New York — I have been mulling over a wide range of explanations for Clinton’s defeat — from race (“whitelash”), cultural resentment and misogyny to working class frustration and income inequality that the Democratic Party allowed to fester for too long. Of course, there is also Comey’s unconscionable intrusion in the election, Clinton’s campaign mistakes and lack of charisma, the media’s penchant for false equivalences, and innumerable other explanations that will be trotted out in the weeks to come. Intellectually, I have taken the easy way out, and can’t assert that one cause or variable is more significant than another in Clinton’s loss. There seem to be multiple factors at work. Though I do know that a more likable candidate with less baggage and more of a working class touch like Biden would likely have won.
But Trump has won the election — a man that I can’t either politically or personally abide. It’s a feeling I share with millions of others. If Romney had been elected rather than Obama in 2012, I would have been depressed, but not angry and truly frightened for the future as I am today. It’s not only our own, but Trump’s brand of politics has made inroads in Western Europe from Brexit to Le Pen’s growing political strength in France to the popularity of the Netherlands’ far-right Party for Freedom (PVV), led by Geert Wilders.
As a result, I decide to visit and briefly join on Saturday the march to Trump Tower from Union Square. Saturday on Union Square is the busiest day of the week, because the luminous Union Square market has its largest array of stands, and attracts its biggest crowds. There is also one of the execrable street fairs glutting a nearby street with its cheap wares, and unhealthy food. But my wife and I weave with difficulty through the crowd, and I walk a block with the demonstrators chanting “Not my President,” and ”Immigrants welcome here.” There was one chant that got my attention: “The People united will never be defeated.” The chant is based on a radical Chilean song that emerged from the Left coalition in Chile between 1969 and 1973, prior to the overthrow of the Allende government.
I wish I could have walked all the way with them, but these years I have trouble standing still for long periods.
There were thousands on the march of all ages, ethnic groups, and races. Though it was predominantly young, and they carried signs reading “Love Trumps Hate,” “Money is not Speech,” and “Give the Man a Chance to Kill the Planet.” Some Occupy participants shouted out ‘’mike check” when someone wanted to address the crowd. It was a peaceful, serious group of marchers and the procession’s collective passion stirred the both of us
As the march uptown began, I spoke to some of the participants about why they were marching. One black woman spoke of sending ‘a message to the world about xenophobia and racism,” and another white man about protesting against Trump because “he hates his fellow Americans.” I met an older couple from arty Ashville, North Carolina, who were visiting the city, and decided to join the march to vent their anger against Trump.
For a moment, I felt it was the 60s again, and I was back marching against the Vietnam War. I felt exhilarated, but I knew I would feel let down a few hours later. The marches can’t be sustained on a daily basis, and the real struggle will take place in Congress not on the streets. Also, a majority of “the people,” not the ones Woody Guthrie once sang about, are for Trump and opposed to the protests. Still, even if the march is quixotic, I was glad I went.