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After mass turnout, can protests turn into political impact?

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    A crowd fills Independence Avenue during the Women’s March on Washington, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017 in Washington.

DENVER >> Deb Szeman, a self-described “homebody,” had never participated in a demonstration before hopping on an overnight bus from her home in Charlotte, North Carolina, to attend the women’s march on Washington.

She returned on another bus that pulled in at 4 a.m. Sunday, full of people buzzing about what might come next and quipping that they would see each other at the next march.

“I wouldn’t have spent 18 hours in Washington, D.C., and taken the bus for seven hours both ways if I didn’t believe there was going to be a part two, and three and four and five,” said Szeman, 25, who works at a nonprofit and joined the National Organization for Women after Trump won the White House.

“I feel like there’s been an awakening,” she said.

More than a million people turned out Saturday to nationwide demonstrations opposing President Donald Trump’s agenda, a forceful showing that raised liberals’ hopes after the election denied them control of all branches of federal government. Now, the question is whether that energy can be sustained and turned into political impact.

From marches against the Iraq War in 2003 to Occupy Wall Street, several big demonstrations have not directly translated into real-world results. In Wisconsin, for example, tens of thousands stormed the state Capitol in 2011 to protest Gov. Scott Walker’s moves to weaken unions. Walker has since been re-elected.

Trump also won the state in November as Republicans increased their hold on the statehouse, part of the GOP’s domination of state-level elections in recent years.

Organizers of Saturday’s marches are promising 10 additional actions to take during the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency. So far, the first and only is for supporters to write to their senators or representatives.

Groups scrambled so fast to arrange the massive demonstrations in only a few weeks that they have had limited time to determine how to channel the energy into additional action. But, they promise, it’s coming.

“The left has really woken up and said, ‘My gosh, we’ve been fighting the symbolic fight, but we haven’t been fighting the institutional fight,’” said Yong Jung-Cho of the activist group All of Us, which organized protests at the inauguration as well as the women’s march.

There’s still value in symbolism. Saturday’s immense crowds ruffled the new president as his press secretary falsely contended that Trump had broken a record on inauguration attendance. Jamie Henn of the climate action group 350.org said that reaction is a hint on how to build the movement.

“Size matters to this guy,” Henn said. “It’s like dealing with a schoolyard bully and some of us need to go back to middle school and revisit what that’s like” as they think up new tactics.

Saudi Garcia, a 24-year-old anthropology student at New York University, is a veteran of Black Lives Matter protests in New York. She rode to Washington with longtime, largely minority activists to block checkpoints to the inauguration.

She was heartened to find herself in a very different crowd Saturday, which she described as largely white women, many of whom brought young children to the women’s march. Garcia hopes those women stay involved in fighting Trump.

“We need to be like the tea party was in 2009,” Garcia said. “Those people were relentless — showing up at town council meetings, everywhere.”

Stan A. Veuger of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, co-authored a study of how the nationwide demonstrations that launched the tea party movement led to increased conservative political clout.

Higher attendance at individual demonstrations correlated with more conservative voting by congressional members and a greater share of Republican votes in the 2010 election, when the GOP won back the House, he said.

But, Veuger cautioned, it wasn’t automatic. The tea party activists also went home and volunteered in local organizations that helped change the electoral results.

“Political protests can have an effect,” he said. “But there’s nothing guaranteed.”

One positive sign for the left, he added, was that the women’s marches seemed to draw an older crowd not deeply rooted in demonstrating — people who are more likely to volunteer, donate and vote.

Beth Andre is one of them. Before the election, the 29-year-old who works in crisis services at a college had bought a ticket from her home in Austin, Texas, to Washington to watch what she thought would be Hillary Clinton’s inauguration.

After Trump won, she canceled the trip. She was heartbroken again when she realized that meant she could not attend the women’s march. But a friend invited her to a meeting to plan a women’s march in Austin instead.

Andre has never been involved in a protest movement before. Still excited after Saturday’s demonstration, she’s planning to attend lobbying workshops by her local Democratic Party and is thinking of running for office.

“We want to be able to harness that energy and anger that we have right now and turn it into something good,” she said.

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    • Funny how the (now irrelevant) MSM entirely ignores the reality that the event organizers of these ‘marches’ were planning on this whole idea celebrating Hillary Clinton’s pre-destined “winning” of the election. Until she lost. So the same organizers then turned it into a “Hate Trump ” protest. It’s also ironic the media never spotlights any women other than women with a liberal point of view. Were any conservative women marching?? Didn’t see or hear of any. Funny how these people who hate Trump got more motivated to get up and walk through town, than Michelle Obama’s fitness mantra did in 8 years.

