous to the Tea Party movement that sprung up in reaction to the Obama presidency and his initial steps in addressing the Great Recession. Ideologically and culturally, they’re almost mirror images of one another. (Although, amusingly, they’re both almost entirely populated by white people.)”

    The Tea Party was a bunch of people who supported Dubya’s sh*t, and then we’re shocked!, shocked, I tell you! At losing an election to a man far better than any and all of them.

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  17. James Joyner says:

    @Barry: The Tea Party was as much an insurrection against the Republican Establishment as it was an anti-Obama movement. They were fed up with Bush and McCain, both of whom they considered RINOs. They were tired of government getting bigger rather than smaller under Republican administrations. And they were pissed at government bailouts for big banks as well as those who’d leveraged themselves into houses they couldn’t afford.

    I think it’s true that the Tea Party platform wasn’t radically different from the pre-existing Republican platform. But they took it literally and seriously, whereas the Republican governing elite had understood that it was mostly aspirational stump talk.

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  18. Guarneri says:

    I wonder how many in attendance really hold convictions, whatbwith the professional protesters and those there as a social event.

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  19. Pch101 says:

    @James Joyner:

    A group that wants more trade tariffs and restrictions on abortion cannot be accurately described as favoring “smaller government.”

    Among social conservatives, “limited government” is a euphemism for getting Washington out of the civil rights business. They prefer “states rights”, which invariably means taking rights away from minorities. They don’t want less government, they want more of it.

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  20. Pete says:

    @Mikey: Didn’t vote for President

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  21. Mikey says:

    @Guarneri: Don’t even try with this horseshit. STFU and GTFO.

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  22. MBunge says:

    BLM and yesterday’s Women’s March really aren’t the same thing.

    BLM seems to be a new generation of politically aware African-Americans who aren’t willing to accept a certain level of awfulness out of fear that pushing to hard for change might make things worse.

    The Women’s March does appear similar to the Tea Party in that it’s relatively privileged people lashing out when they find out they’re not quite as privileged as they thought they were.

    The Tea Party had a more concrete focus, however, of getting the GOP to actually live up to what it had been promising for years. I’m not sure the folks embodied by the Women’s March know if they should be going after Trump or the Democratic Party.

    Mike

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  23. MarkedMan says:

    I was at the Washington march yesterday. It was predominantly white, but not Tea Party levels. Blacks make up 13% of the population and I would say they were a higher percentage of the attendees, but not by much.

    I would also challenge the idea that “the Tea Party” effected any change. It’s more accurate that a number of groups and wealthy individuals were able to motivate self identified tea parties to donate to specific groups, buy sketchy products and vote in particular ways. But the Tea Party itself was only an identity. There wasn’t an actual Tea Party that ran candidates.

    As for what will happen next, hard to say. The only way events like this can actually have an effect is if it motivates enough people to take concrete actions rather than just attend protests. I wonder if anyone has ever done serious research on why and how often that happens?

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  24. al-Ameda says:

    @Guarneri:

    I wonder how many in attendance really hold convictions, whatbwith the professional protesters and those there as a social event.

    Congratulations, you fit well in the new alternative.right white male nationalist America.

    My daughter attended the march in San Francisco in a cold and steady rain. She participated because she believes that there is a now a complete Republican majority leadership in Washington that is extremely hostile to the right of a woman to control her reproductive rights, and that current hard won rights are in jeopardy of being significantly diminished.

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  25. Gustopher says:

    @MBunge:

    I’m not sure the folks embodied by the Women’s March know if they should be going after Trump or the Democratic Party.

    The pussyhats seemed pretty clear on who they were going after.

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  26. Mr. Bluster says:

    …how many in attendance really hold convictions

    You mean like this:
    When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.
    President Pud

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  27. gVOR08 says:

    It strikes me, then, that the Women’s March is quite analogous to the Tea Party movement that sprung up in reaction to the Obama presidency and his initial steps in addressing the Great Recession. Ideologically and culturally, they’re almost mirror images of one another. (Although, amusingly, they’re both almost entirely populated by white people.)

    I marched in Cincinnati with my wife. Organizers were expecting maybe 2,000. Both the Enquirer and I agree on 10,000. I’ve seen 5,000 in that park, this was double. Eyeball estimate 15% male, similar black, including a Black Lives Matter presence. I suspect DC had lower black turnout because so much of the DC crowd traveled, which is easier for mid and upper class women.

