The Pussy Hat Rebellion

It felt like the sixties. There were the ghastly transportation struggles to get to the actual demonstration. The earnest concerns of the demonstrators were almost palpable. Above all, there was the sense of comradeship and fun. Even the symbol of the demonstration- a knitted pink hat with cat’s ears- poked sly fun at The Donald’s hot mike incident and the lack of respect it showed for women. The signs were home-made and showed a wide variety of anti-Trump sentiments, from the serious “Women’s Rights are Human Rights” to “Keep Your Tiny Hands Off My…” Alas, as I walked across Boston Common, my joints reminded me that I wasn’t still thirty, no matter how familiar the demonstration looked. But the more than a hundred thousand people on the Common was witness to a statement I have been making to younger people: the progressive movement now has its best opportunity in the last fifty years.

It would be nice to report that Trump paid some attention to the half million or so demonstrators who came to Washington to shout their defiance outside his window. Even Nixon went down to the Mall on one occasion and had conversations with demonstrators. Our new President, however, was busily engaged in his favorite game, “Mine is bigger than yours.”
In this instance, the “mine” was his crowd at the inauguration versus that of Barack Obama.

In their own ways, both Trump and some Democrats made a similar point: the election is over and the protesters should have made their views known at the ballot box. This is nonsense, of course; those very responsible people almost certainly voted and many of them probably worked hard for Hillary Clinton. More importantly, this argument obscures the fact that Clinton gave them (us) precious little reason to feel enthusiastic. Having available the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party, some of whose planks were forced on her, she managed to run a campaign that left cold a significant part of the Democratic base. Hillary and her chosen technocrats ran the kind of campaign they wanted;
the election was hers to lose and lose it she did.

Inevitably, the Pussy Hat rallies had a diversity of speakers (in the case of Boston, there were two Native American speakers, not including Elizabeth Warren). And, yes, the crowd was mostly middle class. There was some labor sponsorship, but the demonstrators were not working people, on the whole. This should not concern even those of us who want more attention paid to the needs of poor and working people. Social Democracy is an ideology of human liberation, and while it certainly includes economic justice, it also covers a broad spectrum from gender equality to equality of sexual orientation. To borrow from Sheri Berman, Social Democracy is a cross-class coalition. From moment to moment, groups of us will emphasize one aspect or another. While doing so, it is important that we not lose sight of our role of fighting against all forms of oppression.

10 thoughts on “The Pussy Hat Rebellion

  1. Nice post. Although I don’t care for the idea that things have to get worse before they can get better, in this case, that’s the way it has to be. My kids, 8 and 10, were getting their first taste of activism at the DC march, the biggest of many I’ve seen in this city. They will be next generation. As one of the slogans said, “Fired up! Ready to Go!” We have to win this.

  2. My partner and I would like to take exception to what President Trump said and how the writer characterized the masses who rallied and marched from coast to coast against the President’s agenda..Here in the retirement community of St. Petersburg we had the biggest march ever in the Tampa Bay area As everywhere else our events were non-partisan and definitely were not pro-what’s-her-name-Clinton or pro-Democratic Party in nature. Trump in his Tweet asked “why we didn’t vote”? We answer we did vote in the tens of millions by NOT voting for either of the candidates of the twin parties of the American Oligarchy or voting for third party or independent candidate in protest.

    Dave Maynard
    Seat 1, Hillsborough County Soil and Water Conservation Board (reelected)

    • Sorry, but if you like your democracy, “not voting” is not an option. In this case, since we lost Bernie Sanders, we are forced to choose the lesser of 2 evils. Not very palatable, but better than getting the worse of 2 evils.

  3. My impression is that there were no Republicans and damn few third party supporters at the Boston rally which I attended. I yield to no one in my distaste for Hillary Clinton,
    but I worry about the millions of sick people who have to use emergency rooms for whatever care they get, about the millions of workers who will stay in poverty because the minimum wage will not be increased, about the fresh attempt to destroy the little that’s left of the labor movement, etc.,etc. If you pure souls in St. Petersburg think there
    is no difference between Trump and Clinton, then let the consequences be on your consciences.

  4. I agree with you Eldon Clingan. I would just like to add Social Security to the losses we are going to suffer under Trump. Bernie Sanders warned us this was not the time to do a protest vote….too bad so many failed to get the message. We have all seen what happens to people who go into ER with no insurance: they get to sit there until they die. It is a convenient way of disposing of the poor in this world. Republicans feel that health insurance is a “privilege” and not a “right.” Under that premise, there will be fewer and fewer with health insurance in this nation due to the continuing concentration of wealth in the 1%.

  5. I did vote for Hillary, like many it was a vote “not for Trump” as well. Again, like many I was very flabbergasted Trump won. The democratic process doesn’t always go the way you expect. I thought the pink kitty hats were cute fashion kinda thing… now I get it. I have great hope for women’s movement to blunt the entire mind set of Trump administration. If Trump would admit he is psychopathic, that would be first step to healing. That is remote, so the power of women’s voices must be heard. good luck, matt

  6. I would like say to my fellow Americans who chose not to vote, you did just what Trump was banking on… not voting, you allowed him to win. The same applies to third party voters. Jill Stein could not bring herself to withdraw from the race and thus divided and weakened the Democratic party even further. Together, it has devastated this beautiful nation. It is worth remembering that millions of American men and women have given their lives in our wars for your right to cast a vote. Nor is it just a simple vote. It is the one time in our lives that we are all equal in this nation with “one man, one vote.” That means my vote is equal to the President’s vote. Amazing isn’t it?

  7. Virginia, your comments are spot on. It is a long standing principle of SDUSA that we do not engage in protest votes. By all means, protest. But not in the voting booth. The goal of fielding candidates and campaigning is to win elections. Bernie did the right thing. He ran as a Democrat, and we endorsed him. When he didn’t win, he worked to move the Democratic Party platform to the left. He then supported Hillary to try to get this platform put into action. We endorsed that effort as well. The Green Party needs to stop fielding presidential candidates. They have no governors, no Congress members, I don’t even know if they have a single state legislator in the entire country. But yet they run a presidential candidate. Arrogance. Clinton lost Wisconsin by 27k votes. Stein got 31k votes. Elections matter. We now have a fascist party running the federal government. Millions of people marched for women’s rights on Saturday, and Congress and the WH are free to ignore them. And they will. Elections matter.

  8. I think this rebellion is the beginning of a big awakening in this nation. Right now we have this energy that began with Bernie Sanders, and it is still expanding and growing in intensity. I would like to see it focused on an issue that mirrors what we stand for as a nation, and that is we are the citadel of democracy in the world. Are we now going to turn our back on that? Trump is cozying up to our enemies and stabbing our friend, Mexico in the back. Building a $15 billion wall to alienate our long-time friend and neighbor, destroying their already precarious economy and casting them into an irreversible poverty will only accomplish one thing: it will drive our friend and neighbor on our southern border into the arms of the Chinese, and then we will have China instead of Mexico as a neighbor. Better to focus this rebellion on defeating Trump’s wall, and not only save the $15 billion we are going to have to absorb in taxes, but more importantly, preserve our long-standing friendship with our neighbor to the south. Let the Pink Hat Rebellion stand up and shout to Trump and the world………….. NO NO NO WALL.

  9. on a Ted Talk, Ms.Raqib, offered the answer I’ve been waiting for. Wanna get rid of Trump? in fact, he will resign and crawl back in his hole. Listen to Raqib, get creative. I know the pussy hats can do it. “the secret to effective non violent resisance”. Rather brillant . thanks, matt

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