I avoided every television set so as not to look. I was tempted not to open my eyes at all that day. I checked in online, though, and felt an unexpected emotion: sympathy for Melania Trump. Her husband acted so cold and even cruel to her, it was clear why she is not moving to D.C. She does not need the White House. She needs a safe house.
I spent a large part of Inauguration Day in D.C., walking adjacent to the protests, as I did not feel completely a part of them. I agreed with much of the spirit, but the scene was too far left for me. The crowd was just as I would expect: mostly young adults, the obligatory person on stilts. The Jill Stein buttons and the “Bring Back Bernie” signs kept me a few steps away, mumbling the chants instead of yelling them.
I kept wondering how many of these protesters refused to vote for Hillary Clinton and hated on her up until November 8, 2016, thus helping Trump. Probably many. One of the chants was “Free Abortion on Demand,” and I doubted they knew that Hillary Clinton came out for repealing the Hyde Amendment, which blocks Medicaid funding of abortions, and they could have gotten their wish.
I did love, however, all their anti-racism signs and the fact they too were running with “Nasty Woman” as a rallying cry. Also impressive was the prevalence of “Putin’s Puppet” posters and even a glorious one that said, “Putin’s Lil’ B***h,” although it was spelled “Putan.” Other posters, though, left me a little perplexed, such as “Only Socialism Can Stop Trump.” I thought, “That’s a tall order. Right now, we can’t even hold onto Obamacare. If we can only stop Trump with full-on socialism, oh,no, we may never get rid of him.” I got so lost in these thoughts, I was nearly crushed by the woman on stilts.
It all had me thinking: “Isn’t there a leftie protest, for middle-aged people who lean a bit center, that is pro-women, pro-immigrant rights, anti-racism, for criminal justice reform, wants regulation and a strong social-safety net, but also recognizes the need for a healthy private sector; is pro-public education and expanded health care, yet doesn’t think we can or should get rid of the military?” The chant would be: “Balanced progressive policies that we can get through Congress!”
The next day, I found that protest: yhe Women’s March. It was the first truly fine day since the election. Cities and towns across America were blanketed in protest pink. The turn-out was spectacular, made all the better by how much it pained Trump. We wound up at the White House chanting “Science, Science!” and even, “A—hole!” which is not “going high,” but gave us a high.
The March surpassed my expectations, especially since I learned beforehand that the organizers refused to add Hillary Clinton’s name to the list of those being honored, as they blame Trump’s win on her and thought she should not have been the nominee. Then at the rally, right by me passed a giant cardboard cutout of Hillary. I looked to my right and there was a guy arm-in-arm with his boyfriend, in a shirt with Hillary faces all over it. “I’m With Her” was everywhere. I guess their big plan to write the first female popular vote winner out of the Women’s March did not quite work out.
Before the March, there were warnings posted on Twitter: “Women, keep it safe!” Considering this was a group of mostly women, including many older ones, peaceful men, and entire families, was violence really a worry? I could just imagine: “Can you describe the woman who set the trash cans on fire?” “Well, she was pushing a stroller. She was with her 80-year-old mother-in-law. And her sign said ‘Unity.’” “Can you pick her out from this lineup?” “I don’t know which. They were all wearing those pink hats.”
The huge rallies across the country got under Trump’s thin skin and, thus, were a smashing success. He tweeted about it, asking why didn’t these people just vote? We did. You know those 66 million who voted for Clinton, three million more than voted for you? That’s us. We’re those “illegal” voters (although we can show you our birth certificates as we know you like to examine those). This is just the start. We will keep coming. And we’re growing.
Hilary Schwartz is a comedian and writer based in NYC with love (and hate) for politics. She is a regular contributor to Political Storm.