The Trump Effect: What results when a misogynistic, racist narcissist is elected to the office of President of the United States of America.
On November 7, 2017 I cast my vote for the 45th president of the United States. When I woke up the next morning I was aghast to learn that Donald Trump was President-Elect with a homophobic Vice President-Elect by his side. As the weeks progressed I was hopeful that some semblance of a coherent, intelligent unifying diplomat would emerge. However, a continuous stream of apparently impulsive tweets and rants continued to portray Mr. Trump’s true character. Instead of reassuring, or hopeful, his recent cabinet choices were frightening. I began to feel less and less optimistic about the future of our country.
Meanwhile, a group of women who felt the same sense of despair began to organize.
Meanwhile, a group of women who felt the same sense of despair began to organize. The Women’s March on Washington was planned for the day after inauguration and quickly gained momentum. I am not the type of person who normally would participate in something like this. It’s out of my comfort zone. However, feeling increasingly powerless, I knew I needed to go, if for no other reason but to be surrounded by people who felt the same way.
On January 20th while many people boycotted watching the inauguration, I chose to. (You’re welcome Mr. President, I know how childishly important viewing numbers are to you.) I watched because I was hopeful that he would say something that would make me proud, that he would say something that would unify our country, that he would bring us together. My hopes evaporated that day.
On the morning of January 21st I flew to Baltimore to meet my friend and fellow Buffalonian, Bea Slick, and attend the March. Our plan to take the train into DC was derailed (no pun intended) as there were not enough trains to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of people who descended upon our nation’s capital for the March. We quickly hired a cab and waited for an hour for its arrival. The drive into DC took twice the normal time for a Saturday morning as busses filled the roadways making their way en masse.
As we neared the Capitol we began to realize the magnitude of the what we were about to experience. Women wearing pink “pussy” hats were lining the streets carrying signs and waving flags as they walked along. Yes, I said pussy. If our president can say it, than so can I. We were dropped off at Union Station and we officially began our March.
Our first matter of business, so to speak, was a bathroom stop inside Union Station. During our hour long wait in line we met Sumaiya Andaleeb and her husband Wafi Hasab. The couple lives outside of Baltimore and they had been looking forward to the March for weeks. Sumaiya said that they spent a long time in traffic that morning, but could not have cared less because they were there for many reasons that were important to them. Among those reasons, the couple said were women’s rights, the environment, the situation in North Dakota and the rights of minorities including those of the LGBTQ community. Wafi invited me and Bea to accompany them and their friends along the route to the rally stage at 3rd and 4th on Independence. We gladly accepted.
The walk to Independence was a March of its own. As we made our way out of Union Station we began to take in the scope of the day. People were pouring in from every avenue. Signs and posters gave insight into the concerns of marchers as we united. The energy was palpable and the sense of sisterhood was empowering. I turned to Bea and said, “Look at this, this is democracy at its finest.” I was grateful to have been born in a country where I can exercise my right to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly with pride but also without fear. And I was angry at the suggestion that our country was not already great. I was proud to be marching that day, and I was proud to be an American.
Be the change you wish to see in the world.
Near the Capitol I passed a young girl whose mom was filming her dancing while holding their sign bearing the words, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Ten year old Ally and her mom Rachel boarded a bus at 3:00 a.m. Saturday morning in Wisconsin to attend the March. They came to stand up for the rights of women and minorities that are threatened to be taken away. Ally said, “If people were coming here to stand up for all these people, I told my mom, ‘I’m going too.’” She stated, “I really love being here in the crowds, listening to all the chanting, and people are really nice.”
I met many people along the way. Nearby I ran into Bob and Barbara from Philadelphia where Bob is a member of the Philadelphia Carpenters’ Union, who were marching with Edwin and Eva from New Jersey.
Bob said that his reason for making the trip was, “to support our lady-friends.” Amanda from Brooklyn boarded a bus at 5:00 a.m. Saturday to “be among a community who is together standing against hatred.”