      • It must be interesting to live in a parallel universe governed by conspiracy theories. Based on interviews, apparently a lot of Trump voters now have buyers remorse and decided to join the march.

        • “Buyers remorse”, dream on Blue. The “political impact” will be that more people will leave the Democrap party. What losers. 30 Red states to 20 Blue states. 34 Republican Governors, 17 Democraps. Feeling blue yet Blue?Trump wins 2nd. term. Then to be followed by VP Pence. Paul Ryan after that, Jason Chafettes after that. Endless years of leftwing crybabies sucking wind. Loving it.

        • Keep believing this meathead. Fact is the Donald will be lucky to last 2 years and it might even be republicans themselves who bounce him. Or he may just end up being like sweet Sara and just resign. Then there is the intelligence community which has no sense of humor.

  • They have a right to express their concerns, but they had these concerns a little over a month ago, and they lost. Not much has changed since then, so I doubt this made any difference, however, they did make the news especially to the MSM, and for that the Left must feel very satisfied.

    • So you don’t think that House and Senate members noticed one million women marching? There’s another election in two years for the entire House and 1/3 of the Senate. The way to defeat Trump is to erode his support in Congress.

      Members of Congress will not follow Trump if they think it will cost their jobs.

      • President Trump off to a great start. You non believers better get to work. What’s the ACLFU doing? Haven’t heard a word about them today. Come on klasless get on the ball.

    • You’re right. Billionaire George Soros funds 50 of the sponsoring organizations of the DC march. He’s a big Hillary Clinton backer and a leftist extremist.

      • Dear Hillary,

        A serious situation has arisen in Albania which needs urgent attention at senior levels of the US government. You may

        •know that an opposition demonstration in Tirana on Friday resulted in the deaths of three people and the destruction of

        UNCLASSIFIED U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2014-20439 Doc No. C05778285 Date: 09/30/2015

        property. There are serious concerns about further unrest connected to a counter-demonstration to be organized by the

        governing party on Wednesday and a follow-up event by the opposition two days later to memorialize the victims. The
        prospect of tens of thousands of people entering the streets in an already inflamed political environment bodes ill for
        the return of public order and the country’s fragile democratic process.

        I believe two things need to be done urgently:

        1.Bring the full weight of the international community to bear on Prime Minister Berisha and opposition leader Edi
        Rama to forestall further public demonstrations and to tone down public pronouncements.

        2.Appoint a senior European official as a mediator.

        While I am concerned about the rhetoric being used by both sides, I am particularly worried about the actions of the
        Prime Minister. There is videotape of National Guard members firing on demonstrators from the roof of the Prime
        Ministry. The Prosecutor (appointed by the Democratic Party) has issued arrest warrants for the individuals in question.

        The Prime Minister had previously accused the opposition of intentionally murdering these activists as a provocation.
        After the tape came out deputies from his party accused the Prosecutor of planning a coup d’etat in collaboration with
        the opposition, a charge Mr. Berisha repeated today. No arrests have been made as of this writing.

        The demonstration resulted from opposition protests over the conduct of parliamentary elections in 2009. The political
        environment has deteriorated ever since and is now approaching levels of 1997, when similar issues caused the country

        to slide into anarchy and violence. There are signs that Edi Rama’s control of his own people is slipping, which may lead
        to further violence.

        The US and the EU must work in complete harmony over this, but given Albania’s European aspirations the EU must take
        the lead. That is why I suggest appointing a mediator such as Carl Bildt. Martti Ahtisaari or Miroslav Lajcak, all of whom
        have strong connections to the Balkans.

        My foundation in Tirana is monitoring the situation closely and can provide independent analysis of the crisis.

        Thank you,

        George Soros

    • such a crock. I know many, many people who participated here, in Seattle, in DC, Austin and other cities and the showed up spontaneously because they know Trump threatens women and is a confessed abuser of women. There was no big money support, like there was with the Tea Party, with Dick Armey channeling Koch brothers money. The Women’s March origins are well documented as a grassroots movement formed on Facebook.

  • Many of the marchers are ignorant parasites and leeches that want all kinds of freebies from the Government, yet are too lazy to even vote. This story completely ignores another aspect of this story–red state Republicans will be galvanized by the leftist extremists featured in these rallies and really amp up their recruiting. Expect red states to get deeper red and blue states to remain blue.

