Millions of people marched throughout the United States and abroad last Saturday to protest Donald Trump’s first day in office and to affirm women’s rights and human rights. The demonstrations were inspiring—full of energy, witty signs, slogans and chants—and brought into the streets a diverse multitude, many of whom were not normally politically active. But a demonstration is not a movement. The key question for many is how does all this energy, outrage and action get channeled into a movement not simply against the Trump Presidency, not only to defend our rights, but for basic societal change.
The mobilization of large—in this case extraordinarily large—numbers of people for political action is atypical and episodic throughout American history, normally reserved for such social crises as depressions, unjust wars or moral crusades. The current upsurge in political activism among ordinary people stems from the perceived danger that Trump presents: to democracy, decency, progress, rights, women, immigrants, minorities and generally civilized values. The very danger causing the consternation, outrage and grief which moved people to action presents an enormous opportunity to change the country’s political dynamic. But that takes translating the protest against Trump and those who empower him into a positive vision of social change. Here are a few ideas of how we might do that.