The realization that you’re witnessing the creation of history–that this day, the one that started like any other, is going to be remembered beyond your own lifetime–is a very strange and particular feeling. I felt it during 9/11. I felt it (painfully) on the day of Donald Trump’s election. And I felt it today, as I watched images of the Women’s Marches pour in from all over the world.
I hadn’t paid much attention to this event, overshadowed as it was by Trump’s inauguration, and didn’t expect it to amount to much beyond a (admittedly brave) token gesture. Apparently, neither did the organizers: several of the planned marches had to be converted to stationary protests when more than double the expected attendees turned up. An estimated 2.5 million people took to the streets in America and many other countries (including Ireland, where several thousand people marched in Dublin–this is impressive in a country whose citizenry has been historically politically apathetic about any issue not involving water charges), which is incidentally ten times the estimated turnout of Trump’s inauguration address.
I think it’s safe to say that we all needed this.
What comes next? Are these protests going to convince the Trump administration to rethink their policies? Are we witnessing the spontaneous birth of a united liberal protest movement?
No, probably not. But I’ll tell you this: I can guarantee you that Trump and his henchmen and his supporters are just a little bit scared right now. The walls of the White House have begun to compress with the force of all of that anger and scorn, like a submarine descending into the deep ocean, and they’re checking nervously for leaks. The fall of empires has begun with events far more humble than what we’ve witnessed today, and they all know it.
All of a sudden, four years doesn’t seem like such a long time.