The Women’s March seems to be in trouble. And that’s too bad.
Various ethnic and economic groups are struggling against each other instead of enhancing the wonderful diversity represented by the entire movement thus far. Some financial backers have withdrawn support for one reason or another. Even some state offshoots are squabbling.
The group’s initial outpouring in Washington D.C. was something nearly miraculous. So were the contemporary marches in many cities coast-to-coast. Hundreds of thousands of Americans took to the streets to show massive solidarity for wholly positive reasons. Representative of dozens of religions and multiple races. Both men and women. Just spectacular.
But, now the group is confronted by the identical problems so many movements face trying to find their footing; trying to find organizational common ground.
It’s similar to problems of the far-right I’ve enjoyed watching for decades. Unhappy and distrusting folks breaking away from the established Republican Party to go their own way because of differences in “philosophy.” Up popped the Birch Society, Liberty Lobby, Tea Party and dozens of splinter groups. “Purity of thought” was the demand of all of them. A single “impure” thought could get you immediately excommunicated.
Then, one by one, they devolved into infighting, name calling and eventual distrust of each other. Which is ironic since it was distrust of the larger political body that created them in the first place. Now, the Republican Party itself is being divided again. Trumpers versus anti-Trumpers. Republican diehards versus Republicans who dislike what the Party has become. Evangelicals versus almost everybody else.
Democrats are not immune to such infighting. At the moment, ultra-liberal voices are trying to pull the national Party to the left. Many mainline Democrats are resisting. Several of the congressional freshmen - or freshwomen - are demanding universal healthcare, free college tuition, guaranteed equality for all and more of the long-held talking points of many in the Democrat Party.
The new struggle facing Democrat leaders is young turks demanding seats at the leadership table. They claim their recent election is a signal for change. And, to some extent, it probably was.
But, these are not normal times. The intransigent GOP in Congress has become a dam, holding back anything our out-of-control president doesn’t approve. Our national legislative body is embroiled in its own internal struggles. Democrat gray-hairs now in charge need support, not dissent and demands from the new folks still trying to figure out where their offices are. Their turn’s coming.
But, back to the Women’s March problems. There’s nothing new in what its leaders are dealing with. It happens every time you try to build a “big tent.” The very factors inherent in assembling an effective organization of disparate interests and backgrounds are the same ones that can create issues.
Then, there’s the added problem someone or some inside subgroup will try to take over - try to control things - try to bend the direction to its own will. Happened to the Tea Party, the Birch Society and other splinter organizations. Lacking a formal structure to provide cohesion, large groups often are eventually ineffective.
Women’s March has a small D.C. staff. It has some financial sponsors. But, state versions are seemingly unconnected and lack both staff and money to do their work. The result is often poor communication or one group finding itself either at cross-purposes with another or reinventing the wheel.
At the moment, the movement is enjoying widespread public acceptance. It projects a togetherness and unity of purpose. It espouses thoughts and feelings of positive, more unifying times to come. All good things. But, such support can disappear if it appears the “cause” is struggling or showing dissent.
The Woman’s March has shown people of disparate thought, differing ethnicity, different political backgrounds - or no political backgrounds - can come together on a national stage to make an important contribution. It signals connectedness instead of division. That, alone, gives it purpose and value.
It’s to be hoped that, whatever internal struggles are going on, wiser heads will prevail to assure both survival and future contributions. As a nation, we are in desperate need of anyone or any representative group representing our better nature.