Last Saturday, in more than 500 cities and towns across the country, millions of people of all races and creeds - led, organized, and mobilized by women - put on one of the largest public demonstrations ever in the US.
There were overwhelming crowds in Washington, Chicago, LA, and Denver - where attendance was more than five times what was expected. In many cities, the sheer masses of people stalled march routes into makeshift rallies. It was an incredible show of solidarity and demand for political accountability.
The marches weren't just in large cities and liberal enclaves. There were marches everywhere. People marched in snowshoes and cross-country skis in remote mountain towns. People weathered winter storms and frigid temperatures in Idaho and Alaska. More than two thousand people showed up to march in the Rust Belt city where I was born in Indiana. And several hundred marched across a bridge in the small town where my mom was born and raised, in the middle of the Keweenaw Peninsula, in the northernmost part of Michigan that juts out into Lake Superior.
The simple reason for this massive demonstration is because of what's at stake - with health care, education, racial justice, gender equality, climate change, immigration reform, voting rights, constitutional rights, and much more. These issues matter in big cities and small towns, in red states and blue, and any place where people - particularly women; and even more so women of color - have been dismissed, disenfranchised, and made to feel disempowered in their own country.
Not everyone saw the marches in the same light, and that's fine. But there's been a predictable backlash to so many people - so many women - speaking out. It's shrouded in a vague can't-we-all-just-get-along sentiment that, for many, feels like an unearned demand to stay silent about fundamental issues that affect people in different ways. It's also a dangerous example of political passivity that abdicates our collective responsibility to hold elected leaders accountable.