At the Women’s March on Washington, one of the more striking moments came early on, during a speech from actress America Ferrera. She asked marchers, many of whom protested specifically against President Trump, to “refuse” his divisive rhetoric and the policy proposals that could disproportionately affect women, LGBTQ groups, and communities of color:
“The president is not America. His Cabinet is not America. Congress is not America. We are America, and we are here to stay. ... This is only day one in our united movement.”
It was a call to action that forced listeners to consider what would happen after the march—a natural concern for pumped-up protesters bent on opposing Donald Trump, and one that hung over the event. The Women’s March was unprecedented, with more than 3 million participants estimated worldwide. Yet the marchers face two major questions moving forward: Can Saturday’s energy be sustained and channeled into political power? And could divisions among marchers weaken their efforts to fight against the new administration?
The principle issue among marchers is whether people will organize within their local communities after the excitement dies down. While Trump’s victory triggered the event, liberal women’s groups have long fought against conservative policies they believe limit women’s reproductive and economic freedoms, among others. But they were unable to prevent the GOP from taking control of Washington and most state legislatures, so what makes the Women’s March different? The activists I spoke with seemed confident that the reality of Trump’s presidency will move more people to get involved.