I joined my wife on the Women’s March and wanted to tell the story from a man’s point of view. I learned that gender didn’t matter at all.
I am an immigrant. So is my wife. We came to America legally, as political refugees, when our country of birth, Romania, was communist. That is why we aligned with the Republican party’s mantra of personal freedom and limited government. Then, at the 1992 Convention, Pat Buchanan gave a speech opposing every freedom we cherish. We felt the government had entered our bedroom. His speech could have been given by a communist politician in Romania. Soon, my wife and I became registered democrats.
We were disappointed to see our party lose this election, but that is not why we marched. I have never been to a march in my life. “Be safe,” some of our friends told us when they heard we were going. “Be sure to stay in middle of the crowd.” The day before, at the inauguration, protesters had broken windows and many of them got arrested.
What surprised me about the march, was how peaceful and civilized it was. Nobody pushed. It was very crowded, but people were mindful of each other, polite. I stood in line at a port-a-potty for 55 minutes, but it was an orderly line. A lot of the signs I saw were humorous, luminous, colorful, witty, and to the point. Very few were vulgar, in my opinion. We couldn’t move easily, and from where we stood I heard only parts of the rally. I later found out that some speakers were more aggressive than I would have liked them to be, but since I didn’t hear them, that didn’t bother me. I was surrounded by people from all corners of the country, of all races and ages, the old and the frail, and some very young children. There were quite a few men (some of their signs read “I am man enough to march”). When people in wheelchairs passed us (and I heard that 45 thousand disabled people had registered), the crowds made way and everybody helped. The marchers talked to each other like friends do at a party, when they have things in common that matter to them.
After the march, we jumped on Facebook. We learned from the news that the attendance was at least twice as large as expected, that there were marches in many other cities and countries around the world. And we posted our pictures, and comments, and felt glad that we had been there.
A day later, a friend of mine who is republican wrote a message to me on Facebook. “The election is over. Can we agree to disagree and move on?”
Well, here is what I say to my friend: You consider Reagan a model republican president, a true hero, and compare every presidential candidate to him. Yet I do not remember the Mexican dreamers fearing deportation in Reagan’s time. Muslims were not being banned from America, singled out, or threatened with being recorded into a registry. The disabled were not being mocked. People protested during Reagan’s term (and later, during every subsequent administration), but there has never been an event when women wore pink hats symbolizing their genitalia, and men held signs stating that “Real men don’t grope women.” I don’t remember signs asking the Russians to get out of our politics, or us fearing that we have “no planet B”. And facts, most of the times, were facts. Reagan was elegant. He was a gifted speaker. Whether we agreed with him politically or not, we all know that Reagan’s were classy times. Yeah, my republican friend, we don’t see eye to eye on many issues. In a democracy, it is normal and healthy that we don’t, but please know that this march was not about our disagreements.
I fear for our democracy. Words matter. Behavior matters. Posture matters. I marched because I suddenly feel ashamed.
What do you think? How do you feel?Comment, like or recommend. Thank you.