On November 8, 2016, the American electorate ended Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and with it a vision of the future that I had pledged myself to. So much had been promised in the editorial pages and in poll after poll in the months before voting day that I had begun to trust in the inevitability of that liberal future even before it had arrived. The headlines the morning after the election announced Trump’s victory as a “Stunning Upset,” but it felt more like a betrayal to me. It was an engagement broken off steps from the altar. I watched Clinton’s concession speech and after it was over I sobbed in the arms of friends. When asked what to do next, I replied simply: “Wear black.” For weeks I tried to accept, but could never fully absorb, the new reality. I was Miss Havisham in her wedding dress, crushed under the weight of my great expectations, unable to move on. I felt like the jilted lover of a different America, one that was lost.
At the Women’s March on Washington this past weekend, I found that America again- jubilant, pink, and dancing in the streets.
One look at the marchers streaming out onto the sidewalks early Saturday morning and it was evident that liberal America’s period of mourning was over. Women passed out handmade knit hats with pussy cat ears and irreverent slogans like “Make My Pussy Safe Again” embroidered in neat print. Men, women, and children carried colorful protest signs crowded with art, glitter, and righteous messages to the new administration. They laughed loudly and complimented the best and the funniest signs and took selfies with the strangers carrying them. They posed for pictures with their friends and their families in front of the Capital with their signs and their sashes and their banners displayed proudly.
Together, we took to the streets and we took back the future that just months ago felt snuffed out. We chanted “You’re orange! You’re gross! And you lost the popular vote!” with an almost wicked pleasure, whooping loudly at the end. We shouted “Shame” over and over as we passed the new Trump International Hotel. Waves of women in bright pink hats sung out “We won’t go away! Welcome to your first day!” in unison as we passed the White House.
Observing the mood of the crowd, there was no indication that this was a gathering of the members of the losing side. The revelry bordered on carnivalesque, with marchers in tutus, flower crowns, and hats in the shape of the uterus, clapping, stomping, and erupting in yells that traveled through the crowd for miles in all directions. If Trump’s election was the breaking off of the engagement, then the Women’s March was liberal America’s collective decision to go ahead with the wedding reception anyway. After all, why waste all that good champagne and the party favors we already paid for?
When the numbers came in the next day, we found out that three times as many people came to the anti-inaugural festivities on Saturday in Washington D.C. alone than attended the swearing-in the day before. Over two and a half million people showed up and marched worldwide. It seems fitting that in these unprecedented times when nothing has gone as expected that the losing party threw the far bigger celebration. That in what should have been a moment of defeat, liberals descended on Washington and organized one of the largest peaceful protests in decades, boldly triumphant in our defiance.
Yes, we lost the election, but this past weekend we recommitted ourselves to the future we have spent our lives building. We promised to continue to put ourselves on the line, to fight for one another, and to love each other through this. Even though the electoral victory was snatched away, we stood up on Saturday and we read the vows we had prepared months before. We pledged that we will care for each other in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. The hard work of creating a more perfect union lies ahead of us. This past weekend, we remembered why we are so, so worth it.