Tag Archives: rally

Welcome to the Resistance

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to speak to a “Women’s Rally for Change,” along with the Executive Director of Planned Parenthood and the Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor. The purpose was to discuss how to resist the coming assault on women and minorities, and to answer the increasingly common–and increasingly urgent– question: what can I do? What specific actions can I take?

The Rally was promoted only by Facebook posts; organizers hoped a hundred women might attend. We were stunned when five hundred women crammed into a space meant for far fewer, and another four hundred had to be turned away. (Future events, in larger venues, will be posted to a Facebook page established in the wake of the event: Women4ChangeIndiana.)

Several people who could not attend have asked me for copies of my remarks, so I’m posting them here. (Regular readers of this blog will find much of what follows repetitive….sorry about that!)

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We are facing divisions in this country unlike anything we’ve seen since the 60s, or maybe the Civil War. If America is to emerge reasonably intact, we need to look honestly at what just happened.

The ugly truth is that most of his voters saw Trump’s bigotry, misogyny and authoritarianism as features, not bugs. They didn’t overlook his appalling behaviors—those were what attracted them. They applauded his repeated attacks on “political correctness” and routinely told reporters that what they liked about him was that he “tells it like it is.”

The attitudes most predictive of support for Trump were racial resentment and misogyny—not economic distress.

Clinton won the popular vote, but because the Electoral College gives greater weight to votes from rural areas, she lost the Presidency. This is the 2d time in 16 years that the person who won the most votes was not elected.

The next few years are going to be very painful. Americans will lose many of the protections we have come to expect from the federal courts, probably for the foreseeable future. Economic policies will hurt the poor, especially women and children, and exacerbate divisions between the rich and the rest of us. A Trump Administration will abandon efforts to address climate change, and will roll back most of Obamacare. There will be no immigration reform, and God only knows what our foreign policy will look like. Worst of all, Trump’s normalization of bigotry will play out in a variety of ways, none good.

Sandy asked us to focus our comments on issues affecting women—but when you think about it, all of these issues will disproportionately affect women and children. And by far the worst for women is something we can’t reverse through legislation at some future time—a return to cultural attitudes that objectify and demean us.

So – what can we do, sitting here in overwhelmingly Red Indiana?

As individuals, beginning right now, we can support organizations that work to protect women’s rights, civil and reproductive liberties and public education, among others. A friend of mine and her husband, who stand to benefit from Trump’s proposed tax cuts, have decided to donate every dollar they save by reason of those cuts to organizations like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. We might start a local “pledge my tax cut” campaign.

Perhaps the most important thing we can do is focus on local efforts to ameliorate the effects of likely federal actions. Most of the innovation and action on climate change, for example, is happening in cities, and it is much easier to influence local policy than state or national legislation. Those of us worried about the environment can make sure our cities are at the forefront of urban environmental efforts. There are other policy areas where—depending upon relevant state law—cities can mitigate the effects of federal action or inaction. Since the election, for example, several cities have decided to become Sanctuary cities, protecting undocumented people.

We can and must work to create inclusive and supportive local civic cultures that work against misogyny, bigotry and intolerance. We are already seeing a substantial increase in racist, homophobic, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic incidents, and we need to create a civic environment that strongly discourages bigoted attitudes and behaviors. Cities have ready-made partners in those efforts, in arts organizations, civic and religious associations and the business community. I hereby volunteer to help mount a campaign focused on encouraging a welcoming, inclusive, respectful civic environment.

And if  the new Administration really does establish a Muslim registry, we all need to register as Muslims.

In the longer term, we have to reform America’s election system. The first order of business is to get rid of the Electoral College, which favors rural voters over urban ones and generally distorts the democratic process. The person who gets the most votes should win the election. We should work with groups like the League of Women Voters to get Indiana to sign on to the National Popular Vote Project, to oppose gerrymandering and to make voting easier, not harder.

We also have to defend our public schools and improve civic education. “We the People” or a similar curriculum should be required for High School graduation. Trump made all kinds of promises that he could not constitutionally carry out. Perhaps recognizing that wouldn’t have mattered to the kind of people willing to vote for him—but it might have.

Sandy asked each of us to identify issues of particular significance to women that we might win at the Statehouse. Given the composition of our legislature, we face an uphill battle, but here are some suggestions:

  • Work with local business and civil rights groups to expand Indiana’s civil rights law to include LGBTQ Hoosiers.
  • Work with Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and other organizations to prevent passage of added restrictions on abortion that more conservative courts would uphold. We’re already seeing that effort in Indiana.
  • Work with advocates for public education to scale back Indiana’s voucher program, the largest in the country, that benefits parochial schools at the expense of public ones.
  • Require effective civic education for graduation from H.S.

If there has ever been a time to be an activist, this is it.