    We had our Cincinnati Tea Party demonstrations 8 years ago. The press went nuts over several hundred, gathered with organizing assistance from Koch et al funded astroturf operations.

    The Women’s March is a pretty amorphous thing now, but hopefully it shows a few GOP congresspeople who the real “real Americans” are, and how many of us there are. And maybe buoys a few Dems. Think the idea that they’d better have a replacement, a real replacement, for the ACA before they start repealing got a boost yesterday? Think maybe the press narrative got nudged a bit? Occupy was perhaps not very effective, but income inequality became something the press and politicians talked about.

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  28. gVOR08 says:

    @MBunge:

    The Tea Party had a more concrete focus, however, of getting the GOP to actually live up to what it had been promising for years.

    And the TP people got played again.

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  29. joy says:

    I might have a different perspective about the Women’s Marches yesterday than this regular motley group of contributors (a compliment, I swear), so here’s why I think they were important.

    1) Many of the women who marched yesterday were not active participants in the political process (other than voting or maybe putting up a FB post) prior to this. There are women I’ve known all of my life, both friends and family, who have never shown a proclivity for politics before, and they got out there and marched. And for the record they were not marching merely because of Hillary per se.

    2) For every marcher out on the streets, there was an informal group of women doing other things (working, raising kids, etc.) yesterday who supported her. And other women who now feel emboldened enough to talk about politics with her friends. I could see this occurring within my own friend groups. In other words, it’s not just about the 1% of Americans who marched yesterday, it’s about her *and her friends* and the other people she can influence personally.

    To be honest, the marches outside of DC/NY/SF were more important.

    3) You know the informal groups of women getting community activities like bake sales and fundraisers done? Those women are now politicized. You should see the chatter on my social media timelines now – from mom chatter to how will we can participate in politics strategizing. To be honest, this is the most important takeaway from yesterday.

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  30. Mr. Bluster says:

    @MarkedMan:..As for what will happen next, hard to say.

    Rich people march on Washington every day. I. F. Stone

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  31. Hal_10000 says:

    While I will probably find myself disagreeing with a lot of their goals, I can’t help but applaud the remarkable effort and turnout. I’ll be happy to ally with anyone who will oppose Trump’s attacks on civil liberties and the Constitution. And you KNOW it got to Trump because he felt the need to send out his press secretary to scream at the press about how his attendance was TOTALLY bigger. Just yuge.

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  32. michael reynolds says:

    It was a very important thing.

    It’s a first. I don’t think we’ve ever seen a demonstration the day after inauguration that out-drew the inauguration by 3 to 1. It is an absolutely astounding and clear repudiation of Trump and the GOP. The fact that hundreds of thousands of people could be motivated by some woman in Hawaii deciding to announce a march on Facebook, is amazing.

    It sends a message to the Republican Congress, but to state houses as well – and they are all way more vulnerable than the average Congressperson. It sends a message to future presidential aspirants of both parties. It solidifies the sense that Trump is being rejected by the American people, like tissue rejection in an organ transplant. The American Body is not accepting its new bladder.

    It strengthens the hands of the permanent bureaucracy, puts some steel in the spine of the media, strengthens every Trump opponent across the board.

    It forced Trump on Day 2 to send Spicer out and annihilate his own credibility. Day 2 of the Trump Regime was the Man-Baby obsessing over crowd size and bragging as he ignored the wall of the dead at CIA headquarters. Bad start. Really bad start.

    Will it matter to the 46%? In the end, yes. Trump Reality will not long survive a collision with Actual Reality. Out of his 46% most may be willing to move to crazytown, but some significant number of them will choose reality. I’d guess his real hardcore support is around 35%. And he has absolutely no capacity to expand beyond his base. He’s doubling down on a divisive approach despite not having majority numbers. Or having the skill set to appeal to a majority. And he’s being indelibly defined as dishonest, immature and unstable, which means that even in a crisis he will have a very hard time pulling off what George W. Bush did in the wake of 9/11. George W. Bush was an idiot, but he was an affable one, and he had some reservoir of support even across the aisle. Trump is an idiot who is also loathsome and has zero support beyond his base.

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  33. James Joyner says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I would also challenge the idea that “the Tea Party” effected any change. It’s more accurate that a number of groups and wealthy individuals were able to motivate self identified tea parties to donate to specific groups, buy sketchy products and vote in particular ways. But the Tea Party itself was only an identity. There wasn’t an actual Tea Party that ran candidates.

