Why they marched

Edward Stanley writes to explain to President Trump why millions of women marched.

President Trump, I am addressing this explanation to you. I seek to explain something that you don’t get, that your supporters don’t get, and that many onlookers don’t get – why millions of women marched in protest of your presidency almost as soon as it began. Since I couldn’t capture every reason, I’ll stick to one. I have just one message for you, and you know better than anyone how powerful one simple message can be. There is noone alive today who needs to understand this message more than you do.

Mr. President, let me be blunt: you have no mandate. The American people elected Hillary Clinton. The Electoral College, failing at their intended purpose as completely and spectacularly as a New Orleans levee, selected you. The margin by which Clinton defeated you at the ballot box was greater than those of the victorious Kennedy, Nixon, or Carter. You occupy your office legally, thanks to the idiosyncrasies of the electoral system, but the American people, by and large, do not support you.

When you have no mandate and when the majority of the public and the electorate opposes your rule, it is especially important to be a president for everyone. You have made it clear in your first few days of office, as you made it clear on the campaign trail, that you are no such thing. You are the president not of reasonable people, but of abortion clinic bombers and tax-dodging one-percenters. Your supporters are not decent, hard-working Americans; they are bigots consumed by the idea that the Other has denied them their rightful place in society. Yours is a country built on immigration and one of the most consistently progressive and liberal nations of the last two centuries. When compared to your great nation’s history, Mr. President, it becomes clear that you and your supporters are as all-American as Alger Hiss or Benedict Arnold.

Half of the citizens you represent are women, but you don’t seem to believe that women are people. To you, they are playthings placed around you for your pleasure. We know how you treat them – you told us on Billy Bush’s hot mic. Their value is more-or-less limited to their sexual appeal. Just ask the ex-wives you cheated on, abused, and then kicked to the curb once you’d found a younger replacement. Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy wronged their wives, but they never treated them as badly as you’ve treated yours, no matter what they did or what you claim. Whatever hurt Bill visited on Hillary when the truth of his dalliances became known, I’m sure it was less than the hurt you visited on Ivana when you beat her, tore her hair out at the scalp, and raped her.

Then one of the first things you did as President was to reinstate the Mexico City policy, proving you are determined not only to personally assault their dignity and their bodies, but to use the power of the state to assault their rights as well. You have ensured that even those women lucky enough to have never met you will feel the effects of your misogyny. They will lose access to reproductive health services when you close the clinics and practices they go to for pap smears, STD tests, and breast exams. Some of them will get sick as a result of what you have done. Some of them will die.

These women marched because there is a man in the White House who opposes their interests and who has no respect for them. They sought to remind you that they are also American citizens and that, although you are shirking it, you have a duty and a responsibility to protect them and their rights too.

The women in other countries marched with them in solidarity because, as Martin Luther King once observed, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. And when you profess your admiration for Dr. King, I’d ask you not to piss on his grave and tell me it’s raining. It is important that this be an international movement, because right now, you are irresponsibly passing the liquor of nationalism around and doing your best to get the American people fall-down drunk on it. They may wake up fuzzy-headed wondering who the fuck they ethnically cleansed last night. That’s what happens when you fan these flames. Ask the Jews. The Armenians. The Tutsi. The Bosniaks. The Native Americans. Those who say it couldn’t happen here forget that it already did.

In 1963, hundreds of thousands of Americans also marched on Washington. They embarrassed the regime, and in the end, President Johnson had to acknowledge that he had a responsibility to them. You must do the same. Now as then, your people, the people you are charged with representing and protecting, are showing you an injustice – one that it is in your power to undo.

Consider this march a reminder. You may not understand the pussy-hatted crowds who descended on the Capitol, and you may not like them, but you have to understand that you are their president. You cannot govern the country for yourself, your children, your friends and donors, and your political base, small in numbers and even smaller in mind. Govern it for everyone.