2017-02-01 / Here's the Scoop

Making our voices heard

I went to my first Women’s March a few weeks back. I’m actually not a woman and neither am I particularly fond of marching, so heading to Washington for this event wouldn’t seem like an ideal fit for me. But, it was. Very much so.

While I certainly shared the frustrations with the millions of folks who waged protests against many policies being proposed by the new administration, the idea to attend the march was my wife’s. I generally prefer lazy winter weekends in front of the fireplace, but it took little prodding to ignite my enthusiasm. After all, like countless others across the country, I’ve been suffering from Trumpression for months. Really.

Believe me, this column is not a political statement for or against one party — when I go to the voting booth, I cast my ballots for the best candidates. As happens to all of us, my favored nominees have often not come out winners. I generally move past the sting of defeat in a couple of days. Not this time, though.

Time for an exception

I usually don’t argue politics, because it’s a losing proposition. However, in the case of our most recent election, the outcome is difficult to ignore. I could insert an impressive string of swear words here (I know many!) as a reaction to the balloting, but this is a family newspaper. Instead, I’ll mere- ly repeat what many others have concluded: our new White House occupant is wholly unqualified for one of the most powerful positions in the world. That opinion becomes clear- er by the day. By the minute, even.

For tens of millions of Americans, the devastation and feelings of helplessness have been hard to shake. The Women’s March on Washington brought the first rays of hope that change is at hand. Everyone I’ve spoken to who attended the march had the same reaction — the extraordinary impact of like-minded folks rallying for a common cause. It’s difficult to explain the power of those interactions.

The march we attended had more than half-a-million folks with a serious purpose. However, there were plenty of light moments, too, with many humorous – but bitingly accurate — signs on display. The camaraderie was incredible. One of the most memorable moments, for me, was when we went past a dozen of so National Guard members who were part of the security force and they shook hands with and gave hugs to the marchers. It was incredibly moving.

One common theme

Sure, those taking part had numerous reasons for joining in, but the overriding theme was that we were there to protect “human rights.” In the view of millions of folks, our freedoms are being trampled with a near daily stroke of the president’s pen in decisions that seem to receive little or no consideration of the possible repercussions.

Did I mention that there was not a single arrest at the march? That’s about 20 fewer arrests than made are made in traffic stops in Arkville on a typical weekend.

I’m sure if this column winds its way to Washington, the Catskill Mountain News (well, at least this writer) will be branded as among the “dishonest media.” I’ve worked in the weekly newspaper business for decades — so I’ve had plenty of experience with criticism. Again, this is not being written as supporting or criticizing the Blue or Red Party. It is being leveled against the “Orange Party.” I’m truly frightened about what feels more and more like a budding catastrophe.

Loyal readers of this column know that I rarely use this space for as a political platform. I don’t plan to make it a habit, but some issues gnaw at my soul and must be addressed in the best way I know how.

Loyal readers of this column know that I rarely use this space for as a political platform. I don’t plan to make it a habit, but some issues gnaw at my soul and must be addressed in the best way I know how. 

To folks who condemn these peaceful protests, I think it’s “sad” they are missing the point of what truly makes our country great — the freedom to express our opinions. We need to Make America Sane Again. To borrow my favorite chant that often broke out during the march, “This is what Democracy looks like.” Amen.

— Brian Sweeney

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