Women’s march inspires action,so let’s get to work

January 26, 2017

OPINION by STEW JENKINS

Like so many local men, I participated in the Women’s March in San Luis Obispo on Jan. 21 the day after our new president belted out the most caustic inaugural speech in living memory. The gathering of between seven and nine thousand, overflowing onto streets boarding Mitchell Park in San Luis Obispo , demonstrated energy, passion and commitment. It surely renewed faith that equality, sisterhood, brotherhood and justice in our democracy will not be defeated.

The former poet laurite of San Luis Obispo inspired, and organizers speeches tapped into the crowd’s widespread energy. A team of brightly feathered drummers steeled even the faint hearted after the march started as pelting rains beat down on activists assembled to resist a new administration threatening to rollback basic human rights, dignity and common decency.

Uplifting! Marching and rallies inspire, but are not themselves actions for change. But what now? What practical actions can foster progress?

The organizers of the SLO march announced one practical benefit of the march, $25,000 had been raised.

But in the wake of a losing campaign in which Democrats significantly outspent Republican, it is imperative to recognize that, by itself, money does not win elections. Most of the money spent in the last election cycle was spent in the wrong places, spent in ways that failed to persuade, or worse ran ads for progressives that drove voters to vote for their opponents.

Gathering to talk to only ourselves or repeating meaningless talking points does not persuade independents, conservative Democrats, or receptive Republicans; the people needed to move beyond the solidly liberal half of the country.

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Those who respond in kind to our new president’s profane, racists, sexist, and hateful statements play into his hands. It brings Democrats, liberal populists, and progressives down to his level; undercutting the content of our own character and blinding independents, conservatives and Republicans to the merits of liberal principles, proposals and programs.

Van Jones, former advisor to President Obama who spoke at the DC Women’s March, has the best advice to avoid sinking to Trump’s level. “The #LoveArmy is an alternative to hate and divisiveness gaining momentum in our communities and in our country. Democracy doesn’t just happen on Election Day. Democracy happens every day, through every interaction we have and every action we take. As divided as we may be, we have far more in common than not. Despite our differences, our common pain should give us common purpose. Let’s work together to bring our country forward.”

So how do we all get to work? By understanding the government that we have built, and acting through it to do two big things. Defend our democracy, first. Advocate, at the same time, for individual things that will build human dignity, economic justice, health care for all, racial and gender equality, freedom of religion, speech, and press, and a pollution free planet.

One easy to read guide is sitting on the web at www.indivisibleguide.org. Written by former progressive congressional staffers who studied how “the Tea Party beat back president Obama’s agenda,” is contains practical advice about what your member of congress (or your in-state representatives for that matter) care about, and what they ignore.

For instance, it contains advice like, if your Congressman Salud Carbajal, or Senator Dianne Feinstein is a Democrat defending or supporting something like the Affordable Care Act, phone, email or write to praise them for doing the right thing. That is the only way they will know that doing the right thing will keep them in office.

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Don’t assume they will do the right thing, just because they are a Democrat. Phone, email or write to ask them to support the ACA, or to oppose reinstituting torture, or to support passage of an infrastructure funding bill. And representatives are more likely to pay attention to something you do that takes effort. I

n other words, clicking on an internet petition to say you support or oppose legislation will likely be ignored. It may make you feel good, but does little. But, a hand written card on flowered paper will likely get noticed. Driving to Dianne Feinstein’s office in Fresno (yes, that is the office that serves San Luis Obispo County) to deliver the card with 15 friends delivering their own individual differently worded cards will get even more notice. And when you write or call, ask for one thing. Don’t ask for 37 things. Focus the attention of the congressional staffer who is going to interpret your call or letter for the congressman or senator.

So, what does the indivisible guide say you should do with Republican representatives? First understand what doesn’t work. If you want to influence Kevin McCarthy, whose district is in Kern County you are wasting time and energy if you live in San Luis Obispo County. You don’t live in his district. He doesn’t care what you want or what you think. Unless you move there, you’re not a constituent and he doesn’t care that you and 15 friends from here show up with cards. If as a Democrat you want to influence McCarthy, the commitment it will take is the same commitment members of the Laborer’s Union made when members moved en masses from Southern California to Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo to live and campaign for Walter Capps.

By contrast, if you live here you are a constituent of Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham’s. Your individual cards, your individual emails, your dropping into or picketing outside of his Sacrament or San Luis Obispo office – with 15 of your friends – will get his attention if you want him at the state level preserve Obamacare or vote funding to protect clean water or expand school programs.

And finally, as Michael Moore said at the DC march, join groups. Join planned parenthood. Join the ACLU.

As Jack Kennedy said, the Democratic Party is the party of progress and prosperity. So, let’s all get to work to preserve our nation and state’s progress in economic and political justice and the prosperity that results from union organizing, project labor agreements, progressive income taxes, ambitious public works programs and a clean energy economy.

Stew Jenkins is a liberal San Luis Obispo County Democrat who supports the rights of working people to organize unions, the prudence of the cities and county growing the local economy through project labor agreements, the right of all people to health care and equal dignity. He is an attorney practicing in San Luis Obispo since 1978. Jenkins’ handles tax payer suits, municipal law, estate planning and family law.







