The rise of the Pink Hat Party
On Tuesday, David Brooks used his space in the New York Times to tell the 3.2 million people who marched this weekend how wrong we got it. How the 1 out of every 100 Americans rallying in the streets this weekend should have all been wearing red, white and blue instead of pink. How women using the word “pussy” coarsens the country’s political conversation, even as men have used it with impunity for hundreds of years.
The argument from Brooks and politicos like him is that “identity politics” are undermining progressive efforts to counter the power of President Trump’s economic message.
Here’s what David Brooks and the rest of the “mansplainersphere” fails to understand about our “identity politics”: It’s the economy, stupid.
When we talk about access to birth control, and to safe, legal, affordable abortion, we’re talking about the ability of women to make the most basic decisions about their lives and their futures. Women — who are half of breadwinners in this country — cannot pursue education, build careers, and participate in our economy if they cannot plan when and whether to have children. And they certainly can’t provide for their families if they don’t have access to paid family leave and affordable childcare and equal pay.
When we talk about “Black Lives Matter” we’re talking about the ability of Black people living in America to have dignity and access the exact same opportunities and freedoms that white people have enjoyed for the last several centuries (thanks significantly to Black labor), and to not be excluded from those opportunities by mass incarceration and violence from the state.
When we talk about protection for LGBTQ people, we’re talking about their ability to pursue careers without fear they’ll be fired because of their sexuality or marrying who they love. We’re talking about their ability to get medical care that respects their unique needs without shame or stigma.
When we talk about immigration reform, we’re talking about the ability of millions who contribute $11.6 billion to our economy to continue to provide for their families without the fear they will be torn apart. We are talking about ensuring that Dreamers can continue to stay and learn and work in the only country they have ever known.
One thing Brooks and I agree on is that the march must ultimately be about building political power. So don’t be surprised when you see “Pink Hat” candidates running for every office from school board to U.S. Senate and demanding that both parties take seriously the hopes and dreams of all people, and yes, that includes low-income white communities who are also being cut out and cut off from the American promise.
I had to laugh when Brooks wrote: “the marches offered the pink hats, an anti-Trump movement built, oddly, around Planned Parenthood…’
Oddly? Oddly, people are marching and resisting around the banner of an organization that has spent a century fighting for freedom and self-determination for all? That’s the odd thing about this situation?
Planned Parenthood was founded in 1916 on the idea that a woman’s body and pleasure is her own, to be shared with a partner or a baby or no one as she decides.
When Planned Parenthood began, women who simply could not afford to provide for another child, lined up down the block to get information about how to prevent another pregnancy — information that was completely illegal at the time.
Then, the law prevented them from deciding the most basic outcomes for their health and their lives — including whether and when to have children.
Today, a group of politicians is doing everything they can to drag us back toward those days — by repealing the advances for women’s health under the ACA, by threatening to block access to Planned Parenthood for Medicaid patients, by forcing women who have the least to pay the most for safe and legal abortion. Already President Trump has put in place a sweeping global gag rule that could cause thousands of deaths by severely restricting access to family planning.
In other words, they’re taking away economic opportunity by legislating our reproductive choices. Hell yes, we’re going to organize to stop them.
And Hamilton himself is with us.