This weekend I had the pleasure of joining more than a million (totals still being tabulated) friends across the country holding rallies and marches in every state, from major metropolis on down to small town. We turned out to mark the one year anniversary of the inauguration and Women’s March from last year, and to get energized for the next year of our Resistance.
It was so nice to see everyone again! It also gave me pause to reflect on what I’ve been up to this past year, and I’d like to share some of those reflections with you.
I can’t emphasize enough how pivotal the 2017 Women’s March was for me. After the election I, like many of us, was in a state of grief at the dark direction my beloved country was taking. The one thing I felt just as strongly was that this time I had to DO SOMETHING. I’d spent the Bush years (more or less) trying the strategy of positively tending my own gardens, and trusting that change would radiate out from that. I don’t discount the philosophy or its merits, but I have to report that it didn’t work. In the Obama years, I rested way too much on the idea that now that we had leadership, it was their job to lead, and I would support. That didn’t work either.
I started to really appreciate for the first time the meaning of the Obama line- “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” We need to lead, and our elected leaders need to listen and follow. So I was ready, and I’d even made a kind of start that Fall and early Winter- donating to and publicizing nonprofits helping to defend the burgeoning list of the new Administration’s targets, speaking out against egregious policies and people, participating in a rally the weekend after the election, urging the electoral college, as antiquated and defunct a system as it is, to at least consider doing the job the Founders had designed it for. But I remained, for the most part, dispirited and anxious.
And then, on a rather pleasant January day after the inauguration, I joined a group of people gathering at the Vermont statehouse in Montpelier. It turned out to be about 14,000 people, the biggest gathering the capitol had ever seen. It turned out that, nationwide, there were 3-5 million of us on the streets that day- the biggest single-day protest in American history. I heard and saw beautiful multitudes pledging resistance, and standing up for the worth and dignity of all people. And my energy totally changed.
For the first time since November, hope became my lead emotion. Hope, though, is like a seed. For it to really grow, it needs to be watered by action. It was an open question for all of us how committed we would remain, what our follow-up would be. For me personally, the only way to answer that question was to DO. So I have tried my best to keep doing. Since January 21, 2017, I have:
- Attended my local community’s Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) group, and participated in their events.
- Gotten into contact with Vermont Black Lives Matter and started to support their events and activities.
- Helped my amazing wife Abbey as she founded BRIDGES, a political action group in our home town (about whom I’ll write a whole separate post sometime).
- Helped friends online publicize the San Francisco and Boston airport protests that sprung up in reaction to the first travel ban in January.
- Joined with Migrant Justice in putting pressure on state officials and local ICE offices in response to arrests of Vermont immigration activists, and holding Ben & Jerry’s to their promises to migrant farm workers.
- Joined in kicking off a resistance group at my workplace, and participated in community events around controversial author Charles Murray coming to speak there in March.
- Wore red in solidarity and participated in a protest on the “Day Without a Woman” in March.
- Participated in the Science March and the Climate March in April.
- Helped friends publicize rallies and protests against the Transgender military ban in July.
- In the wake of Charlottesville, joined memorials in Vermont, and helped Boston and Bay Area friends coordinate protests against White Nationalist rallies in their areas.
- For the first time ever in my life, gotten active in calling and writing my representatives- local, state and national.
- Used social media to urge others to do the same, and pushed friends and neighbors to advocate for issues- defending the ACA, Net Neutrality, supporting Universal Primary Care and Racial Justice measures in Vermont, etc.
- Beginning in the Spring, got active with various groups working on state and national swing elections nationwide, culminating in flipping the Washington State Senate in November, bringing the Virginia House of Delegates from 2/3 Republican to almost 50-50, and winning the Alabama senate seat in December.
- Went to my local town’s Democratic committee meeting and ended up on the committee, and serving as a delegate to the county Democratic Committee, where I’m currently working on messaging in support of Progressive ideas and policies.
- Started publishing a blog with regular updates on developments in the Russian Election interference investigations so that the truth gets out there.
The point of writing this is not to toot my own horn-although seeing it in print does explain/affirm why I often feel tired! It’s to witness, and commit to myself and all of you, that I’m going to keep it up. I have found again and again this past year that the only immunity I have to despair is in action.
Action leads to Optimism. Onward to our second year of Resistance!
You go ahead and toot your own horn, Chris. You are a model for the rest of us to follow as much as we can. I just got home from volunteering for Carina for Mayor, and will give both her and Bernie more time this week. We are the Resistance, and Vermont can lead the way!