Donald Trump was probably feeling a little antsy on Saturday. On the first anniversary of his presidential inaugural, the Republican expected to be at his private club in Florida, but was instead stuck at the White House, detached from the process surrounding the government shutdown, pretending to be busy.
Assuming Trump turned on the television – as is his wont – the president likely saw coverage of a shutdown he helped create, but was powerless to end, coupled with coverage of massive national protests, featuring legions of activists who are resisting his agenda.
So, naturally, Trump thought it’d be a good idea to take credit for the progressive activism. “Get out there now to celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 12 months,” the president declared.
In reality, of course, Trump’s presidency hasn’t had any “historic milestones” – at least none that he should be bragging about – and the health of the economy has plenty of precedent. But even putting that aside, if Trump wasn’t clear on the motivation behind the events over the weekend, he wasn’t paying close enough attention.
Demonstrators and activists gathered in cities worldwide on Sunday for a second day of Women’s Marches, a year after millions worldwide rallied to highlight women’s issues and challenge the presidency and policies of Donald Trump. […]
The largest demonstrations [on Saturday] appeared to take place in Los Angeles, where authorities said there were about 600,000 attendees, and in New York, where about 200,000 people participated. Tens of thousands has also gathered in Oakland and San Diego, according to authorities. Demonstrators also rallied in Milwaukee, Denver, Dallas, as well as Montgomery, Alabama, and many other towns and cities all over the country.
The NBC affiliate in Chicago put the estimated total of participants in the city’s Women’s March at 300,000, a figure that “exceeded both expectations on turnout as well as the attendance at last year’s march, organizers said.”
One of the core messages of the marches from last January was participants declaring, “We will not go away.” Twelve months later, it’s clear they’ve honored that commitment: this is a movement that endures.
Indeed, I continue to wonder if activism of this scope, and on this scale, is an underappreciated national story. In 2010, if a few dozen guys with tea bags and tricorn hats got together in a park, it was seen as an important development. Nearly eight years later, news consumers are treated to “Trump voters still like Trump” stories with unsettling frequency – as if supporters of a historically unpopular president are the constituency that deserves the most attention right now.
But whether those who marched over the weekend are able to keep the spotlight or not, the fact remains that the Women’s Marches represent some of the most impressive political activism in a generation.
After last year’s events, I said, “The political world may be frequently jaded and cynical about the electorate’s whims, but Saturday’s marches and rallies demanded attention. To look past them is to ignore a brewing backlash of national significance.” A year later, that backlash is bigger, louder, and hopefully more intimidating for those who stand in their way.