January 20, 2017 was the day that many feared. It was at 11:30 a.m., on Pennsylvania Avenue, in the rain that Donald Trump was sworn in as President of the United States. Some cheered, some cried, others expressed smug superiority and some contorted with anguish. The 2017 Inauguration was a historic day, regardless of which side you’re on.
Even before President Trump put his hand on the Bible protests, resistance and rage gripped the streets of D.C., and so began the wave of protests and demonstrations that would sweep the nation and the globe from D.C. to Los Angeles, to Berlin, Germany and Sydney, Australia.
It’s not a new thing for protests to occur with the election of a new leader — it’s well known that effigies of Barack Obama were burned in protest in 2009. But the scope of this weekend’s protests made national and international news.
The election and inauguration of Donald Trump has been met with rancor from those who voted for other candidates and the groups whom he demonized, mocked and endangered. In the days after the election the streets were filled with furious citizens speaking out against the Electoral College and the man it elected.
The one I attended in Albuquerque drew hundreds and ended with the protesters blocking the highway and vandalizing the city. It wasn’t the best way to protest, but it showed that the people weren’t going to take this new administration sitting down.
Since that time numerous attempts have been made to delegitimize Trump’s win — petitioning to remove the Electoral College, performing recounts in swing states, claims of hacking influencing the results, pleads to the electoral voters to act against their constituents — anything to assure that Trump wouldn’t make it to the Oval Office. Many of those attempts gained traction, some produced results, but in the end, The Donald took the oath and is now at the helm.
The thought that these efforts by the people ended in futility or unexpected turnouts, like in the Wisconsin vote recounts that produced results that gave Trump 1,000 extra votes, is disheartening and could leave the people in low spirits, defeated and hopeless. Fighting and resisting with the outcome remaining the same leaves one to wonder, “why bother?” But Rome wasn't built in a day and it took nearly 30 years for the Berlin Wall to fall.
We realize now that Rome fell due to complacency and the Berlin Wall fell when corruption and public scorn dismantled the Soviet Bloc. Clinton’s loss showed the complacency of Democratic voters as they were sure they would win when facing an opponent as outrageous as Trump. But he took the victory and nobody saw it coming. We were confident that we would win, and our confidence in our guaranteed states cut us down as we saw blue turn to red live on CNN.
Trump is now President, our efforts didn’t stop him, and we now know that nothing is guaranteed. So what happens now?
We keep fighting.
We now know that we can’t rely on the Electoral College and those in power to maintain a favorable status quo. And we’ve been questioning the system, and our mistrust will lead to higher involvement in what’ going on. If the system allows for such outcomes, how can we trust it?
The Inauguration drew anywhere from 250,000 to 600,000 people from all around the nation, depending on whose numbers you believe. This is a considerable crowd, but compare it to CNN’s figures of over one million people who protested on Jan 21st, all around the nation with an additional figure of over 500,000 in D.C.
The national protests and demonstrations showed that just because Trump made it into Office, the people weren’t going to stop fighting. The people will resist, the people will fight, and to fight those at the top we must fight those battles at the bottom of the political system.
These demonstrations urged people to get involved with their local elections, local politicians and local organizations. Involvement on the lowest level leads to changes on the highest. Trump and other populist leaders used the system to rise to where they are, we must do the same.
The system can work — so let’s work the system.
Fin Martinez is the culture editor at the Daily Lobo, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @FinMartinez.