On Saturday, Jan. 21, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, my wife Tina and I attended the march on the Brunswick town mall. The crowd was surprisingly large for a small town — well over 500 people — spirited and civil. We later learned of the huge demonstrations throughout the U.S. and around the world. Clearly, this day was historic, a reminder of the civil rights marches and Vietnam protests in the 1960s.
The local march was an offshoot of the Women’s March in Washington. While women’s rights took a prominent role — pro-choice, equal pay, anti-oppression — the marches also represented a resounding repudiation of the “vision” and “values” of Trump.
The new “president” later had the temerity to designate Jan. 20, 2017, as “ National Day of Patriotic Devotion.” I put the words “vision” and “values” in quotes in the preceding paragraph, because Trump’s vision and values do not align with mine or with the millions of people who took to the streets to declare, “No, that is not what we stand for! That is not who we are!”
In true Trumpian fashion, the president chided the protestors for not voting. Actually, I’m quite sure that the vast majority of marchers had voted, but truth-telling has never been Trump’s strong suit. His fellow serial liar, er, alternate truth teller, er, spokesperson Kellyanne Conway, snarled about the marches, saying, “Frankly, I don’t see the point.” Well, let me try to help Conway (and other Trump defenders) see the point. Let me explain why so many people turned out to gather and protest on that day.
We still believe in the American ideal that all men and women are created equal. We do not believe that women should be second-class citizens in any way. Women and men, for example, should have the responsibility for decisions affecting their own bodies.
We still believe in the welcoming words that appear at the base of the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.” Conversely, we do not buy the “ship ‘em all back” and “build a wall” mantras.
We still believe in the separation of church and state. America is not a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. It is a nation that protects the right of every individual to worship whether and how they choose to do so. I’m puzzled that people who claim to be patriotic, Constitution-loving Americans can so adamantly try to force their religious views and biases on their fellow citizens. I’m equally puzzled why 81 percent of white Christian evangelicals voted for Trump, a man whose life and words and actions are so diametrically opposed to those of Jesus Christ, at least as I understand them.
We do not believe that voting districts should be gerrymandered to ensure the re-elections of a member of one party or another. And we do not believe that it should be made more difficult to vote; rather, it should be made easier for people to vote.
We believe in the freedom of the press — another constitutional guarantee. We do not believe that members of the press should be bullied and belittled, even though such rantings play well among a certain segment of the populace.
We believe that climate change is a reality, not a hoax, as Trump has claimed. For that reason, we do not think that trashing environmental regulations, say, or withdrawing from the Paris agreement on climate change makes sense from the point of view of America — or the world.
In fairness, some people voted for Trump despite his obvious personal failings because they believed his promise to bring jobs back to America. He said — and his inaugural speech confirmed — that he wanted to stand up for the little guy. That all sounds good. But Trump’s Cabinet nominees — indeed, his entire business track record — put the lie to that claim. He set forth a slate of billionaires to serve in the Cabinet and work on behalf of the little guy, the forgotten American? What’s wrong with that picture? What am I missing?
I would argue, then, that those who marched on Saturday are very patriotic Americans, good citizens with the best interests of this country at heart. We will continue to rise up and stand for true America’s values. Our very future depends on it.
David Treadwell is a Brunswick writer.