The people screamed. They yelled. They chanted and hooted and all muttered between each other that “Let It Be” was probably a bad choice to play at the Women’s March because the whole point is not just letting it be.
The people took to the streets, strode down Michigan Avenue, yelled that this was not normal, that the loser by 2.9 million votes should not be the winner of the nation, that the clown should not be allowed to fail up.
It was super-fun.
So what do we do, like, now?
The Big Caveat
Here’s the bad part: Nothing that comes next will be as fun as the Women’s March.
There’s a lot of snarky chatter online (The Internet: Home of the Snarky Backbite) about how it was just a show of force, about how it was just about people feeling proud of themselves for not being racist/sexist/anything-ist, that it in the long run by itself did nothing.
Well, yeah. It was a rally. Like a pep rally. Like that thing high schools do to pump themselves up for the big game.
So here’s the big game:
Open Your Wallets
It’s not about making change. It’s about fighting the forces that want to take back the advances that we have made. Open your wallets to bolster the defense.
So fund the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, local and national queer rights, environmental, journalistic, anti-corruption or free speech groups. There’s no shortage of issues this administration is going to mess up. Throw a dart.
If you don’t have money, raise money. Hold fundraisers for these groups. Any idiot can do it.
Don’t have money, but have time? Do that.
My only caveat here is that you should do what they want you to do, not what you want to do. The work these groups need might involve standing in the cold and wet to escort women seeking health care past screaming protestors. It might involve handing out fliers at fairs, or just sitting in a room organizing donor information into spreadsheets and oh my god I just bored myself writing that clause.
You do it because it’s wrong not to do it. The fight’s not there to keep you entertained.
[EDIT: Since I wrote this, I learned of the Chicago Volunteer Expo, a perfect — and upcoming — chance to figure out how you can help different local groups.]
Get Involved in the System
Think the system is corrupt? Guess what. It is and it will be whether or not you’re involved. All you staying out of the fray means is that you get a little halo while the world gets worse.
Vote, contact your representatives, campaign for and donate to candidates you think are less worse than the other guy and otherwise get your hands dirty. Hell, maybe even go full scumbag and run for office.
Politics runs the country. Any plan for change that doesn’t involve active political involvement (as opposed to just hoping politicians see what you’re doing and decide to change their minds like when the Grinch hears all the Whos singing) is, by definition, going to fail.
You’re going to have to talk to politicians to change politics. Sorry.
Conclusion / The Whiny Wine Man
At the big rally on Saturday, I had the misfortune to walk next to a whiny guy with a beard and a water bottle full of red wine. He kept talking about how discouraged and sad he was and how much he was questioning the meaning of it all.
To you sir, I ask this: Why did you think this would be fun?
You do it because it’s wrong not to, not because you feel some satisfying pull toward truth. Being a relevant citizen takes hard, boring work every single day of your life.
I couldn’t be more excited to start.