    The extremists on the podium at the DC march, such as self-avowed Communist Angela Davis to Madonna who dropped four F-bombs and talked about blowing up the White House in a 5 minute speech are hardly mainstream. Great recruiting opportunity for Republicans.

  • To all you psychotic losers who spend all their time whining remember this.
    If you do not support the POTUS he will not be successful. You must accept the blame.
    As General Patton said, “Lead, follow or get out of the way”.

    • Define successful? Is it the further squeezing of the middle class so that the rich can get richer? This is not whining, it is just pointing out what republicans do when they get into power. Is successful transforming America into Orwell’s Oceania where the government is all powerful and citizens just need to keep silent and obey? Please explain.

        • Sorry “Ronin006” but I think “Boots” and the rest of us have a pretty good idea about what he’ll do.

        • intelligent people can see who he’s already nominated for cabinet positions, the majority are unqualified and antithetical to the departments they would head. He’s already signed executive orders that show his hand, so Boots is entirely within reason to say what he did.

        • Ronin006 – Intelligent people were listening to him during the campaign. Trump had a long campaign that explained what he will do, and he’s chosen a cabinet with some impossibly unqualified people to enact his goals. No need to wait.

      • Boots, you should contact your Representative or Senator. Their job is to represent their constituents. That’s how democracy works. All these protesters did was make a lot of noise.
        As General Patton said “Lead, follow, or get out of the way. Get out of the way.

        • I wasn’t able to make the march as I wasn’t feeling well but I think both my representative and senator were there. Things get done with protests. We recently celebrated Martin Luther King. Do you think he would have been recognized with a holiday if he didn’t lead protests. Noise is good at times.

    • Support is earned, not given. You talk like an @$$ all the time so YOU drive away the support. YOU must accept the blame LessPark. Go hug All-Lies and make up.

        • You trying too hard to be funny…Relax and let it happen naturally…Like how you take that D!ld0 up your @ss…#MAGA

        • A_Reader I have no problem giving Trump a chance. LessPark on the other hand deserves no breaks, he has preached his my way or the highway attitude all this time and only now he understands that Trump needs support? Too little too late, except for his chances with All-Lies.

  • Keep going girls. You’re showing the world how intolerant you are of opposing viewpoints. It’s going to backfire on you mainly because the mainstream media which showcases all your agitation has zero credibility, hence you have zero credibility. What you do have to look forward to is 8 years of Trump, conservative supreme court nominees, securing the borders, reducing the size of government and lot’s of other right wing goodies.

    • IRT CEI: I believe you’re on to something. Watching hooded thugs burn cars and break the windows in downtown DC is likely to backfire. I doubt the public will be sympathetic to their cause (whatever it may be; I’m not sure).

  • national organization of women there is a bunch of hypocrites. old hags with clipped hair and mustaches will call them nags [national association of gals] old biddy’s.

  • is that all more than a million protesters across the country, and press thinks that’s good its not, more than twenty million women backed trump and only that little over a million backed Hillary, so that demonstration by a small number of women is truly laughable, media making a big deal over nothing.

  • Media and some folks are missing the point of how Trump won: a large slice of our population is being left out and they got tired of it. Wouldn’t it be nice to have demonstrations that ask that we all matter; not only blacks, women, environmentalists, etc. But also the Polynesians, Asians, farmers, industrial and construction workers, financial institution workers, etc. Everyone. Alas, it’s just a dream.

    • Trump didn’t win the majority of the popular vote. He has no mandate and the majority that voted for HRC don’t consider him a legitimate president. He’ll be impeached as soon as he becomes a big enough embarrassment for the the Republicans.

    • Apparently, these protesters would be happier to see psycho Hillary throwing White House objects at the First Predator while Chelsea grovels for foundation money from foreign governments. Hillary was a failed senator, failed SOS, and a failed candidate for POTUS. But, they can protest all they want.

  • I didn’t vote for Trump, but what I have read and see how these people try to disregard the processed how Trump won speaks volumes! I’m looking forward toward Trump’s Presidency! He will let many people eat crow because he will stand against any other leader of the world that would otherwise would trample over American via “back stabbing diplomacy”.

  • As Nate Silver pointed out, these protests took place mostly in overwhelmingly Democrat cities and people who flew in to participate came from blue states as well. Good optic, but nothing will change. Red states will get deeper red and blue states deeper blue.

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