One year ago, on Jan. 21, 2017, people flooded into the streets across America, with marches happening from coast to coast, in protest of the election of Donald Trump. Approximately four million people marched that day, making it “likely to be the largest single-day demonstration in recorded U.S. history,” according to The Washington Post.
A year later, on the anniversary weekend of the historic march which took place in January, people returned with force. This year, the main rally was held in Las Vegas, Nev., and was themed Power to the Polls, kicking off a progressive offensive aimed at Democrats taking back the Senate from Republicans during the upcoming midterm elections. The Women’s March — who organized the march in their namesake — enumerated the major victories that had occurred across the country and stated that the Women’s March “aims to convert the groundswell of momentum and activism into direct electoral power.”
Nevada was chosen as the location for the anniversary rally due to its status as a battleground state, where Republican Senator Dean Heller is facing an uphill battle for reelection. Not only is Nevada one of the few swing states, but also was the site of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, highlighting what progressives deemed as the need for more comprehensive gun control legislation.
As the name suggests, the Power to the Polls theme signifies a notable shift in focus toward electoral victory from the previous more broad pro-women goal, hoping to channel the up kick in activism post-election into tangible political victories, like that of the defeat of Roy Moore in Alabama, due to the high turnout of black women voters.
Though the numbers were lower than in the first Women’s March, large turnouts were recorded across the country.
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted that over 200,000 people marched, in Chicago, it was 300,000 and in Washington, D.C. the number was reported to be in the thousands, according to the Vanity Fair. The same unity principles of the March were present, conceived the year before as a testament to the organizers’ priorities and commitment to intersectionality. The mission was the same as well, just with an added emphasis on using the power of the vote to affect change.
Though the organizers seem committed to upholding these ideas, the march still faced criticism ranging from the accusation that it was just another white feminist event, to the lack of inclusion for trans women because of the link between anatomy and declaration of womanhood, referring to the pink pussy hats. In Philadelphia, some activists called for a boycott of the march, due to the organizers’ collaboration with police on security measures. The activists said this put already marginalized groups, specifically people of color and trans people, at a higher risk for violence at the hands of police, according to Philly Mag.
President Trump took to his Twitter to tweet to the protesters, saying “Beautiful weather all over our great country, a perfect day for all Women to March. Get out there now to celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 12 months. Lowest female unemployment in 18 years!” People quickly criticized his response for entirely missing the point of the protests. Only time will tell if the March’s organizers were able to harness the progressive wave of anti-Trump activism through the voting booth, but from the looks of the widespread, sustained protest, the odds may be in their favor come midterms.