With the cloud cover and dripping rain, I wondered, why did everybody look and sound so happy. I think like my friend people looked around at the crowd and realized they were not alone in their concerns. Getting out, seeing real people not just those on TV and seeing a massive crowd standing up for decency toward each other was like coming into the sunlight after being trapped in a dark cave with only a weak flashlight. We were out in the light and taking action to support those issues that we care about. It felt good.
What are the issues people cared about? This being Washington State, many people carried signs about protecting our environment. One sign read, “There is no planet B.” Other people talked about protecting our national parks and public lands. Here on the West Coast people are well aware that the earth sustains and feeds us. We must take care of our habitat so we can eat and breath clean air. The concern is that our president has advocated for allowing private companies to conduct mining operations in our national parks. He has suggested selling our public lands to private individuals, which would compromise fishing, logging, and tourist industries.
Similar to those who were concerned about the environment, a segment of the protestors where promoting science. How on earth did science get a bad rap in the first place? Why should scientific method need advocates and protection? When, why and how did people stop respecting science? Science deniers are not new. They’ve been around since time began. But, why in this age, after all scientific method has produced, do we find this disrespect for science? I was happy to see those who came to stand up for science.
Of course with congress chomping at the bit to dismantle the ACA, I saw many signs like the one that read, “Replace Before Repeal.” Some people advocated single payer. Other people supported Planned Parenthood. I saw some signs about Medicare, drug prices, affordable insurance and many, many signs with uteri on them.
As a side-issue to health care, abortion and a woman’s right to choose were a prominent theme at the march. The march was not specifically about abortion, but it was one topic that was mentioned along with the other topics people were concerned about. “Keep it Safe and Keep it Legal,” seemed to me to be the message of the abortion advocates.
Voting rights advocates came out to protest gerrymandering and voter suppression. Washington State with our mail-in system is really very open, but we do have some serious districting issues. One district straddles a major mountain range so that the votes on one side of the mountains cancel the votes on the other side of the mountains and neither group gets adequate representation. Their Federal Rep. is a bought-and-paid-for puppet for the oligarchs. He could not have been elected if the district where he lives was not diluted by those on the other side of the mountains who don’t know what type of person he is and got swept up by glossy ads.
Education advocates formed a noticeable presence at our March. Some signs protested the appointment of DeVos. Other signs read things like, “Fund the Future, Fund Education.” The American school system needs to re-examine what is working for whom and what isn’t. Science might help schools find schedules and programs that are more effective. It should seem obvious to everybody that education is vital to a democracy, but like science, education is receiving a bad rap in our culture. Yes, our massive systems have problems, but those problems are fixable. Why should people need to come out in the rain to advocate for a system that mostly works? The need for education advocates to demonstrate seems to me to be a symptom of something seriously wrong in our society.
I saw signs focused on the current POTUS. Most of the signs focused on issues like the tax returns and conflict of interest. Some signs decried his sexist remarks about grabbing women. On the topic of sexual assault, about a third of the women present wore pink pussy hats. In case anyone is in doubt, grabbing women anywhere is wrong. Women do have the right to defend their private areas. I considered getting a pink hat, but later decided I wanted to focus on a more general theme.
Justice may have been one of the most prominent themes at our march. My sign read People Before Profits, which spanned several of the topics. Several people came dressed as Lady Liberty. I saw a few signs about criminal justice, equal pay, equal rights. I saw lots of rainbow flags and signs requesting we respect all marriages. Some signs addressed specific justice issues, others supported the Bill of Rights, especially the first amendment.
Curiously, the three million people who turned out in all weather all over the globe to demonstrate have been roundly criticized for gathering, for not supporting the current POTUS, for not trusting the government to do what is right, for doing something unnecessary, and for disturbing the peace.
I don’t think they understand what was happening. First, marching was healing. It proved to be educational. It was a call for justice. Mostly, the marches provided an opportunity for large numbers of people to meet and see that others shared their concerns. We talked to each other. We were nice to each other. We were united. We turned out with our concerns for the future, met others with similar concerns and came away feeling that there is hope for taking our nation and our world in a direction that offers justice and health for everybody.