Two things happened today that made me come here to write.
First, the Women’s March, which was obviously successful beyond anything I could possibly have imagined.
But more importantly, Sean Spicer, the new White House press secretary gave one of the strangest, stupidest, most borderline incoherent press statements I’ve ever seen. He basically called the press to the briefing room, made them wait an hour, then yelled at them for 15 minutes for, among other things, purposefully making it look like Donald Trump’s inaugural was sparsely attended. He even went so far as to say “[t]his was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period” which not only isn’t true, but really, truthfully, doesn’t even matter.
Crowd size arguments are dumb. I’d have thought we would have learned that when everyone tried to use them to argue Bernie Sanders would beat Hillary Clinton. I didn’t even really like it when people used them to argue on President Obama’s behalf in 2008. But I took note of the empty spaces yesterday and the contrast with the teeming throngs of people on the mall today for a simple reason – I knew it would drive Donald Trump crazy. And lo and behold, he sent his press secretary out this evening to read the press the riot act. A riot act that was far more plausibly and authentically Trump than his inaugural address was yesterday.
I was on the fence about re-engaging. I was on the fence about continuing this project. I was on the fence about going back on social media and sharing my thoughts and involving myself in the Trump presidency in any way, even as an observer and occasional commenter. Today, the Women’s March proved we aren’t dead yet, and the Spicer fiasco proved that this is all very real.
The reason today was so successful, in my estimation, is that we had our time to process this. The actual inauguration, and attempting to roll the words “President Trump” around in our mouths was another shock to the system, but I feel we bore it better than we did the emotional blitzkrieg of election night.
But things are real now. Donald Trump and Republicans are now in control of the levers of power. They’re making tangible progress on what until now existed only as amorphous threats. What was once a potential threat on the horizon is now upon us, and while we have lots of choices as far as how to deal with it, only one makes sense. We may not have adequately prepared for the storm, but now that it’s here, we can’t pretend it’s safe to ignore it.
This means recognizing that today’s march is something everyone involved – by planning, or attending, or marching in their own town, or even supporting it in spirit from home – should be immensely proud of. But it’s not the end. It’s not even the beginning. It’s a prologue. Tomorrow will be even more important than today, as we try to maintain our momentum, to stay engaged, to try to end the day with a better grasp on things than we began it.
I started a habit of picking up my daughter a copy of AM New York. It’s a little weekday publication that’s basically the Reader’s Digest of a normal newspaper. I’m not forcing her to read it or to study it, but I’m hoping that by at least giving her access to it that she’ll find keeping up with what’s happening in the world useful. It would be immensely hypocritical of me if I went the opposite direction myself.
So, for now, I plan on writing in this space as often as I can. I also continue to urge, to implore any of whatever readership I have to do the same. Consider it an opportunity to keep your civics in shape. To exercise this newfound energy, and ready for the next four years, for the next four months, for the next four weeks of what needs to be a sustained, prolonged period of engagement. We can’t afford to be political couch potatoes any more. We can’t fall back into caring every two or four years and forfeiting our voices and “agreeing to disagree” because confrontation is uncomfortable.
This is no longer a dress rehearsal. This is the real thing. And there’s no room in the audience.