    An actual Tea Party that ran candidates in a third party sense would have been an abysmal failure. If anything, they’d have ensured the election of Democrats and gotten the opposite of their policy preferences. Instead, they followed Bill Buckley’s advice—although, surely, to what would have been his chagrin were he still alive–in putting in the most “conservative” candidate possible in parts of the country where moderate Republicans could be replaced by radicals. And they also picked Trump over several highly qualified but mainstream old-style conservative Republicans.

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  34. Scott says:

    The Tea Party never mobilized a single protest march anywhere near what we saw yesterday. But it spawned demonstration after demonstration. More importantly, it organized politically, putting forth candidates that defeated scores of Establishment Republicans in the primaries and ultimately won a wave election in the 2010 midterms.

    One thing about the Tea Party is that it had a lot of money behind it as well as a major network. On the surface they pretended that it was grass roots and spontaneous; however, there were a lot of organizers and PACs channelling, if not directing, the Tea Party actions. If remains to be seen, if these current marches will have a similar path to success.

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  35. James Joyner says:

    @joy: I don’t know how well the movement holds up when it gets down to actual policy proposals. I suspect that many would not be your cup of tea, for example. But I’m on board with a theoretical version of this movement that opposes so much of what is repugnant about Trump.

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  36. gVOR08 says:

    The press have a habit of accepting Republicans at face value. Trump must be respectable, after all, he was elected Republican President. Everyone’s been waiting for Trump to pivot, to reach out and conciliate, to become “presidential”. After all, he’s a successful businessman ™. The stupid press conference made a few of the press print that the Emperor had no clothes. The NYT even used the word “lie”. Now maybe they’ll recognize that the Trump we see is the real Trump. And the March may have shown them that this election was a fluke, not a sea change. The famous rural Blue Collar White males may have turned out a little better this time, but there are a hell of a lot of middle class urban and suburban women, and men, who want no part of what Trump is selling, and probably not much of what Ryan is selling.

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  37. wr says:

    @MBunge: “The Women’s March does appear similar to the Tea Party in that it’s relatively privileged people lashing out when they find out they’re not quite as privileged as they thought they were.”

    And you know this how? I live in midtown Manhattan and I saw waves of people — women, men, black, white, brown — flowing towards Dag Hammerskjold Plaza to take part in this march. I know you like to pretend they’re all “limousine liberals” because then you can continue to sneer, as you do at everyone but yourself, but here you are simply pulling claims out of your ass.

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  38. bookdragon says:

    I’ll go with this response:

    Laurie Penny:

    Stop asking if the #WomensMarch ‘will achieve anything in the long run.’ It already has. Millions of women feel less beaten today.

    And the fact that lot of those protestors are making plans to meet for Resistance brunches next weekend.

    Also, from one of my favorite protest signs, another important point of these protests:

    “First they came for the Muslims
    and we said
    NOT THIS TIME MOTHERF—ERS”

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  39. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: “It solidifies the sense that Trump is being rejected by the American people, like tissue rejection in an organ transplant. The American Body is not accepting its new bladder.”

    I believe the proper medical term is “sphincter.”

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  40. KM says:

    @bookdragon:

    Also, from one of my favorite protest signs, another important point of these protests:

    “First they came for the Muslims
    and we said
    NOT THIS TIME MOTHERF—ERS”

    Excellent sign! Kudos to the maker.

    It’s being called the women’s march but it was about so so much more. We need to keep pointing out all the aspects of it so it doesn’t get trivialized as “angry chics bitching”. This was Americans voicing their many concerns about PEOTUS and how his Administration better watch their backs – we won’t tolerate their targeting of any group.

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  41. James Pearce says:

    The challenge will be in putting forth an actual policy agenda, finding and funding candidates to champion it, and then getting them elected.

    Ah, but this is the easy stuff. This was going to happen, to some degree or another, whether millions of people protested or not.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think there is any promise in this, or any other, protest at all. Zero, zilch, nada, nope.

    I look upon the aerial photos of all those people on the mall and I don’t feel energized or inspired. I feel depleted, hopeless. I see hordes of dehumanized specks, all standing in the cold, competing to see who has the cleverest sign, the only measurable result being–literally–a headcount. (Ian McKellen brought a sign with the Picard facepalm! Didya see it? Hilarious, yes, but also…well…kind of inert. What is the point, a changed mind or a knowing giggle from a fellow traveler?)

