Organizers of this weekend's Women's March on Washington have taken pains to avoid calling the event-- and the hundreds of "sister marches" planned across the country -- anti-Trump. As Terie Norelli, former Democratic Speaker of the N.H. House and a longtime state representative, said on The Exchange this week:
"I would say this is a pro United States rally. I believe -- and I know many others who do -- that the United States stands for the values of equality and justice and dignity for everyone, and we’re a little bit afraid, many of us, that not everyone respects that today. And we want to make sure that we are standing together to say truly that we stand for these values -- that we believe in the United States, that the Statue of Liberty was there really to bring all different kinds of people together and that we are standing with them.”
Norelli is among many Granite Staters expected to attend events in Concord, in solidarity with the Washington march. There are also marches planned in Portsmouth and Lancaster.
"Women feel they want to march – whether that’s physically marching or not -- to be in solidarity with many communities who feel they will be impacted the most by the intolerance, the hate, the violence, the rhetoric that has taken place throughout the election and since," Norelli said. "And we want to stand in numbers that are too big to be discounted, to say we’re here together to stand up for the values of the United States."
I’m not only excited symbolically by the message we can send by simply banding together and just showing up -- because just showing up is often half the battle -- but also to learn. I think it’s going to be a tremendous opportunity.. I think it’s more than a protest,. I think it’s an invitation to women and allies to be involved. -- Exchange listener, Maggie.
Fran Wendleboe, former Republican representative and a member of the 603 Alliance, dismisses fears about a potential new era of intolerance under President Trump. "I’d say it’s much ado about nothing. It’s been whipped up into a frenzy again by the Obama administration. At times to me it almost seems like race baiting, some of the things the president has said."
Wendleboe said she does not fault the women for marching, so much as she does the media for paying too much attention to them.
"I don’t fault them for marching. It’s their right. It’s an expression of their personal beliefs. That’s fine. However, let’s talk about fairness. Next week, following the Women’s march, on Friday the 27th, there will be another march in Washington D.C. -- the Annual March for Life, which gets totally ignored by the press...It’s been in numbers of over 600,000 people marching."
I’m really concerned that the message we’re sending especially to younger people is that our process doesn’t work as a democracy, that we have a system of checks and balances for a reason. And we have to have space in our system of checks and balances and not live in this atmosphere of fear. The protests seem to be adding to this and it’s really bothersome to me. I just think it’s really unnecessary. I don’t think anything horrible has happened yet. And I think we’re worrying about things that might happen.
As for the staying power of any rallies or protests, Elizabeth Ossoff, professor in the psychology department of Saint Anselm College, says these groups can have a long-lasting impact. "But you have to have certain factors in place, like very specific aims and a unified voice and it has to be constant and it has to strike the right narrative," she said.
The marches this weekend have been criticized for embracing too many causes, possibly diluting their effect. But Norelli said there are unifying themes: equality, dignity, and justice.
"And those issues come up in so many areas of our life. So whether it’s religious freedom, tolerance, human rights, environmental justice, economic justice, reproductive justice or racial justice, the broad theme is equality and justice for everyone."