‘Resist Trump’ goes global
Consider these astounding numbers: 750,000 in Los Angeles; 500,000 in Washington, D.C.; 500,000 in New York City; 250,000 in Chicago; 150,000 in San Francisco; 150,000 in Boston; 150,000 in Denver; 100,000 in Oakland; 100,000 in London. These numbers represent some of the largest demonstrations that took place on Jan. 21, ignited by the inauguration of the racist, misogynistic, xenophobic Donald Trump as the 45th U.S. president.
It is estimated that more than 4 million people, the vast majority of them women, participated in women’s marches in more than 500 U.S. cities. They also protested in more than 100 cities outside the U.S. — on every continent, including Antarctica. These estimated numbers were compiled by Jeremy Pressman (@djpressman) at the University of Connecticut and Erica Chenoweth (@ericachenoweth) at the University of Denver based on numerous media reports, including Facebook and Twitter.
Not since the massive global protests on the weekend of Feb. 15-16, 2003, right before the U.S. war on Iraq, have so many people come out in the streets on the same day in solidarity and resistance — this time with women’s rights the major focus. Due to the sheer numerical magnitude of these demonstrations, the J21 marches could not be ignored by the mainstream media or the incoming Trump administration.
What started out as a modest call for a Jan. 21 march against Trump by one Hawai’i-based woman on Facebook, on the night of the Nov. 8 presidential election, exploded into an earth-shattering phenomenon. Social media was used once again as the catalyst to catapult millions of people into the streets against — especially — every woman-hating view that Trump represents.
And these protests not only took place in large- and medium-sized urban areas. According to NBC News on Jan. 21, in many smaller cities and towns, at least 20 percent or more of the general population attended J21 marches. To put these astronomical numbers into a broader perspective, it is estimated that 160,000 people attended Trump’s inauguration in Washington, a third of the number that attended J21 in D.C. (New York Times, Jan. 22.)
Who attended J21 and why
While at the largest U.S. marches, Democratic Party forces, Hollywood celebrities, labor leaders, social-democratic and moderate elements dominated rally stages, the majority of those in the streets were either on the left or were open to more radical politics. Many women were receptive to anti-capitalist, pro-socialist ideas.
The women who attended were mostly young, including children, but there were also older women, people with disabilities, lesbian, bisexual, trans and gender nonconforming people. While the social composition was overwhelming white, there were many Black, Latinx, Asian, Muslim and Indigenous women.
Imaginative signs and banners called for reproductive justice, especially in lieu of the Affordable Care Act being dismantled by Trump; in defense of Black Lives Matter, immigrant rights and Planned Parenthood; for $15 and a union; for housing, education, childcare and clean water; an end to war and occupation; and many calling to “Dump Trump.” There were signs that said “Make America Think Again,” a play on Trump’s “Make America Great Again” theme, and one that stated “Sorry world — we will fix this.”
These marches helped to empower women who are justifiably angered and disgusted by Trump’s “pussy grabbing” and other degrading attitudes and actions against women, along with his anti-immigrant hate mongering. It was clear to this writer, who attended the New York City march, that so many women agreed that every social and economic issue is a woman’s issue, and with the need for solidarity, especially with the most oppressed and marginalized women.
Why is J21 so important?
It is becoming painfully clear that one day of massive global marches will not reverse the global attacks on women’s rights, rooted in worldwide capitalist austerity. In his full first day in office, Trump is moving ahead with plans to gut the U.S. Department of Justice’s violence against women programs. If Congress carries out Trump’s wishes, federally funded programs such as local rape crisis centers and even the National Domestic Violence Hotline will be shut down. Already there has been an increase in sexual assaults, including rape, on women of all ages — on college campuses, in high schools, in the military and in the home.
Women’s groups are asking people to call on their local Democratic congressional representatives to vote against these cuts. But this is not enough.
The Democratic Party has proven itself to be impotent when it comes to fighting the extreme right wing in the Republican Party. That’s because the Democratic and Republican parties represent the interests of big business, not the multinational working class and especially not women.
The Democratic Party is more interested in retaking any lost congressional seats during the 2018 midterm elections and the reins of the White House in 2020. They are hoping to bring the millions of women who came out on J21 into their ranks for the vote.
The billionaire ruling class had their hopes and dreams on Hillary Clinton becoming the next president because she is an unapologetic imperialist schooled to use diplomacy to carry out cutbacks at home and war abroad.
Now corporate America has to depend on the undiplomatic Trump to carry out the next round of austerity in the U.S. that the majority of the world has been experiencing since the 2007-08 banking crisis. This has led to an irreversible crisis of decline for worldwide capitalism.
While austerity for the working class is on a collision course with Trump’s campaign promises to increase U.S. jobs, his nominee for labor secretary — blatantly anti- worker, pro-austerity — falls right into line.
It cannot be lost that the more than 670 J21 marches here and worldwide show that women, no matter where they live, are feeling the brunt of political and economic attacks from the forces of reaction. The Trump election is now fueling the flames of fightback. The challenge for revolutionaries everywhere is to unite to help guide those who want to turn the fightback into a worldwide movement for real revolutionary, systemic change. J21 shows that women will lead the way with building such a movement.