More than a million men and women across the globe united yesterday in a march advocating for the protection of rights of women and minorities following the inauguration of Donald Trump.
The march let Washington know loud and clear they were being watched and they cannot restrict women, cannot erase the last several decades of progress, not without a fight.
The demands have been heard, now it is imperative we back them up.
Yes, standing with over a million of your fellow brothers and sisters is easy. Getting swept up in a movement offers a high, makes you feel like you’re part of something. We need to make sure that high, that momentum, does not waver.
We must monitor our politicians at the local, state and national level. Learn your representatives’ names and phone numbers. Find out what issues are on the agenda and make sure your congressmen know what you, their constituents, want them to do.
Congress will decide if the Affordable Care Act is fixed or dismantled, if Planned Parenthood continues to receive funding or if they allow the utilization of loopholes to shut down clinics nationwide, if equal pay should be a societal norm or if we continue to allow the wage gap to persist and if birth control is covered by insurance or if women are forced to pay out of pocket for the necessary protection.
Join the Tampa chapter of the National Organization of Women, who meet the first Thursday of every month at Unitarian Universalist Church. Volunteer with causes you’re passionate about, whether that is ending domestic violence, fighting for minorities’ rights or for a charity for displaced LGBT youth.
Do some self-evaluation. According to a GenForward poll, only 28 percent of young adults believe our two major political parties do a good job representing the American people.
If you’re one of those who are dissatisfied, fight for better representation. Work your way up in a local chapter of a political party, volunteer for a local politician, or for a campaign you believe in. Or, if you truly believe both parties are crooked and beyond repair, join one that better fits your vision of America, whether that be the Green Party, the Libertarians, the Tea Party or even a group comprised of no party affiliation members.
Most importantly, we have to keep our eyes open. When we see our fellow sisters being oppressed because of their race, religion or sexuality we need to intervene. The days of complacency are over. There is power in numbers and together we are a majority.
“Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election,” tweeted Trump. “Why didn’t these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly.”
What he fails to realize is these women, these men, these defiant and scared members of society, outnumber those who cast their vote in his favor. Clinton received 65,844,954 votes, with 62,979,879 casting their ballot for Trump. She received approximately 2.9 million more votes.
That’s not to say his win was illegitimate. The way our electoral college is set up did give him the victory. But he would be wise to not assume he always has the majority of the nation in his pocket.
Millions of Americans are now watching his and our Congress’ every move. If they step a toe out of line, they need to be ready to face the opposition of the very people they claim to represent.
After all, our nation was founded on the idea that the people choose the government, the people choose the policies and the people’s rights always come first. Well we, the people, will be waiting. And our government can rest assured that we will carry this movement through the next four years if necessary to protect the rights we have worked so hard to obtain.
Breanne Williams is a senior majoring in mass communications.