A couple of million people in America and 600 other places rallied and marched yesterday to signify that we will not be silenced. In response to our world-wide gatherings, the newly inaugurated president of the United States falsely claimed that a larger crowd attended his inauguration than had marched on Washington. He also asked, “Why didn’t these people vote?”
We did vote, sir. (Except the children, of course, of which there were many.) In fact, let us be very clear about the vote, sir. You lost the popular vote. Lost. You received 62,979,636 votes, or 46.10% of the popular vote. Secretary Clinton received 65,844,620 votes, or 48.20% of the popular votes. Other candidates received 7,804,213 votes, or 5.70% of the popular vote. In case you had missed this fact, sir, “the popular vote” equals the number of people that voted for you, or against you. Let’s say this one more time, sir: You lost the popular vote. By 73, 648,823 votes.
Here’s another fact: Even Fox News admits that your popularity sank to an extraordinarily low level right before your inauguration. Their survey on 18 January 2017 showed your approval rating as 37%. Even conceding that statistics and polls can often obfuscate the true situation, as the pundits learned in the 2016 election — still, you must understand, sir, that you do not have a mandate, nor do most of us trust, like, or admire you. Fifty-three point nine percent of the American people did not vote for you, sir.
As noted by politico.com, you, sir, are the most unpopular president to take office in the modern era, worse even than the second Bush:
“That, according to The Washington Post, makes Trump the least-popular incoming president of the past 40 years — by a large margin. Eight years ago, ABC News/Washington Post polling showed Barack Obama with a 79 percent favorable rating. Even George W. Bush — who lost the popular vote and was designated the next president only after a protracted recount in Florida — had a 62 percent favorable rating on the eve of his inauguration.”
Now that I have clarified the true nature of the current sentiment about the newly-inaugurated president, I’d like to share a few observations about yesterday and about our nation.
In case you did not attend a rally in one of the 600+ participating cities yesterday, let me enlighten you. At least in Kansas City, the message focused on the positive more than the negative. Speaker after speaker urged us to have faith in America; to have hope; and to soldier on, believing that our federal government will work for us if we hold it accountable. They also encouraged us to call our elected officials, run for office, and to volunteer in shelters for immigrants and with agencies serving the homeless, survivors of family violence, and the poor.
But we also heard stories of discrimination, sexual assault, police dismissal of assault victims based on their age and presumed sexual experience, the devastation and despair experienced by working parents trying to survive on the non-living minimum wage, and children who know no other homeland quivering in fear of deportation.
One of the most powerful moments of the day for me came when a young woman told us of the three men who broke into her apartment and raped her while she lay in bed next to her two-year-old daughter. In a loud, determined, but trembling voice, she recounted how the investigating officer kept the paramedics from examining her “because he had a few more questions”. He proceeded to ask her if she had an account on Tinder, a dating app; whether she ever invited men home; whether she had been drinking. He interrogated the rape victim in her own home while she held her crying two-year-old daughter who had been in the bed while three men raped her mother.
Victim-shaming. Assuming the woman is at fault. Telling rape victims that they could have avoided what happened to them if they had just been more careful. But I’ve been a rape victim, and I can tell you that I did not make the choice to be a rape victim. I weighed less than ninety pounds at the time, and my attacker was an off-duty police officer friend of my then-police officer boyfriend. I did not expect to be raped. I did not ask to be raped. I did not open my legs to that man. He made that choice. So let’s make this perfectly clear: Victims of sexual assault are not to blame. The assaulters wear that mantle. Or should.
But now that America has elected a man who brags about assaulting women, what assurance do we have that assault will remain a crime?
Now that we have elected a man backed by white extremists, one of whom co-wrote his inauguration speech, what assurance do we have that this administration will not send America back to the days when non-whites (whatever that means to Trump) must submit to being second-class Americans?
And this we know will happen: A woman’s right to choose will be attacked by our Congress and our Supreme Court, because the newly-inaugurated president has promised that he will put an anti-abortion justice on the bench.
Before the election, a Trump-supporter whose intelligence I have long admired and for whom I care very deeply told me that I did not know Trump and that he was not the sexual predator and bigot portrayed by the media. I listened, as I always do, largely without comment. I do not like to have conflict with people for whom I hold affection and regard.
But upon Trump’s inauguration, the pages on the White House and other government websites supporting equal rights for gay, Lesbian, and trans-gender Americans and climate change laws went dark, and the executive order beginning the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act before a replacement can be crafted got signed.
In case you missed it, the Affordable Care Act protects health insurance for those with pre-existing conditions; assures health insurance for working-class individuals who cannot otherwise afford it; increases care options for seniors, and allows us to keep our children on family plans until age 26, among other provisions.
Which of these provisions are harmful to Americans? As far as I could tell by listening to my pro-Trump friend, what those who detest the ACA dislike starts and ends with the mandate to have health insurance and for certain-sized employers to make it available to their employees. So why throw out the baby with the bathwater?
My friends in Europe constantly ask me why Americans do not have universal health care. Newsflash: According to the World Health Organization, “All UN Member States have agreed to try to achieve universal health coverage (UHC) by 2030, as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.” This includes the USA, folks. The unanimous resolution was adopted on 12 December 2012. The USA became the 33rd nation to provide some form of universal health care with the Supreme Court’s 2013 upholding of the Affordable Care Act. Note that the U.S. was 18 years behind Israel, and 101 years behind Norway.
Women, men, and their children marched yesterday in huge throngs to send an undeniable signal to the new administration. We do not want to regress, sir. We do not want to submit to your pussy-grabbing ways. We do not want to be divided. As Rabbi Doug Alpert avowed in Kansas City yesterday, and Gloria Steinem proclaimed in New York, if you require Muslims to register, we will all register as Muslims.
We will #StandTogether, because we are #StrongerTogether. 73,646,523 people standing together cannot be ignored. We are the majority — 53.90% of the American people, and we are not a silent majority.
Our voices will be heard.