Risa from Boston stated, “This is a reminder that in a democracy we are here for everyone. We have to be inclusive, we have to consider the needs of everyone, no matter what their backgrounds, and we have to continue to work toward meeting those particular needs. A government that is exclusive is not the type of government I envision ours to be.”
29 year old Sam from DC said, “When I heard that there was a big group of people gathering to say that they want to stand up for equality and human decency and people’s rights I thought yeah, I want to be there too.”
Nilsa from Chicago says that it was important for her to do this with her family, “We united as a multi-generational group with moms and dads, grandmother, uncles, aunts and nieces, and we all got to march together. I felt like that was important for us, to experience this March together.”
As the day progressed, the crowd size grew and we could not make it all the way to the stage. The official March was scheduled for 2:00 and near that time Bea and I realized that if we did not turn around we might not make it back to Baltimore in time for me to make my evening flight home. We made the difficult decision to play it safe and turn back. We hugged and said goodbye to our new friends Sumaiya and Wafi, promising to reunite with them at future rallies and marches, a certain by-product of The Trump Effect.
On our way back to Union Station, people still were pouring in and I received a text from my husband saying that a D.C. official estimated the crowd size to be over 500,000 at that point. The sounds of applause during speeches and chantings of the crowd could be heard as we left.
When we returned to our hotel, we sat in the lobby watching the news as marchers started to roll in and join us. A comradery naturally developed as we shared our stories of the day. I thought to myself, if the negative consequences of The Trump Effect are a chipping away of women’s rights, the appointing of extremely conservative justices to the Supreme Court and a complete denial of climate change to name a few, the positive consequences are this union of people determined to not stand still and not be silenced. In the words of Malala Yousafzai, “We realize the importance of our voices only when silenced.” And as Gloria Steinem had stated earlier that day, “This is the upside of the downside. This is an outpouring of energy and true democracy like I have never seen before in my long life.”
To be clear I do not want to see President Trump fail.
I flew home and sadly read many negative comments regarding the March. To be clear I do not want to see President Trump fail. To do so would be completely ignorant. However, to this point I have seen no indication to think otherwise. Indeed, in true Trump fashion the President took to Twitter the next morning to comment on the historic March, and with his usual lack of eloquence wrote, “Watched the protests yesterday but was under the impression we just had an election! Why didn’t these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly.” Well Mr. President, many of “these people” did vote, but they did not vote for you. To be clear millions more people voted for Hillary than for you. And you are correct, even millions more did not vote at all, had they you would not be POTUS, so maybe you should ingratiate yourself with “these people” because I am pretty sure that they will indeed vote in 2020. And as for celebs hurting the cause, it sounds to me like a case of sour grapes after a poorly attended inauguration. Not a good look sir.
When the president’s spokeswoman, Kellyanne Conway, says, “these people aren’t even giving him a chance,” claiming that we are unfair to this particular president, my response is, “His chance to prove himself to the American people began when he tossed his hat into the ring.” What he has proven to me thus far is that he is the type of person that I cannot identify or align myself with what-so-ever. My president works for me and my fellow Americans. Working for others is a role that Donald Trump has no experience in and seems to be very unfamiliar with and uncomfortable in. I do accept that Donald Trump is my president, but I do not accept his racist, sexist, bigoted, misgonystic ideologies that appear to be part of his character, but I will continue to give him the chance to prove otherwise. To the extent that he wants to do positive things, I will ask my congressmen and senators to work with him, but you can be assured that I will also be contacting those same politicians to work with me to fight against policies that are harmful, destructive or short-sighted.
So where do we go from here?
So where do we go from here? A question that was asked several times during the March in conversations with my fellow marchers. I wasn’t sure I knew even where to start. I went online to send a message to the March organizers and found that a plan is already in place. Their website posted a new campaign, “10 Actions for the First 100 Days”. It states, “Now is not the time to hang up our marching shoes – it’s time to get our friends, family and community together and make history. Every 10 days will will take action on an issue we all care about, starting today.”
And so it begins. I urge everyone to continue what began all over the world on January 21, 2017. We will not stand still and we will not be silenced. Brace yourselves, we have only just begun.