 

Girls’ (And Supportive Boys’) Night Out

A couple of days ago, I got an email from Periods for Politicians (formerly Periods for Pence), announcing a pre-election rally focused on women’s issues in Indiana. The aim is to highlight all of the measures that caused harm to Hoosier women during the last four years–years that, not at all coincidentally, coincided with Mike Pence’s term as Governor.

“Governor Pence’s policies have done untold damage to Indiana, and this trend cannot continue if Indiana is to remain a healthy place for families and women,” said Sue Magina, Periods for Politicians (P4P) founder. “Pence was not alone in his decision making. Many state politicians supported his policies and their disastrous effects on all women living in Indiana, regardless of political affiliation. We need to revisit these policies and determine together how we can make progress moving forward.” Sue Magina is an anonymous woman resident of Indiana who goes by that fake name for reasons of personal safety.

The rally will be held at 5:30 p.m. on November 2d at the Indiana Statehouse.

If you attend–and if at all possible, I hope you will–here are some of the things you will hear about:

  • · HEA 1337, called the “most restrictive anti-abortion law in the country.”
  • · Continued attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides essential health care to thousands of low-income Indiana women.
  • · RFRA, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“protecting” discrimination ostensibly based upon religion.)
  • · The undermining and effective removal of Glena Ritz as School Superintendent, and the diversion of monies meant for public schools to the Governor’s pet voucher program favoring parochial, religious education.

National and local speakers will discuss these and other issues.

Speakers include: Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, named one of the nation’s “badass menstrual activists” by Bustle, and the “architect of the U.S. policy campaign to squash the tampon tax” by Newsweek; Dana Marlowe, founder of the national organization, Support the Girls; Cheryl Laux, local activist from Indiana Moral Mondays; a representative from Planned Parenthood; local singer/songwriter Jen Edds, and more.

The night will close with the first ever public appearance by Sue Magina, who created the brilliant “Periods for Pence” grassroots campaign.

In case you missed hearing about it (despite the fact that the campaign has been featured in the New York Times, NPR, CNN, Yahoo, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, and the Washington Post, among others), Periods for Pence was a response to Indiana’s restrictive and ridiculous abortion law, which the Governor said he “signed with a prayer.”

Among other things, that law required women to “cremate or inter” aborted or miscarried fetuses. Since fertilized eggs can be expelled during every menstrual period without the woman even knowing, the campaign urged women to call or tweet the Governor’s office to inform His Piety of the monthly “visit.”

My favorite tweet: @periodsforpence. Started my cycle today. When will you be by to check my used pads for HB1337 compliance so I know to be home?

The campaign brought national attention to–and censure of– our retrograde Governor and legislature. It became Periods for Politicians when he joined Trump’s ticket.

Women planning to attend the November 2d rally are encouraged to bring sealed menstrual hygiene products and bras for distribution to homeless women and girls throughout Indiana.

Men attendees are encouraged to bring socially responsible attitudes.

 

Waking the Sleeping Giant?

I just returned from a rally at the Indiana Statehouse. I joined several hundred people protesting HR6–the measure that would amend the Indiana Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

This marks the second time in my life I’ve attended a rally; the first was Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” a few months ago. I went through the tumultuous sixties without ever feeling the urge to demonstrate, although I certainly had opinions about the issues of the day.

I thought about my late-in-life expression of civic activism during several of the speeches, but especially during a rousing talk by State Senator Vi Simpson. She urged those in attendance to join with so many others who are being targeted by unfair legislation–working people, women, teachers and others. And she predicted that the demonstrations we have been seeing in Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio over the past month would continue, because “those in power have overreached, and they have wakened a sleeping giant.”

I think she’s right, and I’m a good example.

I grew up in a household that was anti-union; my father was a small businessman in Anderson, Indiana, and when unions called strikes, his business suffered.  My husband is an architect, and no fan of the building trades unions. Our daughter served three terms on the school board, and often was impatient with the Teachers’ union. None of us would be the people you’d expect to side with the unions in the attacks brought by the Governors of Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio. Probably, had those Governors engaged in a less all-out assault, we would have been conflicted on the issue. But when they chose to attack the right to bargain–when they tried to strip away the right of workers to band together to negotiate for wages and benefits–we all recoiled from the abuse of power. We were offended as citizens. We became pro-Union.

When the GOP in Congress attacked Planned Parenthood, I was outraged as a woman. When the GOP at Indiana’s Statehouse proposed to constitutionalize second-class citizenship for gays and lesbians, I was outraged as a mother. When the legislatures in Wisconsin and Indiana dissed the public schools and criticised the “elite” who teach in them,  I was outraged both as a former high school English teacher and a citizen.

The Republican Party as it exists today is nothing like the party I supported for 35 years. It is short-sighted and mean-spirited.

If the current GOP agenda has radicalized someone like me, Vi Simpson is right. It really has awakened a sleeping giant.