As Donald Trump raises his right hand to swear the presidential oath of office on Friday, hundreds of thousands of protesters opposed to his policy positions will be traveling to D.C. for planned protests the following day. They want to put him and his cabinet on notice that his rightwing agenda will be confronted at every turn.
In Michigan, the Jan. 21 protests will align in time with the D.C. Womens March, when thousands of Michiganders are expected to turn out at the State Capitol. That protest and rally will run from 1-3 p.m. The target? Michigan’s extreme GOP majority in all three branches of the government.
“Everything just seems really terrible and it seems like now’s the time to make a change,” said Katie Schmiedeknecht. The state employee said she will be in Lansing on Saturday to join in the protest.
And that’s exactly what organizers like Sarah Eisenberg said they want.
Eisenberg was seeking ways to engage her fears and frustrations right after the election. “Hey,” she recalled saying to various groups, “I am an individual who’s terrified about what’s just happened; what can I do?” Initially there were few answers for her, but through social media she connected with others and helped plan the statewide rally the day after the inauguration.
Trump’s inauguration will usher in a presidency by Twitter with a variety of mixed bag political promises. And that has caused fear and anxiety in the U.S. and across the globe.
That fear is fed, at least in part, by Trump’s unpredictability. He campaigned on a complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act, but has since seemed to have softened that stance, calling for the healthcare law to be “repealed and replaced.” Over the weekend he said he wants “healthcare for everyone,” but was unclear how his plan would deliver that. He also campaigned on building a wall on the Mexican border and making Mexico pay for it. Now, while still promising the wall, he is expecting Congress to foot the bill and chase Mexico down like a creditor to have them pay for it.
Adding concern for many was the Trump campaign’s promise to deport millions of undocumented workers, ban people from certain countries who adhere to the Muslim faith from the U.S., and calling for the potential creation of a registry of Muslims. Trump’s also threatened to end same-sex marriage by sending the issue “back to the states” to decide.
Add on top of this his open flirtation and political nods to the rising right wing, white nationalist movement known as the Alt-Right, and the recipe for fear and anxiety has only grown since he was elected. One of his key advisors, Steve Bannon, ran the Alt-Right website Breitbart, prior to being tapped to run his campaign in August. He will now have a key seat at the table with an office in the White House.
Eisenberg said organizers of Saturday’s rally and protest are focused on Michigan related issues.
* Amending the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
* Addressing the threat to women’s health care, including the ongoing assault on abortion
* Protecting Medicaid expansion and access to healthcare
* Making voting in Michigan more transparent
* Addressing the gerrymandering which has given the GOP consistent control the state legislature.
She said the group is particularly keen to address deficiencies identified in precincts in the state during the Green Party recount late last year. While that count was stopped by the U.S. 6th Court of Appeals, the reality is that many precincts in Detroit were found to have missing ballots, improperly locked ballot containers and other issues. Those precincts with such issues, under state law, were not eligible for a recount. She said the organizers also want to fight the push for voter ID laws and overcome the “continued resistance to no reason absentee voting.”
She said it is clear Michigan law makers simply are not “listening to the voters.” She cited examples such as the Emergency Manager law, which voters struck down, only to see it put back in place days later by the state legislature – only this time with a budget appropriation, making it referendum proof.
As Trump has assailed immigrants, Eisenberg and other organizers want to celebrate them and their contributions.
“We’re really proud that Michigan is a state of immigrants, and of first generation immigrants particularly in metro Detroit,” she said. “We want to support our neighbors. We want to welcome immigrants to the state of Michigan.”
She’s excited to see the engagement from everyday folks.
“The fact that citizens are engaging, that they’re rising up and saying, ‘Whoa, whoa, wait a minute,'” she said. “They don’t care what we think, but we need to stand up and speak louder. We need to stand up and do something about this because clearly the people who are running our country don’t seem to be listening to those of us who are living in it.”