The following editorial appeared in The Dallas Morning News on Tuesday, Jan. 24:
So what’s next?
This past weekend’s massive Women’s Marches across the country (and beyond) brought together supporters of diverse political agendas: Women’s reproductive rights. Climate change. Public education. Immigration. Voting and human rights. And that’s just for starters. Added together, it has been called the largest demonstration in American history.
In a nation that seems perpetually divided, getting more than a million people to rally in dozens of cities is no small feat. Even the tea party movement, which had its own Taxpayer March on Washington in 2009 and has been influential ever since, paled in comparison.
How the passion from the Women’s Marches is channeled will determine whether the marchers’ voices will have a lasting impact or become a historical footnote to the early days of the Trump administration. It’s one thing to take issue with the new president’s style and policies; focusing that passion into sustained political and social engagement is a quite another.
Count us among those who believe that peaceful constructive protests followed up with serious political and community involvement make for a better America. The million-plus people who gathered over the weekend showed how protests can be family events and a lesson in how democracy should work.
Already, event organizers have unveiled a “10 Actions for the first 100 Days” campaign to keep those who supported the march focused on activism, with a new project every 10 days. For the first action, they’ve asked participants to write postcards to lawmakers explaining issues that matter most to them, such as health care, LGBTQ rights and immigration. Downloadable versions of the postcards are available online, at womensmarch.com/100.
Want to move beyond writing lawmakers? (Psst … They take phone calls, too.) There are a host of other ways to influence the political process. Start by making sure you’re registered to vote — and helping register others, as well. If that seems like small potatoes, start preparing to run for office yourself.
And it doesn’t all have to be political. Volunteer, to share your passion with those closest to you. It could be as simple as volunteering at your neighborhood school, donating clothes to the nearest shelter, or assisting high school students in filling out financial aid forms. The bottom line is to be an engaged citizen, to show what can be accomplished when you get off the sidelines. And to keep it up.