The Women’s March Was the Most Important Political Event of 2017

We’ve got a few days left, so it’s not a lock, but unless a Muellerian thunderbolt suddenly strikes the Oval Office, it looks like the clear winner for the most important political event of the year was the Women’s March.

The inauguration of Trump was mandated by the Constitution. His behavior since then appears to be mandated by his constitution. Neither was a surprise.

The success of the Women’s March was different, in two ways.

First, no one could have predicted how big it would be. There’s no official count, but the estimate is that roughly 4 million people took to the streets. For a sense of scale, that’s roughly twice as many people as currently serve in the United States military.

And the largest protest in American history didn’t just happen in D.C. and L.A. Over 400 marches took place across the country, with another 200 occurring worldwide on all seven continents — yes, even Antarctica.

Second — and more important— is the explosive surge of activism the march inspired.

One of the central messages of the Women’s March was, “After we march, we organize.” No one knew whether the second part would happen. After all, organizing is harder than marching.

It clearly has. Since the Women’s March, women have used social media to organize countless grassroots groups. These groups typically have a loose structure but a clear goal: flip seats.

And to flip those seats, we’re seeing more women run for office than at any time in history, with many of them pointing to the Women’s March as the event that put them on the path to becoming a candidate.

As a local elected official, after the election I started getting invited to a lot of new grassroots groups. I remember going to three or four and thinking it was interesting that they all seemed to be organized and largely attended by women.

Now I’ve been to over a dozen. Folks, every single one is organized by women. 80% of the attendees are women. Women are running the whole show.

Refreshingly, at these meetings I don’t hear much debate about what it means to be a “true” progressive or whether Bernie would have won. They don’t spend a lot of time obsessing over bylaws or holding internal elections.

You know what they’re talking about? How to raise money. How to build a volunteer army. How to bounce back after a tough day of canvassing or phone banking.

In other words, they’re talking about what it actually takes to create change, and then they’re really doing it.

2017 was brutal. But while some of us froze in despondence and disbelief, millions of women picked this country up, put it on their backs, and marched us forward. If we’re talking politics, nothing more important happened this year.

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