The Women’s March in Washington D.C and associated Sister Marches in other cities were the largest protests of President Donald Trump’s inauguration. If the marches are to be anything more than a onetime spectacle it will require more than rallying committed constituency groups that are disappointed and disgruntled with the election result.
The March organizers partnered with nearly a thousand left leaning constituency groups (e.g. NARAL, Planned Parenthood, NRDC, Moveon.org, Transgender Law Center, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, and Free the Nipple) in an organized effort to disparage and protest Donald Trump’s inauguration.
The “Unity Principles” of the March were the staples of the left’s coalition focusing on abortion rights, LGBTQIA rights, open borders, race and organized labor.
The protests were concentrated in metropolitan areas of Blue dominance where Hillary Clinton won by extreme margins (e.g. Boston 85%, Washington D.C. 90%, NYC 79%, San Francisco 85%, Chicago 84%, Austin, TX 66%). One should not be surprised that large crowds could be mustered to protest the election result in these heavily Democratic strongholds.
The speakers at protests were the standard fare of Democratic politicians seeking to ingratiate themselves to the protesters and a range of activists, actors and musicians espousing sometimes unintelligible inflammatory rants (Ashley Judd) to thoughts of blowing up the White House (Madonna).
The circumstantial evidence that indicates the event was an organized partisan political action rather than a spontaneous outcry of a burgeoning women’s movement was buttressed by the direct and deliberate exclusion of groups that do not support every one of the organizer’s constituency coalition. For example, a pro-life feminist group, New Wave Feminist, was banned from participating in the March because it did not endorse the pro-abortion principle of the organizers.
The participants in the marches represented the membership and supporters of the nearly one thousand left wing coalition partners that rallied their members to attend these events - but not exclusively.
For event organizers the long term opportunity lies in capturing attendees that are not members or supporters of their constituency coalition – and converting them into activist supporters with the potential to create a movement. They want to be the Tea Party (a movement) not Occupy (a protest).
Similarly, these same fence sitting participants deserve attention and engagement from the Trump Administration to prevent them from being co-opted by the left.
The challenge for the organizers and their partners is that access to the tent requires signing on to all of their principles. Their strategy is based on getting each of the many constituencies they bring to the table to support one another for a perceived greater impact. This strategy of EXCLUSIVE INCLUSION does not work and it is one of the primary reasons Donald Trump was elected.
People who attended the March from outside of the constituency coalition have a motivating grievance but they likely do not fully understand the agenda being advanced or its principles. Their concern may only marginally connect with the full agenda of the left and the principles of the organizers. Converting them to full on members and supporters as part of the vanguard of a movement is a major challenge. Preventing their conversion may be easier for the Trump Administration.
Trump wanted to invite some marchers into the White House for a discussion. His heart was in the right place, but his staff felt it would be counterproductive during the protests. With the dust settled he should now act on his impulse and reach out – not to those who will hate him no matter what he does – but specifically to fence sitters who participated at the request of a friend or out of anger over some specific issue.
Ivanka Trump, having expressed repeatedly her interest in advancing issues of concern to many women should participate in any outreach. She may be the best conduit to reach out to the women Trump has alienated with his rhetoric to assuage them.
Outreach, polling, and analysis to address the concerns of objective fence sitting women, underpinned by successful actions on economic growth and jobs can go a long way. Ignoring this group could provide the foundation for an opposition movement.