A year ago, I packed a backpack, bought a portable charger for my cellphone, purchased a few snacks and a good book, and, with uncharacteristic chutzpah, boarded a bus bound for Washington, DC., after scoring one of the last available tickets. A plane ticket wasn’t in our budget, but we could swing a bus ticket. To know me at all is to know that I am non-confrontational to a fault, a self-proclaimed wuss. For me to get on a bus knowing no one else aboard and with a very uncertain couple of days ahead required extraordinary motivation. It wasn’t just knowing that I would have to sleep on the bus and then march the next day, not knowing if there would be any violent reactions. And it wasn’t just that I am much more the timid follower than the confident leader in such situations. It was the whole idea of the grand plan; protest marches aren’t—or weren’t—me. At all.
But I and hundreds of thousands of others were devastated at the thought of four years of a president that we already knew could be a disaster. It wasn’t rocket science to figure out what probably lay ahead based on the crassness, incompetence, and sheer stupidity demonstrated in the campaign alone. It didn’t bode well for the actual presidency. As it turns out, we were right in spades.
Now, a year into Trump’s presidency, the talk is once again about marches. But this January, the motivation isn’t what might happen, but what has happened. And the overall picture is ugly. We have a president whose leadership style is rooted in destruction and chaos. He is a bigot with no filter, moral fiber, or ability to speak the truth. A puffy, befuddled, egomaniacal man with an Obama obsession who will do whatever it takes to make obeisance to The Money, including yanking healthcare away from millions of people, many of them children. A misogynist who rapes the environment as surely as he has likely raped women. An idiot who refers to countries he disdains as ‘shitholes’ and brags about his penis on national television. A pitiful old man with little actual education, even less intelligence, and absolutely no skill set for his job. A leader supported solely by gullible fools, hypocritical so-called Christians, and soulless lawmakers whose primary concern is themselves.
Last January, there was still a touch of uncertainty in the air, a tiny chance that what we feared, might not actually come to pass. I, myself, had trouble believing fully that the horrible vision we had of the future would actually become reality. I was enough of a Pollyanna to hang onto a grain of hope, however minuscule, that Trump might rise to the occasion once officially in office, that he would pull it together and be as ‘presidential’ as he promised repeatedly that he could and would be. But I was worried, actually terrified, enough that I bought that bus ticket and rode into what seemed like a very scary unknown. And I’m very glad that I did, because being a part of something that significant made me just a touch braver. I went from knowing no one on that trip to being part of a million-member collective with the same resolve and the same fears for the future of the nation.
On January 20, the collective will once again gather in cities around the country and march to protest the first year of the disastrous administration we envisioned. I’m not heading to D.C. this time, but I will be marching here in my own city. This time, family members will be joining me, the men included. The mission is clear: make our concerns very clear and, ultimately, focus loud national attention on the dire necessity of removing Trump from office before the damage he keeps inflicting becomes permanent. I won’t miss the all-night bus ride, the impossibly long lines for the porta-potties, the long walks to get to where we needed to be, or the disapproving glares wherever the bus stopped. But honestly, I will miss that feeling that maybe, just maybe, it would all be alright, that Trump would get his shit together and be able to conduct the business of running the country with some degree of competence and dignity. The feeling that vanished very shortly after he took office. This year, I won’t be marching in fear so much as in outrage.
If you can, I encourage you to join us in your own city. Get angry if you aren’t already and turn that into action. I can tell you from experience that, no matter what effect the gatherings across the nation will have on our current situation, the solidarity with thousands, probably hundreds of thousands, of likeminded people will most likely have a positive effect on you. And that feeling will be something in which to wrap yourself as you face the remaining days of the Trump administration.
Other commentaries by Gail Barth:
Fire and Fury: Review
Can the Presidency Survive Trump?
Where’s the Outrage?
Santa, You Screwed Us Over
The ABCs of Trump