    And I get it. If there’s one group that’s willing to stand up and be counted, it’s the American left. It’d just be nice if they acknowledged there’s more to it than that.

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  42. James Pearce says:

    @bookdragon:

    Also, from one of my favorite protest signs, another important point of these protests

    This is me doing the Picard facepalm. Internet memes in posterboard form are very entertaining and mucho amusing. But “important?”

    To the contrary. Holding up a clever sign is trivial. Raising funds to pay for the lawyers we’re going to use to challenge Trump’s policies in court and/or his confederates during the next election, now that would be important.

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  43. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “I look upon the aerial photos of all those people on the mall and I don’t feel energized or inspired. I feel depleted, hopeless.”

    I feel sorry for you.

    Maybe if you’d stepped outside and shared some of the energy flowing through these people you’d feel differently. Or maybe you can’t accept the march because you’re still obsessing about the sad plight of the poor downtrodden male. Whatever. I don’t think I’ve ever read something quite as pathetic as your post.

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  44. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner:

    Instead, they followed Bill Buckley’s advice

    I think we are in basic agreements except I m making the distinction that the “they” in terms of deciding who to run was the Koch brothers and a few other powerful non-politicians. The “they” in terms of ground troops and turnout at the polls was the self identified tea partiers

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  45. DrDaveT says:

    It strikes me, then, that the Women’s March is quite analogous to the Tea Party movement

    I’ve tried a couple of times to make sense out of this, but I still can’t. The Tea Party was a movement of politicians, not of citizens. It was (as you note) purely internal to the Republican Party — a rejection of party goals by members of that party. It did not cut across party (or demographic) lines in any way. It wasn’t even astroturf, in terms of community-level actions.

    …which as far as I can tell means it had exactly nothing in common with yesterday’s events. My immediate gut reaction is (not for the first time) that you really need to carefully examine how you feel deep down about women in public — but I want to be wrong about that, and I’m happy to reserve judgment while you take another crack at explaining what you were trying to say about the Women’s March.

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  46. MarkedMan says:

    I think it’s worth repeating: a whole generation will have known two presidents since they became politically aware: the progressive Democrat who was a class act the whole way and championed diversity in his admistration, and the crazy Republican Donald Trump who has nothing but contempt for diversity and put rich white males in every significant position. Assuming it is going to crash and burn bigly (a tragically safe assumption) it is safe to say Donald Trump and the Republicans will do more to put paid to the assumption of white male entitlement than every liberal who ever existed

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  47. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Mikey: Can’t speak for Pete, but considering that Mike Shedlock comments for townhall.com, I expect that he would have been willing to vote for Satan, Cthlhu, or anyone else not Democratic or named Clinton regardless of their position on war, killing civilians, or anything else.

    And I disagree, Pete (and Shedlock) will figure out a way to rationalize anything that Trump does because “anything is better than having a Clinton in office.”

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  48. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Jim Brown 32: I’m not sure why you think Pete is a liberal, but…okay. Liked your statement, though.

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  49. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Guarneri: I sometimes wonder if you hold any convictions, too.

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  50. James Pearce says:

    @wr:

    Or maybe you can’t accept the march because you’re still obsessing about the sad plight of the poor downtrodden male.

    Yeah, that’s it….

    I mean, what am I supposed to “accept” here? That the march happened? That “the energy flowing through these people” was applied to something useful? I’ll grant the former, but you’ll have to convince me of the latter.

    I don’t think I’ve ever read something quite as pathetic as your post.

    Yeah, well, I don’t think I’ve read anything quite as pathetic as this Tweet from our newly inaugurated president:

    Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn’t these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly.

    The bully isn’t scared or shamed or humbled or even mildly embarrassed by the protests. He’s amused, greeting them with open mockery.

    Was that the intended result?

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  51. Pch101 says:

    If you are in need of a marketing expert, James Pearce is not your guy.

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  52. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce: See the website in my first comment, swingleft.org? It crashed today under the onslaught of people trying to register.

    People who’ve never done much more than Facebook comments are beginning to take a more active role. They understand Trump isn’t just a threat to the Democratic Party, he’s a threat to democracy itself.

    Even if only a small percentage of those who showed up at marches yesterday get involved in their communities, we’re still talking hundreds of thousands of people across the nation.

