Swords up!

img_0101So I went to the Women’s March on Washington, what turned out to be a half-million strong band of like-minded folks who came from all over to put the new president on notice. We’re watching. If you’ll notice the one sign, “Get Up and Walk,” that’s quoting Jesus.

img_0111We had about a two-mile walk from RFK Stadium to the actual march at the Capitol Mall, and along the way, we were greeted by townsfolk cheering us on. If you’ll notice, the older woman in the purple shirt is holding aloft her walker. It was awesome.img_0120

Some of the best political commentary came from the protest signs. I liked the one above, but the California carrying a string of small plastic hands spoke volumes to me, too.

img_0107

In all, it was a long-ass day and so worth the effort. Did you march? Where? Do you want to share pictures? Everyone I walked with on Saturday knew this was the big party before the real work. We march. And then we organize. And then? We Make America Great, Period.

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11 responses to “Swords up!

  1. I did watch,,,off and on. But I kept track.
    Truly impressive numbers…across the nation. In my corner of The Wild Wild West four thousand were expected at the capital based on Facebook responses. Ten thousand showed up. Considering the weather and the downright spooky travel conditions, that’s really impressive.

    But yeah….now the work begins. That will be interesting to watch.
    Micah White, formerly of Adbusters and Occupy Wall Street, has some advice: “Without a path from protest to power, the Women’s March will end up like Occupy.” Mary Anne Trasciatti believes the career of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn would be instructive.

    Her political career shows that demonstrations are most effective when they have a tangible goal, and that organizers must be flexible in adapting tactics to the requirements and constraints of a situation. It shows that all those who take part in mass movements must be ready to face the repressive response of the state, whether it comes through legislation, intimidation, or direct violence.

    I agree.

    The choices, however, will remain the same: Change versus status quo.

    • So we have to go with change. The organizers put out a 10-point, 100-day action plan. I intend to do it all (will post it here tomorrow).

      • I hope they get more substantive than the first.

        • I assume these are just guidelines. We all have to start somewhere. I keep in mind that for many of the people marching on Saturday, this is their first rodeo. This is a good start.

          • I wouldn’t write it off as not substantive. Of course more is needed, and more is to come. However, if the mass stays in tact in action, even postcards can’t be ignored. They will know where we stand and that we are paying attention. We’ve proven we can organize.

            Plus, anyone who didn’t participate in the March and is opposed to injustice, and the words, actions, and proposed policies of the new administration, can join in now making the message even louder. Let’s not forget, lots of people have been acting and speaking for decades before this March. We cannot assume they have been quiet. However, when we talk over one another or compete for airtime, it can become noise. And some people have wanted to engage, but couldn’t figure out how. This gave them a way to do so. When we speak together and hold each other up without putting the other down, we can be loud and powerful. We must show that by our united level of support that these injustices can no longer be ignored. THIS: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.) The strength has come in uniting. I hope we can keep that up.
            (WordPress won’t let me share photos.)

            • If you send them to me, I’ll share them — but only if you want.

            • It’s just not the type of organizing I’m used to.
              When I was organizing labor, (back in the day before union leadership got in bed with bosses), we approached organizing differently.

              First, we would get as many of the disillusioned, disenfranchised and angry workers as we could into a room. Then we listened to their grievances. We would engage them in discourse to create statements that clearly and concisely defined those grievances in a way a clear majority could agree upon.

              Then, we would listen again to why they thought the status quo had failed them. More discourse would follow to create more statements that clearly and concisely illustrated, in a way a clear majority could agree upon, the cause of their disillusionment with the status quo.

              Then, we listened again to what they thought needed to change. More discourse, creating more clear and concise statements that defined, in a way a clear majority could agree upon, demands for change.

              More often than not, this would take more than one meeting. Which was a good thing. Because when word got around we were listening and responding positively to their grievances, instead of preaching an agenda, more workers, and family members, would show up.

              In this way, we were able to groom leaders amongst the rank and file. People who were part of the crowd. People who were not distant strangers. People who did not represent the status quo. People who represented the need for change the workers themselves had created at the meetings. This was the most important step. Without such leadership representing tangible goals, the organizing effort would invariably fail. That leadership was necessary to create the trust we needed to push through a vote for representation.

              Then, and only then, would we encourage workers to get on the phone and creating mailings. (No email in those days.) But we didn’t encourage them to contact the bosses or their cohorts…or politicians…especially not politicians…not at that point. We encouraged them to contact other workers. Those who had not attended prior meetings. Those who had attended some, bit not all meetings. Those who they knew were opposed to unionization. And insist that they attend the next meeting, the vote for representation. Because without their input, their could be no galvanization of solidarity, no transparency. And we encouraged them, especially the leadership that was growing within that organizing process, to contact the press. Counter misinformation propagated by the bosses, the status quo. Invite the press to the vote, so they could see firsthand the process and the commitment we organizers had, hopefully, fostered among the workers.

              Even if the vote for representation failed, we planted a seed that would grow in the hearts and minds of every worker, opposed or not. We treated them with dignity and respect, which was, in my experience, always at the core of worker dissatisfaction. And we introduced them to a democratic process they could easily replicate for future negotiations with their bosses, whether they were represented by a union or not. Once you get people away from the TV, or the bar, (the equivalents to todays computers and social media), and get them actively involved in rediscovering that dignity, that respect, that agency lost to oppression, they never go back.

              A great deal of momentum was created on Saturday. Get those people to meetings. Organize groups aligned to issues. Not Parties. Not politicians. Or they will fade away. Or worse. They’ll be corralled by those opposed to change and manipulated into capitulating to the status quo…again.

              • There may be some of the same elements here — getting pissed off, disillusioned people together in a room (or a Capitol Mall). We shall see.

                • Get them in a room. Small groups to start with.
                  People are already pissed off. That anger has to be directed in a way that people gain confidence in their own ability to represent their dissent. They have to feel engaged. They have to feel they contribute, that they are being represented. They have to feel progress is being made.

                  It’s tough work. But it’s necessary to sustain a movement. That…and money. We’re going to need bunches of money eventually. It’s America. No wheels turn without grease.

                  One good thing I am noticing today, though. It appears the press has had it up to wherever the burning point is for the press these days. (Alternative facts. Holy shit.) That’s going to make it much easier for them to move past the “treacle down” support common to most reporting on political dissent these days and into some hard reporting on what’s pissing people off. Facts. Something The Donald fears more than Paul Ryan.

  2. We were in Boston where they kept on upping the projected number the day before and the crowd just kind of exploded. I was encouraged by the number of younger people even if it was to be expected in Boston. I’m more encouraged by the turnout in places like Texas, Alaska, Idaho, Kanasas…..It’s a start.

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