On the Mall in Brunswick

With Ellen and Robbie and friends, I joined the throng gathered on the town mall in Brunswick today to signal our opposition to the Trump presidency and the agenda of the Republican majority in Congress.  There were plenty of positive messages, too: for equality, for respect and rights, for action towards climate sanity, for diversity and for peace.  brunswick-rally-2

A few observations.  We felt like a gathering of older folk.  There were young and middle age adults and also some children, but we were predominantly retirees.  (I didn’t see any Bowdoin students. Are they back from Christmas break?)  Women predominated, and women’s messages rang clear and true.  We rehearsed some protest songs of decades past: we will overcome, and this land is your land.  We remembered the words, but it didn’t sound like we had sung together in many years.  We marched some, but lacked organization and direction.  So mostly we milled around.  Pussycat hats in shades of pink and near pink were common.  This was a positive, even joyful gathering: yes we can.

There were  some clever signs.  One had a picture of the Statue of Liberty with the caption “I’m with her.”

I appreciated the conversations I had, none of them very long, but all of them fresh.  Some were with people I know well though often in non-political settings.  A few were with strangers.  All were energizing and affirming.  Simply keeping company with such a large throng was also energizing.

I wondered, often with others, about who, in the days and weeks ahead,  we would look to for leadership, organization and strategy.  We named various organizations we trust on this issue or that:  the ACLU, environmental organizations, Planned Parenthood.  But what organization could connect across the various issue realms?  No one seemed too excited about the Democratic Party itself. I was struck at how much the connecting threads of this gathering seemed to flow through church congregations: the UUs, the UCCs, the Quakers and so forth.  Perhaps the liberal churches will provide our warp threads.

What comes next?  As positive as today’s gathering was, I didn’t find an answer.  But there was certainly promise of more to come.  This was a gathering of people wanting to be engaged.

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About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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