March Now, Vote Later

I’m not impressed. Yet.

No, I’m not referring to DT–the perfect initials for the 45th president, as those initials also stand for “delirium tremens,” which is what everyone who voted for him must have been suffering from when they endorsed this extremist–but with those who are demonstrating against Mr. Trump. Yes, millions will take to the streets this weekend–in Washington, D.C. and all over the country–condemning the callousness of the man who has racial slurs running through his mind when he looks at John Lewis and Barack Obama. There will be speeches and songs, passion and protest, vigilance and vigor.

And it won’t be worth a damn if it’s not followed up with consistent voting on the part of those who oppose Trump’s agenda.

Heather Digby Parton has correctly observed:

[Trump’s] base is a bunch of uninformed, angry white men and the women who love them. Nothing he does matters except sticking it to the people they resent. And that’s everyone but people like them.

Here’s the thing, though: those “uninformed, angry white men and the women who love them” always show up, election after election, be it midterm, special or presidential. You can’t keep them away from the polls on Election Day. What about the rest of us?

Those who failed to show up at the polls on November 8 bear just as much responsibility for Mr. Trump’s rise to power as those who directly backed his candidacy. How many of the folks who will be demonstrating this weekend are doing so out of guilt over the fact that Mr. Trump became President because they fell for the nonsense that there was no moral, ethical or intellectual difference between Trump and Clinton, and thus chose not to vote at all? Those who will be severely hurt by Mr. Trump would appreciate it if these folks would apologize.

If these demonstrators don’t start voting as consistently as the right-wingers do, all the yelling and screaming in the world won’t matter, and Mr. Trump will leave office as a two-term President on January 20, 2025. If protesters from New Jersey and Virginia don’t both to show up in this year’s gubernatorial elections, their complaints will have no power. If protesters don’t show up for the November 6, 2018 midterm elections, their words will be worthless. If they don’t get engaged on a local and state level–the same way the right-wingers have done for decades–they’ll never have a national impact.

Former Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) nailed it going away a few years ago:

[Frank] said liberals sometimes draw the wrong lesson from the success of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. Frank said Gandhi and King were forced to resort to marches and demonstrations because they were representing groups that lacked the right to vote.

He said perhaps for that reason the conservative Tea Party has been more successful than the liberal Occupy Movement.

Frank said, “When the Right gets mad it votes, when the Left gets mad it marches.”

I’m not trying to knock the power of marching. Participating in the September 2014 People’s Climate March was one of the proudest moments of my life. However, the most important march one can make is the one to the polls, on a habitual basis. The Trump crowd understands this. They’ve understood it for years. Koch money, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News weren’t the only things that made the right so powerful in this country. Right-wing activists showed up at the polls consistently to advance a reactionary agenda. If those disgusted and troubled by Donald Trump don’t start demonstrating similar resolve every Election Day, then America’s light will fade away–and “American Carnage” will be real and not just rhetorical.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.