He was tall with a handsome, craggy face and piercing blue eyes, reminiscent of a 60s matinée idol. He stood at the back of the growing throng, scanning the crowd. When I approached, he tipped a ball cap emblazoned with the distinctive USMC logo.
“Why are you here today, sir,” I asked.
“Because I am an American,” he responded without hesitation. “This is my country. I served in Korea. I voted for Mr. Trump, but I am concerned.”
The decorated veteran gestured to the crowd, the numbers in front of the Fort Worth Omni Hotel increasing as cars pulled into the circle drive, depositing tux-clad and cocktail dress-attired guests. Across the street, the crowd was increasing; people edging their way into the mix, the group growing as more stood, shoulder to shoulder, many holding handmade signs and posters. Many posters included zip codes. Written in thick, black Sharpie, several signs proclaimed: “I am NOT a paid protester.”
The Marine gestured to the crowd.
“This is our country. These are my countrymen,” he said. “We are all different. But we are all Americans.”
I thanked the Marine for his time and sidled through the crowd, winding my way through the enthused chanting and the dancing posters.
I wanted to see for myself who “those people” really are. I had driven downtown to see, firsthand, what I have spent weeks reading about — the protests and protesters; constituents demanding town hall meetings with elected representatives; people concerned about health care, education, the environment, liberties, free press, religious and immigration rights.
I wanted to see the faces. I wanted to see just who was making up the purported “fringe contingent” — these consumers, gobbling up “fake news” while the White House is spewing “Truth” at an unprecedented press conference and a campaign-like rally. I wanted to see the poster makers and pink cappers. I wanted to see the so-called Snowflakes. I wanted to determine for myself if this Movement that I have never before witnessed the likes of in my five-plus decades is simply a small spark that will soon be stamped out or a sizzling, soon-to-be-blazing wildfire sweeping across this wonderful nation of ours.
I ambled through this crowd in my hometown yesterday, joining hundreds who gathered outside the Omni where a tony Republican fundraiser brought the well-heeled and well-connected; the big names and big donors. It also brought out the sign carriers, the presumed rabble rousers, the protesters, The Resistance.
I met a group of ladies, wearing TCU purple — retired school teachers who said they were marching for education and their concern for Betsy Devos’ appointment and what will become of education in this era of privatization. They want a town hall meeting with Kay Granger.
I talked to a college student, sporting a hot pink “She Persisted” T-shirt.
I chatted with teenagers who stopped to participate on their way to a friend’s Quinceañera at a neighboring hotel. The trio of girls, wearing matching silver dresses, was escorted by an earnest young man in tux.
“We came because we have to,” he explained. “Our parents were immigrants. We are Americans. We are worried.”
Many are worried. The posters tell their stories. They want to know what is happening behind the scenes in a government that seems to have too many secrets, casts too much blame. What will happen with immigration, health care, social security, education, civil rights, the press? They want to know what their local representatives are doing as executive orders are flung out like fast-food. They want to know about Russian business ties. And yes, Mr. President, they do want to see those tax returns.
I looked around at these protesters — peaceful protesters who kept sidewalks, doorways, roadways clear; thanked police officers who protect and serve and make sure Americans are allowed their right to assemble, to peacefully protest.
I talked to a well-spoken, highly educated financial planner — a downtowner who had come to see what was happening in her “own back yard.” Her 20-something sons are both attorneys, one of whom lives in Washington, D.C. and has a close perspective on the history-making playing out in tweets, headlines, and on social media.
“I almost feel sorry for Mr. Trump,” the downtowner admitted. “He was used to getting his way as the head of his company, issuing orders and making sure his wishes and demands were carried out. I’m not sure this is what he bargained for.”
Whether our President bargained for the protests, the posters, the pink hats and all of this pontificating, we really don’t know. I do know that what I saw in Fort Worth yesterday was in no way a “fringe group” flinging insults, inciting violence, or disrespecting anyone.
The group I saw — these Resistors who are being disparaged by many, including our President — are my neighbors. They are the same people I see in the produce aisle at the neighborhood grocery store; the same people cheering in the stands at the high school football game; the same sharing a hymnal in church pews on Sunday morning.
The people I saw at the Omni were families with children in strollers; seniors sporting walking canes; Millennials tugging on dog leashes. The people I saw are a cross-section of our country. They are young, old, black, white, Latino. They are Republicans and Democrats, veterans and teachers, preachers and retirees. They are housewives and booster moms, soccer coaches and students. The protesters are united by a common concern for our country, its future and well-being.
The Resistors are leaving their cul-de-sacs, apartments and dorm rooms and taking to the streets, demanding town hall meetings, writing letters and making phone calls in record numbers to remind elected officials that we, The American People, are no longer asleep at the wheel.
Mr. Trump, you have roused Americans from our apathy; you have awakened many of us from our political slumber — and despite differences, many are marching, arm and arm, in cities across our country. To borrow the words of our POTUS, The American People are determined to Make America Great Again, one poster, one call, one letter, one voter registration, one cast ballot at a time.
I went downtown to see the protesters yesterday. I saw The Resistance. The Resistors are Americans.
The Resistors are Us.
#Resist #Neverthelessshepersisted #Rally #Voting #Democracy