My sincere wish was my protest days were over. Had Hillary Clinton won the presidency they would have been. In recent days, I have often thought if all the young people who have marched and demonstrated since the election had understood how dangerous Trump would be she would now be president having won not only the popular vote by millions but the Electoral College as well.
Instead, since Donald Trump’s election and inauguration protests have again become a way of life for those of us who care about our country and democracy. In my youth I met Martin Luther King, Jr. and fought for civil rights. I marched with Bella Abzug and Gloria Steinem for women’s rights. Got tear gassed in front of the Department of Justice protesting the Vietnam War and picketed the White House for disability rights. Joined Hands-around-the-White House, among other demonstrations, to bring attention to the fight against HIV/AIDS and marched with Elizabeth Taylor in a candlelight procession demanding Ronald Reagan stand up to fight the scourge of AIDS. I was on the Mall marching to fight for LGBT rights. Guess it was too much to hope that at my age I could stop marching and protesting and enjoy the fruits of what we accomplished.
In just the last week I have participated in the Women’s March on Washington and demonstrated in front of the White House to protest Trump’s executive order that tries to ban Muslims from entering the country. I am on the planning committee for the June 11th LGBT Pride March in Washington. Once again there are compelling reasons demanding us to stand up and be heard. Along with millions of other Americans who are clearly feeling the same need we will stand together and speak out because we know Silence = Death.
In just one week the Trump White House is turning the world upside down. He is fighting with Mexico, debating climate change with Prince Charles, leaving out any mention of Jews in his statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day, and banning residents from seven Muslim countries from entering the United States. He has reorganized the National Security Council removing the director of National Intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from the principals committee, which is the meeting for the most senior national security officials and instead adding his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who was formerly executive chair of Breitbart News, a far-right news, opinion and commentary website that Bannon himself described as “the platform of the Internet-based alt-right” including Nazis and the KKK. Protesters at the White House correctly chanted “End the immigration ban, instead ban Bannon”.
Hundreds of thousands across the nation and the world took to the streets and airports to tell Trump he is wrong and make him understand in reality his ban makes things more dangerous for Americans. The people are speaking and they will continue to do so being joined by business leaders and members of Congress who will not go quietly into the night while Donald Trump and his Rasputin, Steve Bannon, trample on our Constitution.
We must continue to march, protest and organize. Join and support organizations that will defend us and serve us such as the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Then Democrats need to stop fighting each other and stop demanding perfection in our candidates because that is what elected Trump. The Susan Sarandons and Ralph Naders of the world now have the gall to tell us not to stop protesting when it was they, by their stupidity and short-sightedness, who said there was no difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and therefore voting for Clinton wasn’t important.
We must elect a Democratic Congress in 2018. Even the most imperfect Democrat will vote for a Democratic Speaker of the House and Majority Leader in the Senate and Democrats will control the agenda and can stop Trump. That has to be the goal in 2018 and we need to stop the internecine fights in order to do that. Blowhards like Michael Moore think it is fine to threaten Democrats who don’t agree with him on everything with primary challenges. All that will do is make it easier for Republicans to win. Let us work together for at least the next two years and focus on taking Congress and our country back.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.