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Marching On


burklo-article(This woman was so excited to know that there are pro-choice, pro-economic justice,
pro-environment Christians that she asked to get a picture taken with me
and the banner! I had many encounters like this at the Women’s March in LA on 1/21.)

It wasn’t really a march at all. There were so many people crammed into the center of the city of Los Angeles that we could barely move. And there was nowhere to march in any case, since more and more people were pouring into Pershing Square from all directions – at least half a million, and probably many more.

Saturday was more a jam than a movement. A gigantic mass of humanity gravitationally drawn into the centers of cities, towns, and hamlets, great and small, all over the United States, with probably the biggest turnout of demonstrators in one day in the history of the country.

Like a cosmic singularity, the jam was so tight and strong, so energetic and energizing, that it ended with a Big Bang. The movement really began when the marchlesss marches ended, after the long waits at crowded subway stations. We got home, turned on our screens and gazed awestruck at the images of ourselves standing shoulder-to-shoulder, filling squares and boulevards and bridges, spilling into side-streets. Now we move from protest into organized, long-term activism to stop the inhumane, immoral, and unpopular agenda of Trump and the Republicans.

Trump is a loser – by nearly 3 million in the popular vote, and he is the least popular incoming president in the past 40 years. The Republicans need more reminders of this, every day for the next four years. Anyone who wonders what Trump means by the “forgotten man” need look no further than the lineup of forgettable plutocrats he’s chosen for his cabinet. Let’s not allow him forget us, the regular folks in the majority who voted against him, joined now by so many others who voted for him but are already disillusioned.

The demonstrations on Saturday were effective in putting Trump and company on the defensive on day one. We appear to have stiffened journalists’ spines to stand up to the outrageous mendacity of the new administration. I like to think that we emboldened one reporter on Sunday to declare that the Trump administration’s “alternative facts” were falsehoods. The press needs our encouragement to resist normalizing Trump’s lies. The survival of democracy is at stake.

Saturday was impressive, but our next steps on the march will exercize even greater people-power. Here are ways to turn Saturday’s spectacle into an effective resistance:

Swing Left – a strategy to retake the House of Representatives.

Indivisible – resisting the Trump agenda by mimicking the strategy used by the “Tea Party” to stymie Obama’s agenda. What worked so well for them can work just as well for us.

Votivator – something I started – to get everybody in the habit of voting in every election – by urging “voting nerds” like myself to be “votivators” who share voting choices with our friends, and urging others to seek out “votivators” for advice about how to vote. Copying the votes of people we respect is an honorable way to participate in democracy. Over time, followers of votivators can become votivators themselves. Trump would not have been selected by the states in the Electoral College if less than 200,000 people in key states had shown up to cast ballots – a tiny fraction of the 42% of eligible voters who stayed home on November 8.

Gatherings – another of my engagements. How can we rebuild democracy from the ground up, by creating new kinds of joyful, warm, civically-engaged, progressive, nonpartisan, nonsectarian communities? Remarkable “gatherings” of this sort are bubbling up all over the country. Let’s make this a movement….

To march ahead, we need to belong… each of us to one or more of the ongoing, committed, organized groups that are devoted to progressive civic and political engagement. My primary commitment is Progressive Christians Uniting . Our first action in the Trump era was visiting mosques up and down California to show solidarity and support to our Muslim friends and neighbors on Inauguration Day. Read the Huffington Post article about it here . Religion has been part of the political problem in America, and we aim to turn it around and make it part of the solution. What group is right for you?

Website: JIMBURKLO.COM Weblog: MUSINGS Follow me on twitter: @jtburklo
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Associate Dean of Religious Life, University of Southern California

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