Laurie Veninger, November 2018
There is only one thing I can thank Donald Trump for. Without him, I would not have met hundreds of amazing people from across Cape Cod, from across MA, and indeed, from all across the country. All of them with a single-minded, laser focus on one thing: stopping this nightmare. The nightmare didn’t begin in 2016 and it will not end in 2018 or 2020. We aren’t naïve; we know this. The forces that put Trump in office have been at work for decades and will linger in the animosity he has fostered and unleashed in our country. We know this and yet we will not back down. This is the resistance.
Despite Trump’s derisive depiction of the resistance, I have not found any delicate snowflakes or crybabies (by the way, Trump often accuses others of things of which he is guilty). We are not “crazy,” “weak” or “dumb,” as he likes to describe people – mostly women – who oppose him. Oddly, he recently began characterizing us as an angry mob. Angry, yes, but we aren’t lighting the tiki torches and getting out the pitchforks – or sending pipe bombs.
For almost two years, I have marched, rallied, trained and organized and I have witnessed the same steely resolve, and yes, sometimes tears and anger, in the eyes of those I meet. Most are women. Most are outraged and exhausted, but none are crazy, weak or dumb; none are defeated. Our tears do not signify weakness and our anger does not portend violence. We are women and our biggest strength is that through our lifetimes we have learned to just get on with it. There is no mob mentality in the resistance. In fact, I have seen only rational debate; logical research and analysis of facts; open-minded collaboration; and empathy and concern for the well-being of all. We are not going away and we are not going back to the 1950s because we have learned since then that we have the power and skill to change things. Through the tears and the outrage, it is our determination and grit that will bring us through.
Over the past two years, I have been inspired by the women around me. I frequently noticed a 94 year old great grandmother who spent the last year of her life at protests in her wheelchair. A woman whom I did not know came to my house to phone bank one week after burying her husband. I am in awe of another brave woman who attended meetings after chemo treatment and another woman, whose husband has cancer, who called and canvassed for a local politician every week. Then there is the young mother who – while her infant was hospitalized, in need of a liver transplant – admirably became the bane of a local politician’s existence. None of them are crazy, weak or dumb. Indeed, these women have endured trials and tribulations unimaginable to the likes of Trump – and often at the hands of the likes of Trump. I have even met a German woman who, while here for an extended holiday, signed up to canvass for a competitive Senate race. She told me the world is worried and frightened of what they see happening here. Nothing crazy, weak or dumb about that. These are the women of the resistance and there are thousands of us across the country, indeed, the world.
The ranks of the resistance are made up of these true patriots, of current and former lawyers, teachers, healthcare specialists, real estate agents, and artists; white women and women of color, mothers, daughters, sisters all; women who fought for our rights decades ago and women who have grown up benefiting from those rights. We feel each other’s pain, because we have lived it. We feel the pain of the disadvantaged, because it is our pain too. We feel the pain of our Mother Earth, because we understand what it means to be used, without giving up. We do not back down.
For myself, and the other women I have shared these past months with, it’s as though we were made for this moment. Pulled from our everyday lives, previously unmarketable skills suddenly became useful. Teachers, practiced in writing perfectly-spaced, block-letters in straight lines, make excellent signs for rallies and protests. Professors know how to fight ‘fake news’ and write letters to editors. Mothers, working or stay at home, are adept at scheduling and juggling the needs of multiple individuals and timetables. Accustomed to keeping lists, and lists of lists, is what we do. Pastors open church doors for meetings. Millennials share social media know-how, Google docs and livestreaming; aging hippies know all the good rally chants. Professional women lend their expertise in medicine or the law or IT, creative women, their designs for posters or websites. We’ve given up every moment of quiet time or fun to this one goal: correcting this dangerous and malicious administration bent on stealing everything we hold dear. And we are standing our ground.
I am inspired by the women I have met and they are the reason we can and will prevail. Rational, tough, and smart, we will not melt or wither away. What happened at the polls in November 2018 happened because of us. And it will happen again in 2020 because now, in addition to everything else, we are battle tested and gaining momentum.
Even at the gates of hell, we will continue to stand our ground. We won’t back down.
(Thanks to the women who have inspired me and also to the late Tom Petty for the refrain)