    You feel hopeless? Then like @wr, I feel sorry for you. Yesterday was the first day since November 8 that I’ve felt any hope at all.

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  53. Argon says:

    My wife went to a march on Saturday. Her first time ever. She is pissed.

    The Tea Party started off with a lot of pissed off people too. What is going to continue to motivate the Womens’ Marchers to gel into organized action is Trump’s continuous malfeasance and the way the GOP acquiesces to it. Demographically, the GOP is screwed. But the tipping point is going to come much faster thanks to Trump inspiring counter-political activity. I suspect the next steps will be to finally organize and take back as many state legislatureso as possible.

    Regarding the parades themselves.. The fact that Rod Dreher got the vapours from protest signs depicting vulvas is a bonus.

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  54. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce: Christ, dude. Trump’s tweet was pathetic. His sending out of the hapless, helpless Sean Spicer to straight-up lie about the numbers was pathetic. Conway’s blather about “alternative facts” was pathetic. He thinks he’s being mocking, but he’s just being utterly pathetic.

    He’s going to bleed off supporters until there’s nobody left but the hard core Kool-Aid swillers. Everyone else is seeing through his act already and he’s only been in office two days. Even Fox News called him out.

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  55. KM says:

    @James Pearce :

    The bully isn’t scared or shamed or humbled or even mildly embarrassed by the protests. He’s amused, greeting them with open mockery.

    Was that the intended result?

    In a way, yes. The bully will always be a bully – tiger can’t change its stripes and all that. You’re right that he’s amused and mocking and dismissive. Guess what – the American people don’t like smug mocking elitists in power dismissing them since we’ve been told over and over again that’s what got us Trump in the first place.

    Trump voters, on the other hand, are going to be forced to see PEOTUS act like a complete ass over and over again on the little things. The trolls may love his behavior but there’s growing discontent with un-presidential Twitter and petty BS. He was hired to do a job about jobs, not throw daily tantrums. The ones that gave him a chance are the target. They’ll realize what a clusterf*ck this will be and liberals will have more allies across the aisle then they have in years. Put pressure on lawmakers from liberal and concerned conservatives and watch the flames lick higher till they reach his feet.

    Micheal was right: set the narrative as Trump as incompetent manbaby and watch the self-fulfillment. The march made its point. More Americans are against him then for him so they have to lie about piddly-ass shite to appease his ego. He’s a one term president everytime his fingers touch a keyboard.

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  56. James Pearce says:

    @Pch101:

    If you are in need of a marketing expert, James Pearce is not your guy.

    I’m not your guy period.

    @Mikey:

    People who’ve never done much more than Facebook comments are beginning to take a more active role.

    If so, I’m glad. Maybe some of these new people will inject new ideas. I am just not in a “this is fine” mood when it comes to the state of the progressive left.

    It’s not fine. The damn room is burning around us. Donald Trump is president, Republicans control Congress, and we’ll soon have Trump picks sitting on the Supreme Court, and we’re going to brag about how many people went to the protest? Might the priorities be a little out of order?

    @KM:

    Guess what – the American people don’t like smug mocking elitists in power dismissing them since we’ve been told over and over again that’s what got us Trump in the first place.

    Americans like smug mocking elitists in power dismissing other people though. Am I right?

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  57. Gustopher says:

    @KM: “Trump voters, on the other hand, are going to be forced to see PEOTUS act like a complete ass over and over again on the little things”

    I regret to inform you he is now the POTUS.

    (Or the PEEOTUS, if you prefer… or the marmot-topped, orange-faced sh.t-gibbon…)

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  58. Gustopher says:

    @James Pearce:

    It’s not fine. The damn room is burning around us. Donald Trump is president, Republicans control Congress, and we’ll soon have Trump picks sitting on the Supreme Court, and we’re going to brag about how many people went to the protest? Might the priorities be a little out of order?

    Short of armed revolution (or some kind of elaborate plot involving trained dolphins attaching explosives to his yacht, or a lucky break with the bird flu) that cannot be changed for several years.

    An energized left is going to be much more motivated to get in their congresscritters face, and do everything they can do to stall the Republicans’ momentum than a demoralized left. More people turning out to protest than were at the inauguration of Mr. Unpopularity is a good thing from that perspective.

