Last week I went to my first protest march of 2018. This was the second Women’s March, subtitled the March to the Polls. Although I have missed an occasional midterm election, I have voted in every presidential election since I turned 18. It saddened me when my younger son didn’t even register in time to vote in 2016 because he felt it didn’t matter. One goal of this year’s march was to register more voters.
I suspect most of us were there to share our outrage at politics as they stand. While waiting to march, too far back to hear the speeches, people were checking their phones and muttering about the government shut down. Blame who you will, the government should not close. It is not a store, it is not a union operation that may go on strike. It seems increasingly that our government officials are shielded from accountability. They are rich, have great health care, if the government shuts down they still get paid, if they harass women their legal fees are paid for by we the taxpayers. The things that don’t work in our democracy do not affect them directly at all. I fear that even if we vote the old guard out, the new guard will probably not be any better.
This year’s march surprised me in its numbers. I heard that here in Chicago we had between 250,000 and 300,000 marchers. I missed most of the speeches and tired of standing waiting for the actual march to begin. When I moved closer to the speakers and could hear bits and pieces, I was unimpressed. The speeches seemed more politics as usual mixed with some self-promotion. The protest signs were the best part, as they were last year. There is so much creativity in people’s wrath. All those women, all those pink hats. Yes, and men, children, LGBTQ folks and people of color. While I would have liked to see the march more representative of all Chicagoans, it was a day to remember.
I still intend to protest and vote. I have thought long and hard about a more active form of advocacy and remain stuck before implementation. In the meantime, see you at the polls.