I did not vote for Donald Trump and I was just as dismayed as the rest of the Clinton voting block when he won the election in November. Around a month ago, I became aware of the marches and rallies that were happening around the world to protest his inauguration. I was thrilled.
When I left my house for the women’s march on Saturday, January 21, I was filled with enthusiasm. I was expecting to see righteous indignation every stripe. What I witnessed, instead, reminded me of why Donald Trump won.
As I stepped onto the street a few blocks from the rally, I nearly ran into a throng of pink-pussy hat wearing women as they walked arm and arm. As I saw them loosen their hold on each other, I was able to see the reason. They were stepping around homeless men who were pan-handling in the street. As I walked around downtown, I saw this happen repeatedly. I saw tent cities of the homeless being treated as Untouchables.
When I stopped to speak to one of the homeless men and take his portrait, I watched as the Jimmy Choo-wearing, Instagramming, boho protestors avoided me as if I were wearing a scarlet letter.
My friends often remark how comfortable I must be in California, such a font of “liberal thought.” I often chuckle and respond that everyone out here is liberal until they are asked to make a personal sacrifice, like paying a higher tax rate so as to support social programs – or a personal sacrifice such as helping a homeless man on the street. Progressivism requires personal sacrifice, a collective effort to better the world in which we live no matter what social caste we come from.
Protests are important and the women’s rally was certainly a good first step in protesting the new President. But after witnessing the ignored hardship of so many homeless who were often standing next to the rally, I began to wonder if this was a superficial level of commitment. I hope it was not.
When I returned home I became aware that women’s groups had been excluded from the rally if they were not pro-choice. A true social movement should be inclusive, even if there are disagreements in the ranks.
I saw a lot of good spirited chanting, clever posters, and incredibly ornate outfits at the women’s rally. I saw a lot of people making promises that they would protest every action that our new President takes. But when it came to tangible action – what I saw at the women’s rally did not fill me with hope. I was only reminded of why most of the nation sat on their couch and did not vote in November.