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28 Comments

  1. SnakePliskin says:

    While the march was a good thing which should be repeated as often as possible, it would be much better and far more progressive if Democrats were left out and not allowed to co opt it like they have so many other progressive movements. As obscene a president and an individual as Trump is, replacing him will not address the rigged, corrupt, fascist, right wing system which is the US writ large…

    Job #1 of all US presidents, every single one of them, as well as the raison d’etre of the US itself, is to make the world safe for corrupt, crony, predatory capitalism while destroying all alternatives at every opportunity. That, and all US presidents expand upon the crimes of their predecessors as Obama did in expanding upon the war crimes and crimes against humanity of Cheney/Bush, Clinton and Reagan, dropping 26,000 bombs in 2016 alone, not to mention use of Killer Drones which kill 9 innocent victims for every 1 intended target. (Bad enough as the US created the intended target in the first place.) Trump will do the same while continuing to erode what little freedoms still exist in the US. Until the system is changed, who is elected/appointed POTUS matters little… obviously. So yes, take inspiration from the march and plan to join many more in the near future, just don’t let Democrats take charge and weaken progressive and just causes…

    “There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party … and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat.” Gore Vidal

    (-8) 16 Total Votes - 4 up - 12 down
  2. billygatez says:

    I enjoy how people complain about complainers, telling them to stop complaining and “get over it”. =(

    (1) 13 Total Votes - 7 up - 6 down
  3. phoenix.rising says:

    This county and especially in the 3rd District (Adam Hill’s) has shown that poor quality and poor ethics are in vogue and required to be elected Supervisor in the 3rd District.

    Anyone that voted for Adam Hill in November voted in a dude that is behaving like a criminal yet has not yet been convicted.

    Rights • Safety • Respect For Us All as the sign pictured in article says is not what this march was about otherwise you would have retired Adam Hill and voted in Dan Carpenter.

    So in my opinion this march is only about exciting the PROGRESSIVE LEFT in this county and your ticket to ride is always one or more of the following cries from Rule For Radicals whether or not your claim is real:

    • women
    • children
    • the poor
    • race

    So please go ahead and march,that is your right, but get this, your energy in this county is vibrating at such a LOW vibration that those of us celebrating the 3 to 2 our way on the Board of Supervisors along with Trump/Pense are neutralising your vibration and over-riding it will a glorious HIGH vibration that will not stop no matter how many marches you have on false claims.

    Thank you – John Peschong, Debbie Arnold and Lynn Compton for protecting the forgotten citizen in San Luis Obispo County! Thank you Thank you Thank you!

    (15) 21 Total Votes - 18 up - 3 down
  4. standup says:

    Stew, Stew, Stew in this. All the wonderful liberal ideas are great until the taxpayer well of money runs dry. Some of us are sick and tired of paying for all your wonderful programs. I for one do not like to have to pay for someone’s birth control that can’t figure out what a condom is. I have a wife past menopause but I still have to pay for her maternity care through some bozo’s “Affordable Care Act”. Which by the way my wife and I pay $1700.00 per month for the two of us when a much better plan only cost $725.00 eight years ago before that same bozo got into office. I am sorry, but unions are only good for keeping lame assed old workers employed who are not nearly as productive as the young ones. I have been a supervisor for union employees and have seen this first hand. It is the unions that have got us into the downward spiral of not being able to fund CalPers. What is your great plan for that Stew? Tax us even more for these overpaid and over-compensated government employees? While I may not like all the things Trump is doing, I sure like them better than what the fool before him did. He is putting America first rather than selling us down the road. Sorry Stew, you lost for the better. And please tell your women marches to pick up their own trash from the other day. Pigs.

    (12) 30 Total Votes - 21 up - 9 down
  5. Pelican1 says:

    20% tax on Mexican imports? Holy guacamole…no more Super Bowl fiestas.

    (4) 14 Total Votes - 9 up - 5 down
  6. only-when-i-do-this says:

    Uh, I don’t think so….it was one of those,

    I demand Stuff, and we have the right to….

    ….complain about other people’s victories.

    Whoah, right there, moonbat.

    Good start right there, eh? So this is what success looks like, a bunch of women wearing pink hats ?

    And then I think of all the great things men did without them.

    like Hoover Dam, just about EVERY building in the united states, yeah, have the right to do real stuff, men.

    The right to complain; is that an accomplishment ?

    (4) 18 Total Votes - 11 up - 7 down
  7. SamLouis says:

    The “Women’s March” was a rather sad affair. Sexist and hateful in construct, it was little more than a march of angry (and at times disgusting) sore-losers and Planned Parenthood supporters.

    I wish the event would been honest — that it was a protest of Donald Trump as President of the United States, of not having a female in the Oval Office and in support of abortion. It really was nothing more.

    That would have been far better than the meaningless and flowery language one found if they actually searched for the organizer’s online mission statement. At least it would have had some credibility.

    While I strongly support our right to protest in the US, I lament the wasteful division that sad affairs like this create with absolutely no upside.

    (9) 27 Total Votes - 18 up - 9 down

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