    Remember: the status quo is preferable than where Trump and the Republican congress want to take our country. Throwing a wrench into the works, or even slowing it down, is a victory.

    And, if we have a sustained resistance to Trump, and a sustained haranguing of the congress, and they still move swiftly, then there really was nothing we could do short of filling the capitol building and the White House with genetically modified lemurs with a taste for blood (and I have no idea where we would get those lemurs)

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  59. Bookdragon says:

    @James Pearce: who says they aren’t also raising funds and calling congress and organizing a dozen other ways?

    Yes, what we have in office is horrifying, and I spent weeks being horrified and depressed, but you know what? This helped. If nothing else, it showed I am very much not alone and literally millions of other Americans will not just roll over and trump turn us into Russia-lite.

    And if you still think that is worthless and accomplishes nothing, then get off your butt and do something you consider useful instead of just complaining. Maybe you’ll see there are other people doing useful stuff too.

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  60. James Joyner says:

    @DrDaveT: The system ate my first attempt to reply to this so here’s the short version: Analogies are never perfect. The Women’s March and the Tea Party differ in many ways. The commonality I’m drawing is two-fold. First, both are based in hurt and fear. Second, one was quite successful in mobilizing political change via organizing to elect like-minded candidates and I’m suggesting the other has that chance if it follows suit.

    Just because something is called a Woman’s March doesn’t mean it’s representative of women as a whole. More than half of white women voted for Trump, after all, and the Venn diagram of Women’s March participants and female Trump voters has nearly no intersection.

    The Women’s March is almost entirely a Democratic Party movement with, presumably, some modest sprinkling of nominal Republicans who, like me, find Trump repugnant. If they’re going to have more than an impressive one-day statement, they’ll have to organize in the way the Tea Party did.

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  61. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce: We’re not bragging about the size of the march simply for the sake of bragging, we’re bragging because it gets under Trump’s skin. It causes him to reveal himself once again as thin-skinned, insecure, and juvenile. It’s another way to get people to realize how unsuited he is for the Presidency.

    But you’re right, that’s not enough. It’s great to see what may have been the single largest public display of protest in American history, but as I said, it’s just a start. There must be action, and there will be.

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  62. Pch101 says:

    Pearce doesn’t understand the benefits of protest, so he isn’t going to get it.

    That being said, the problem generally with protests from the left is that they tend to do it in ways that marginalize the movement.

    It’s fine to have women protesting, but branding it as a “women’s march” typecasts it as a sort of fringe effort that doesn’t speak for anyone who isn’t a feminist. It will have to grow beyond that if it is to gain any traction.

    The thing that the left needs to borrow from the Tea Party is their claim that they speak for a silent majority. Even liberals have bought into the bogus stereotype that “real” Americans look like right-wing archetypes instead of themselves.

    Allowing the right to define the “real America” is a serious mistake. The left needs to take control of the dialogue so that it is clear that places such as New York, LA, Chicago and Silicon Valley are the real America.

    If anything, those places are a better representation of the real America because those are kinds of places where things get done. Since when did whining about a past that is never coming back in a dying corner of the heartland become representative of a country built by pioneers?

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  63. bill says:

    it was a “liberal women’s march” nothing more. any women who voted for trump, and there’s a whole bunch of them, were not invited let alone welcome with these rabid hags.
    ashley judds rant was hysterical- truly the meaning of hysterical. that chicks heading for a brick wall without an airbag….wow.

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  64. Mikey says:

    @bill:

    these rabid hags.

    Yeah, a lot of my friends were there. Fvck you, asshole.

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  65. Pch101 says:

    Given the choice between getting a root canal and associating with Bill, my vote would be for the dental work.

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  66. al-Alameda says:

    @bill:

    it was a “liberal women’s march” nothing more. any women who voted for trump, and there’s a whole bunch of them, were not invited let alone welcome with these rabid hags.

    Have you thought about updating your stale stereotypes?

    “Not invited’? I had no idea that formal invitations were sent out.

    “Rabid hags”? One of my daughters attended, along with a group of her close friends. Each of these young women are working white collar professionals – corporate finance, product development, employer benefits analyst, venture capital team associate – and I would not characterize any of them as ‘rabid hags.’ In fact it can reasonably be posited that a reason (among many) a march like this took place is because of a pervasive feeling that there are many people out there – Trump proponents – who believe as you apparently do that people like my daughter and her friends are ‘rabid hags.’

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